By BMW Sauber F1 Team
October 14 2008
Formula One's Asian round trip continues: This Sunday, Shanghai will stage the penultimate round of the 2008 18-race Formula One season. For the third and final time this year, two World Championship rounds will be contested as back-to-back races. For the fifth time, Shanghai will be the venue of the Chinese Grand Prix.
The state-of-the-art "Shanghai International Circuit" features a track length of 5.451 kilometres and represents one of the most demanding venues on the calendar. The scale of the facility is huge and clearly exceeds that of every other Formula One circuit. The paddock, for instance, is so spacious that most of the drivers prefer using a scooter to get from here to there.
The track layout features seven left-handers and seven right-handers. Instead of the pit straight, the straight between turns 13 and 14 is the longest. Here, the drivers go flat out for about 1.3 kilometres and accelerate their cars to a top speed of more than 310kph.
Nick Heidfeld: “On the whole, I quite like this circuit. The first three corners are among the best on the calendar. You come in with a lot of speed, and the first corner remains pretty fast initially. But then it tightens up more and more and you have to change down into second gear. Getting out the other end in good shape will be just a bit more difficult this year with the absence of traction control. Every time you come here you’re impressed by the huge scale of the paddock and grandstands; there’s nothing else like it.
Last year I got unlucky with the timing of a tyre change onto a fresh set of wets. Second place was possible, but that turned into seventh when I had to come in for an extra stop. Shanghai will be the fifth Asian city in a row I’ve visited – after Singapore, Seoul, Gwang-ju and Tokyo – and each one is different. Shanghai is certainly the fastest-growing and without doubt the one with the worst traffic conditions. Each time we come to Shanghai there are new skyscrapers, but every year a few of the old districts also disappear from the city centre.”
Robert Kubica: “Shanghai is an interesting circuit with a very long straight, and here there’s a good chance to overtake. The track offers a mixture of very different corners; there are some slow areas but also several fast sections. The first corner is particularly challenging. You stay on the brakes for a long time, and then it quickly switches into a left-hander. I haven’t had much luck at this circuit so far. I hope that changes this time and I can pick up some important points for the World Championship.”
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: “Just a week after the race in Japan we travel to China for the second part of this Asian double-header. This means we will have had five races on this continent this year. If you add the Turkish Grand Prix, that means there are six GPs in Asia – a third of the season. Plus, next year will also see the first visit of Formula One to Abu Dhabi. All of which shows that the top category of motor racing has established a major foothold in Asia. Shanghai has developed dramatically as a business centre and China is a future market with significant growth potential.
From the point of view of BMW and our partners, the race in Shanghai is therefore of particular importance. BMW has operated its own production facility in China since 2004, where the BMW 3 Series and BMW 5 Series models are made. This will be the fifth time that Formula One comes to China. The scale of the facility in Shanghai is beyond any other venue on the calendar and the track layout is a tough challenge. We are very much looking forward to the penultimate race of the season.”
Willy Rampf, Technical Director: “The track in Shanghai stands out with its very special layout. A particularly interesting section is the double right-hander, double left-hander combination at the end of the start- finish straight. The drivers approach it with a lot of speed and then stay on the brakes for a long time on the entry. This is a very unusual section, which places heavy demands on the tyres. The long straight offers a good overtaking opportunity, as it feeds into a hairpin and the track is very wide at this point, allowing the drivers to take two different lines. The combination of widely contrasting corners demands a high level of aerodynamic efficiency. With the tyres put under such heavy loads we use the hardest Bridgestone compounds here.”