The Shanghai International Circuit in China hosts round four of the 2014 Formula One world championship.
It has a tough act to follow after the dramatic and thrilling Bahrain Grand Prix, which was won by the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.
The two Silver Arrows look set to dominate once again, with a clear advantage over the closely-matched chasing pack. Hopefully Hamilton and team-mate Nico Rosberg’s exciting scraps on-track will continue this weekend.
Conditions for the Chinese Grand Prix after often cool and the appearance of rain isn’t uncommon. The soft and medium compound tyre combination will be used for the third time this year.
Hamilton and Fernando Alonso are the only multiple winners of the race with two victories each. Four other drivers on the current grid (Jenson Button, Rosberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel) have all won the race once. Ferrari is the most successful constructor with four wins.
The 3.39 mile layout, designed by Hermann Tilke, features a good mix of slow, medium and high-speed corners. There are some tricky, technical sessions as well as several flat-out bursts of speed. The lap starts with the long pit straight, which is where the first DRS zone will be situated.
The pit exit is to the right and feeds the cars back on track just prior to turn one, which is a long-duration, tightening right-hand bend. Turn two follows swiftly after and has a blind apex, for a dip downhill for the slow turns three and four (which make up a slow left-hand hairpin).
Good traction is crucial here for the short straight that follows, which is broken up by the flat-out and barely-there turn five. The second sector begins just prior to the braking zone for the turn six hairpin, which is another right-hand corner.
A short uphill section follows before the high-speed turns seven and eight, which make up a left-right chicane. The ninth and 10th turns on the track follow soon after. Both are slow left-handers and a good exit is vital for the next straight, which is where the third sector starts.
There is another heavy braking zone before the 11th and 12th corners, which make up a left-right chicane. Traction is low and drivers are often aggressive with their use of the kerbs through this section, to get the optimum line for the long right-hander that is turn 13.
It opens up as the corner progresses, and carrying good speed through this section is incredibly important for the run onto one of the sport’s longest straights. This is where the second DRS zone will be positioned.
Turn 14 is the best overtaking opportunity on the track, as it is a slow right-hand hairpin with plenty of run-off area to save drivers from any mistakes and missed braking points. Turn 15 is non-existent and the 16th corner, a 90-degree right, closes the lap. The pit entry is tricky, with drivers heading straight on at the final turn and taking a sharp left.
The track always produces exciting racing, so hopefully we will see more of the same this weekend.
Small updates will be taken to Shanghai, although more focus will be on the first European race of the year in Spain next month, so the order looks set to remain relatively unchanged.
So it will most certainly be a Mercedes victory this Sunday, but the big question is, will it be Hamilton or Rosberg?