After a thrilling duel in the Bahrain desert, the F1 action now moves east to the Shanghai International Circuit for the 1000th Grand Prix.
Ahead of the 2019 Chinese Grand Prix, here are the Pirelli tyre sets that the teams have allocated themselves for this weekend, from the choice of the C2 (Hard), C3 (Medium) and C4 (Soft) compounds.
— Pirelli Motorsport (@pirellisport) April 2, 2019
All the spotlight was on Ferrari in Sahkir, where the Scuderia came back for blood after a poor showing in the opening round.
Charles Leclerc led a Ferrari front row lock-out, ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Unfortunately for Ferrari, they were unable to convert this into victory. Instead, the pair finished third and fifth respectively.
A spin from Vettel dropped him down the order, whilst team-mate Charles Leclerc was denied a maiden win, after a short circuit caused a cylinder to fail cost him around four seconds per lap.
A late safety car saved Leclerc’s first F1 podium finish. Ferrari have stated that his engine will be run in Shanghai and no terminal damage was caused.
“It is the 1000th race in the history of Formula 1 and I hope to have a car as strong as I had it in Bahrain to get the result we deserve,” Leclerc said.
Mercedes’ Team Principal Toto Wolff was complimentary of the young Monegasque driver:
“He is a humble young man and he’s very fast,” Wolff said.
“I know that many other drivers who have the lion in them, like he certainly has, would have reacted in a much more controversial way about the third place.”
“But none of that you see with Charles.”
Looking towards this weekend, Vettel discussed the circuit layout: “The Chinese GP has been on the calendar for quite a while and it’s held on one of the most technical and difficult tracks of the year.”
“Two of the corners are especially important: the first one and the one leading to the very long straight, over a kilometer in length.”
Vettel added: “Looking after tyres is one of the key points in Shanghai, it’s the most important job to do on Sunday in order to be fast for the whole race.”
“In the past, I’ve had some good races here with Ferrari, coming very close to winning.”
Ferrari arguably arrive as favourites, given the straight-line speed they showed in Bahrain, with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton fearing the two red cars could disappear down the road.
“The truth is that we weren’t as quick as our direct competitors throughout qualifying and the race in Bahrain,” Toto Wolff conceded.
“The Ferrari was considerably faster on the straights and this added up to several tenths around one lap.”
“The challenge we are facing doesn’t daunt us; it’s uplifting.”
Wolff added: “We will keep pushing to extract the maximum performance from our package to deliver the best race we can.”
Elsewhere, Renault will be hoping to sort out the reliability issues that ruined their race in Bahrain GP and are ‘determined to show more’ after they suffered a double retirement in Sakhir.
Nico Hülkenberg faced a cruel end to his race in Bahrain after a superb drive from seventeenth to sixth.
Despite this, the German remains in a positive frame of mind as he gears up for the 1000th Grand Prix in Shanghai.
“I would like to take the positives from Bahrain,” Hülkenberg said.
“Disappointment can happen in racing, but we move on as a team, learn from what happened and do everything possible to prevent it from happening again.”
“We showed we had good race pace.”
Hülkenberg continued: “There was a lot of overtaking, which we were able to hold our own in and we executed a slick two-stop, together with good pit-stops from the crew.”
“We must build on these positives and head into China knowing that if we string together a decent enough weekend, we’re more than capable of leading the midfield.”
Sakhir gave us some epic battles in the midfield, with McLaren leaving Bahrain best of the rest, after Renault’s reliability issues helped Lando Norris to a brilliant sixth place in only his second Formula 1 outing.
Toro Rosso rookie Alexander Albon also capitalised on Renault’s troubles to finish in Bahrain. This made Albon the first Thai driver to score Formula One points since Prince Bira in 1954.
Shanghai is no stranger to speed and overtaking, as showcased by Daniel Ricciardo when he won from sixth on the grid, in a great race filled with plenty of action and drama.
Fast flowing corners with one of F1’s longest straight should give us some exciting battles in Sunday’s Grand Prix.
Friday 12th April 2019
Chinese Grand Prix Free Practice 1: 10:00-11:30 (UK time: 3:00-4:30)
Chinese Grand Prix Free Practice 2: 14:00-15:30 (UK time: 7:00-8:30)
Saturday 13th April 2019
Chinese Grand Prix Free Practice 3: 11:00-12:00 (UK time: 4:00-5:00)
Chinese Grand Prix Qualifying: 14:00 (UK time: 7:00)
Sunday 14th April 2019
Chinese Grand Prix: 14:10 (UK time: 7:10)
Our 1000th race weekend is almost here 🎉 🙌
Shanghai is the stage for a special celebration 🇨🇳
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 11, 2019
Formula One’s 1000th Grand Prix in Shanghai is set up to be a thrilling race, with Ferrari hoping to finally end Mercedes’ run and the midfield edging closer together, it’s anyone’s guess who will leave China victorious.