Countdown to the 2016 FIA Formula One Chinese Grand Prix

There will be a lot of intrigue surrounding this Sunday’s 2016 Chinese Grand Prix.  Not about the winner, which will likely be Mercedes; whether Nico or Lewis.  The big questions are around everyone else.  Will Ferrari put a car on the track that doesn’t blow an engine?  Will Fernando Alonso be cleared to race?  Will Haas F1 Racing continue to be the Formula One story of the year?

Here’s a quick trip around the F1 news circuit:

Haas F1 Races into Shanghai

The Rookie of the Year candidate from America comes to the Shanghai International Circuit on an epic roll. They’re the first American team in 30 years. If they score points in 3 of 3 races, they will break a 43-year old record.

Now Haas F1 Team – the first American F1 team in 30 years – has the opportunity to create even more history when it arrives in Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix. Sunday’s 56-lap race around the 5.451-kilometer (3.387-mile), 16-turn Shanghai International Circuit will mark Haas F1 Team’s third career start, and beyond Grosjean earning another point-paying result, the ultimate goal is getting his teammate, Esteban Gutiérrez, to the finish and into the points as well.

A glimpse of Haas F1 Team’s collective strength was seen in qualifying at Bahrain, with both drivers advancing out of Q1 and solidly into Q2, with Grosjean qualifying ninth and Gutiérrez qualifying 13th. It was the first time in Haas F1 Team’s history its drivers advanced to Q2 – another milestone achievement in the team’s nascent season.

Q & A with Haas F1 Racing

Gunther Steiner, Team Principal:

Q: Two grand prix for Haas F1 Team, two very strong races for Haas F1 Team. Did you think this kind of success would be possible this soon?

A: “No, not realistically. We always said we would like to score points and make a difference. We wanted to be midfield, but to finish sixth and fifth in our first two races was, for sure, not in the plan. But, we take it and we are very happy about it.”

Q: During each grand prix race weekend, you learn more about the car. But what are you learning about tire strategy and how the different tire compounds affect the car in different ways?

A: “It’s always grand prix-specific. You go out and test on Friday and Saturday and you learn tire degradation, mainly, and grip levels. I think in Australia we used the data we gained in Barcelona because we didn’t run a lot in Australia due to the weather. Every race is different and every track is different. Each tire reacts differently with the track and we always try to learn as much as possible during the race weekend. But again, we have to choose the tires before the race weekend. Our team has made good decisions and picked the right tires, for the right time, for each race weekend.”

Q: Explain the level of sophistication with today’s Formula One car. Why can’t a problem be fixed in the garage during the race in the same manner a problem with a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car can be fixed during the race?

A: “If something breaks in a Formula One car, they are so highly sophisticated that it’s quite a process to determine all that’s wrong and then, normally, there’s not enough time to fix it. Plus, your mechanics are involved in all the pit stops, so when something goes wrong, you can’t pull three or four guys to fix an issue because, by regulation, they’re needed for the pit stop with the other car that’s still running on the racetrack. To try to fix the car just to come in last, 20 laps down, doesn’t make any sense.”

Romain Grosjean, Driver, No. 8

Q: In each grand prix, the start is crucial, and this was especially evident in Bahrain. Both you and your teammate earned a lot of positions at the start. How much of that is strategy and how much of it is seizing opportunity?

A: “It’s both. We started on new tires, which gives you an advantage compared to the car in front of you. Of course, the first corner, the first lap, there are always opportunities. It can be a bit messy, as well. You just have to judge. I was good into turn one, then I was a bit blocked by (Lewis) Hamilton, who had been hit, but it’s just finding the right limit.”

Q: At one point during the race in Bahrain, you had the fastest lap of the race. Is that a glimpse of what the VF-16 is capable of this season?

A: “Yes, I saw that on TV. It’s great. I think the best proof of what the VF-16 is capable of doing is the qualifying and race in Bahrain. Ninth in qualifying, saving tires, and then finishing sixth in the race.”

Q: Haas F1 Team has begun its debut season by surpassing expectations. But how hard is it to stay ahead of the curve in Formula One, as everyone is constantly developing their car?

A: “Now it’s going to be our challenge to keep up with the big boys. We’ve had a good start and have a good baseline. Of course, as a driver, I want more performance. I think there are a few more parts coming in China and then a few more after that. I’m very much looking forward to trying the first updates to see if they’re working as they should. We’re not a hundred percent with the car yet, so there are still a few things we can do without adding the updates.”

Q: Explain a lap around the Shanghai International Circuit.

A: “It’s a fun track. The first corner is probably the best known one. It’s a very long, right-hand turn corner. This circuit is very hard on the front tires. There’s also the very long backstraight with big braking at the end. It’ll be a good test for us to see, on a very different track layout, if we’re as good as we were in Bahrain.”

Esteban Gutierrez, Driver No. 21

Q: Your race in Bahrain was cut short due to a mechanical problem. While disappointing, how do you shake off that disappointment and prepare for the next opportunity in China?

A: “I have the feeling that good times are just around the corner for us to get underway with scoring points consistently. We’ve had a good pace and a good car at two different tracks. I’m just going to keep preparing, keep pushing and keep fighting the same way because soon, the results will be there.”

Q: Haas F1 Team has begun its debut season by surpassing expectations. But how hard is it to stay ahead of the curve in Formula One, as everyone is constantly developing their car?

A: “It is true that we have surprised many people. It’s a situation that probably we didn’t expect – to be that good. We still need to manage our expectations because our car at the moment has reacted pretty well in Melbourne and in Bahrain, but we need to learn how it will react now in China. I think China will give us a good indication of how the season will be, and also the fact that all the other teams are pushing really hard to develop their car during the season. And as the season advances, it will get more and more competitive, so we need to be ready for that. We can still extract more speed and performance from our car, and China gives us an opportunity to do just that.”

AMG Petronas’ Toto Wolff: “We Must Celebrate Record-Breaking Hybrid Cars”


Formula 1 must promote the current generation of cars better than it currently does, according to Mercedes motorsport chief Toto Wolff.

Lewis Hamilton broke the all-time lap record around Bahrain’s Sakhir circuit during qualifying for the 2016 Bahrain Grand Prix, pipping Mark Webber’s original 2005 record by just 0.034s.

Wolff reckons such a feat should be celebrated more than it has, considering Hamilton managed his lap in a hybrid-powered V6 car, compared to Webber’s V10-powered Williams-BMW which weighed 100kg less than the current cars.

“We’ve done that [lap record] with a much heavier car, a standard tyre, not like in the old days where there was a tyre war between Bridgestone and Michelin,” said Wolff.

“It’s a major achievement and it’s something which we should discuss more in public rather than talking the sport down and the inefficiencies.

“We should say ‘this is a hybrid engine, maybe the most powerful ever in a Formula 1 car and we’ve broken lap records from an era with huge 10 cylinder engines’. Those cars are bloody fast, the fastest cars on the planet.”


RedBull F1 at the Chinese Grand Prix

Of all the teams that need to make some noise in 2016 it is RedBull.  Daniel Ricciardo hit F1 like a wave in 2014, and Danny Kvyat was one of 2015’s best rookie drivers.  But in 2016, RedBull is suffering from anonymity. Which is second only to ridicule in motorsports.

Daniel Ricciardo, Driver, Red Bull F1

“The straight at the Shanghai International Circuit is super long which makes it pretty different compared to other tracks. Coming off that straight, you then have to brake for one of the tightest corners on the calendar – you go from one of the highest speeds to the lowest. Turns 1, 2 and 3 are like one big corner, really long and uphill, and this makes it really tough on the front left tyre, it’s one of the toughest circuits for that which can be interesting.

“As a city, Shanghai is cool, but it’s hard for us to get to because the track is quite far away and the traffic can be pretty bad. We usually get one night to go into the city to eat out and get a view of the skyline.

“I remember one year I was at a traditional Chinese restaurant with my mechanics and everything had spice in it, and I love my spice. The pork ribs were amazing! But then you would get something simple like soup or vegetables and it’s covered in chilli so you really need to like your spicy food to enjoy the local cuisine.”

Daniil Kvyat, Driver, RedBull F1

“I think the Shanghai Circuit is actually a really interesting and technical track. Turn One is a unique corner and the fast changes of direction in the middle of the lap are challenging.

“My first race there was in 2014 and we had a wet qualifying which made it challenging as we had very different conditions for the race.

“Shanghai itself is very unique and a really big city. I used to live in Moscow which is big but it doesn’t compare to the size of Shanghai. I think it’s quite an international city, with many things going on there and some nice food. The river that runs through the city is so massive it actually looks like an ocean.

“The fans in China are also very passionate, we have a great group of fans there. I even saw some of them in Australia and they gave me some nice presents. It’s very cool to get this kind of support.”

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Copyright 2016 Hybrid and Electric Car News



Sebastian James

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