The Formula One Chinese Grand Prix, to be held this weekend at the Shanghai international circuit, will show whether, after its first victory in almost two years, by the hand of four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari has truly been reborn against the supremacy of Mercedes.
The victory of the German two weeks ago in Sepang (Malaysia), the second leg of the championship, was Ferrari’s first in 686 days, since that of the Spanish Fernando Alonso (today at McLaren) on May 12, 2013, at the Grand Prix of Spain.
The Spaniard, who did not compete in Melbourne (Australia) because he was recovering from his accident on February 22 in the tests prior to the start of the season in Montmeló (Spain), and who had to retire in Sepang due to technical problems, aspires to less to start scoring in China, if your MP4-30 car responds.
Meanwhile, in his old Italian team, from which Alonso emerged after his difficulties in recent years to put a competitive car in his hands, Vettel now seems to be beginning to lead the long-awaited renaissance in Maranello, with his two podiums in 2015 ( third in Melbourne, first in Sepang).
However, Vettel acknowledged that in Malaysia the heat was decisive to be able to overcome the Mercedes of the British Lewis Hamilton, current world champion, who finished that Grand Prix second, and his German teammate Nico Rosberg, who was third.
“I think they have probably suffered from the heat more than expected, while we have not had as bad a time as could be expected. Both factors have allowed us to win, “Vettel said at the time, although he already predicted that, with the cool spring temperatures in Shanghai, the Mercedes” will be strong again.
In fact, Hamilton has already added five consecutive podiums on the Chinese circuit (where he won in 2008, 2011 and 2014), and Rosberg also signed his first victory in formula 1 in 2012, while Ferrari, saving Alonso’s victory in 2013, he won there already in 2007 (Räikkönen), as well as in 2006 (Schumacher) and 2004 (Barrichello).
The weather conditions will not favor Alonso and his British teammate Jenson Button (McLaren) either, since the cool temperatures and probable wind expected in Shanghai at this time of year make it difficult to warm up the tires, and a hotter climate, such as that of Malaysia would be more favorable to them.
Ironically, both drivers had to retire in the previous stage, Alonso due to a problem with the cooling of the energy recovery system (ERS) and Button due to a fault in the turbo, while Shanghai, with two of the longest straights in the world, will be very demanding on its power units, which are improving.
Still, for Alonso, historically, Shanghai is not a bad circuit, as he won the Chinese Grand Prix there for the first time with Renault in 2005, the year he won the first of his two world championships, and repeated that victory in 2012 with Ferrari.
Things are better for Alonso’s old teammate, Brazilian Felipe Massa (Williams), who is fourth in the general classification -after finishing fourth in Australia and sixth in Malaysia-, followed by Finn Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari) and his compatriot from Rio, Felipe Nasr (Sauber).
With 13 points behind Rosberg and 20 behind Vettel, it does not seem easy for Massa to climb into the top three in Shanghai, although together with fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas they have put Williams as third best constructor at the start of the season.
Also Spanish Carlos Sainz (son of the two-time world rally champion of the same name), who makes his Formula One debut this year, is eleventh overall, after a ninth and eighth place in the first two rounds of the year.
The Chinese Grand Prix will be held this Sunday, the 12th, at two in the afternoon local time (8 hours CET, 7 hours GMT), on a 5,451-meter circuit, which will have 56 laps, with a total of 305,256 kilometres.
The Chinese circuit, which has a very wide layout, with tight corners and several of the longest straights in the championship, including the longest, which is 1.17 kilometers long, mimics the shape of the Chinese word “shang” (“to go up” , or “next to”), first part of the name of Shanghai (“By the Sea” in Mandarin). EFE