7th – 9th APRIL SHANGHAI INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT ROUND 2 OF 20
Aerodynamic performance is tested at the Chinese Grand Prix thanks to the circuit’s 1km back straight and its combination of sweeping turns. The back straight is a great place for overtaking, but not the only opportunity on the track. The layout’s demanding
corners test the Pirelli tyre whilst fans cheer on their heroes in the 24,000 capacity grandstand.
An addition to the calendar in 2004, the first sequence of corners on the track have been described as one of the hardest in Formula One as fast entry speeds are quickly discarded under heavy breaking due to a tightening track for almost 270° before quickly changing direction. The Chinese Grand Prix is host to the continuing growing fan base in Asia.
For China, Pirelli has made available the supersoft, soft and medium tyres.
Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer: “The Shanghai International Circuit is the first track this season which will test the all-round performance of the car and so we will arguably see a truer measure of the relative performance of the cars within the new regulations. It is a great track with some demanding high-speed corners and a long back straight which is traditionally good for overtaking, but requires good set-up to ensure speed can be carried onto the straight. It is great to be heading to China as there is a growing fan base with more local fans each season showing remarkable dedication to the sport. It is also an important race for us understand where we are in the Championship to address the challenges for the season with our continued aim to improve and make progress.”
Felipe Massa: It’s always nice to go to China. I really like the track. It has a very old style, with many high speed corners and one of the longest straights in Formula One. It’s definitely a fun track to drive. I also love the Chinese fans. They have a lot of love and whenever I leave my hotel they’re always outside waiting! So I’m really looking forward to seeing them all again.
Lance Stroll: This will be my first time in mainland China, as in the past I have just been to Macau where I raced in F3. I don’t know a lot about the circuit. I have only done some simulator work on the track, so I still have to wait to see what it is like in reality. However, I have watched some of the races there so have an idea about the scale of the track. After Melbourne, which is a narrow track, I am going to change my approach a bit as it is a little more forgiving with the large run off areas. Having said that, I shall just prepare in the normal way as well as I can for the race.
JENSON BUTTON TO DRIVE ICONIC MCLAREN M23 AT ROLEX MONTEREY MOTORSPORTS REUNION
McLaren ambassador Jenson Button will delight fans when he gets behind the wheel of Emerson Fittipaldi’s 1974 world championship-winning McLaren M23 at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion on August 17-20.
The event, held at the similarly iconic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, represents all that is good and glorious about classic motorsport, with more than 550 historic entries on the race card for the weekend.
For Jenson, who notably drove the M23 at Silverstone and in London’s Leicester Square at the premiere of the Rush movie in 2013, the Monterey event will mark his first outing in Formula 1 machinery since hanging up his F1 helmet in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2016.
“It’s always special to drive a grand prix car with an illustrious history, and the M23 wrote one of the most significant chapters in motorsport history throughout much of the 1970s,” said Button. “It’s a somewhat strange sensation to drive a car from this era – you sit much more upright in the cockpit, and you feel like you could almost reach out of the cockpit and touch the front wheels. But, once you drive it, you quickly start to understand what made it so successful – it’s incredibly easy to drive, has a really consistent balance, and plenty of feel. Everything you put into it, you get out of it, which is very rewarding for a driver.”
The McLaren-Ford M23 contested 80 grands prix between 1973 and 1978, winning 16 grands prix and three world championships (1974 drivers’ and constructors’; 1976 drivers’).
“We are honored to host Jenson Button at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and showcase a car with such great history,” said Gill Campbell, CEO and general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “Formula 1 is the pinnacle of racing advancement and Jenson’s spirited exhibition laps will provide a superb link to motorsport’s past that fans will assuredly enjoy.”
This year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion honors the Diamond Jubilee of Formula Junior and the 70th anniversary of Ferrari, as well as celebrating the 60th anniversary of the raceway itself. The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion has matured over the decades to become much more than a showcase of exemplary historic and period-correct cars racing at an iconic venue. It is a lifestyle experience where like-minded premium brands assemble to celebrate motoring’s finest cars with enthusiastic collectors, racers, fans, and journalists.
Advance hospitality, VIP, preferred parking and general admission tickets to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion are on sale at www.MazdaRaceway.com. For additional information, please call the Ticket Office at 831-242-8200.
CLARK AND NASIR ARE SOOOO DELIGHTED WITH FERRARI’S WIN IN MELBOURNE AND CAN’T BELIEVE THE HONDA MCLAREN DISASTER NOW IN IT’S THIRD YEAR! TO CHEER UP FERNANDO WE HAVE A WONDERFUL CONVERSATION WITH FORMER FORMULA ONE DRIVER NICK HEIDFELD AND THE F1W GURU AT THE 12 HOURS OF SEBRING.
Nick Heidfeld was racing Motocross bikes with his brothers Tim and Sven before the age of five. He tried karting at a circuit near the Nurburgring and showed promise, and received his first kart when he was eight.
After eight years’ karting including European and World Championship competitions Heidfeld, aged 17, moved into the German Formula Ford championship. Eight wins from nine starts made him class champion in 1994. The following year he was International German Formula Ford champion and moved up to Formula Three.
He spent two years in the German F3 series with Opel Team BSR. The first season saw him take three wins and finish third overall, the title being won by future F1 driver Jarno Trulli Heidfeld returned in 1997 and went into the final two races at the Nurburgring three points behind Timo Scheider. But with a pair of wins Heidfeld snatched the title with 224 points to Scheider’s 218. He also won the Monaco Formula Three race.
He got his first Formula 1 test the same year with McLaren-Mercedes and moved up to Formula 3000 with the team’s support. Heidfeld finished runner-up to Juan Pablo Montoya in 1998, having won three times. The next year Heidfeld dominated the category, winning four of the first six races and comfortably beating Jason Watt to the title. He also made further testing appearances for McLaren and it was believed the team were grooming him for a race seat.
But when Heidfeld arrived in F1 in 2000 it was with Alain Prost’s team. It was a difficult debut with a slow, unreliable car and a very experienced team mate in Jean Alesi.
Heidfeld compared well with his team mate, but the pair collided in the Austrian Grand Prix when Alesi tried to pass him.
The following season Heidfeld switched to Sauber where he partnered rookie Kimi Raikkonnen. Heidfeld scored his first podium on his third outing for the team and out-scored Raikkonen 12 points to nine, but McLaren were impressed by the young Finnish driver and signed him instead of Heidfeld to partner David Coulthard for 2002.
Heidfeld said: “It’s not a big disappointment especially because everyone has seen it coming over the last couple of weeks, but of course I was surprised. They should know what they are doing, but I don’t know – I don’t think I’ve done a lot wrong. I didn’t do a worse job than [Raikkonen].”
He stayed at Sauber for another two seasons, first with Felipe Massa as his team mate, then Heinz-Harald Frentzen. But the team were slipping down the field and Heidfeld found himself at Jordan in 2004. It was another team on the verge of being taken over but Heidfeld managed to claim a pair of points finishes.
That attracted the attention of Williams and engine partners BMW, who tested Heidfeld alongside Antonio Pizzonia for a 2005 race seat. Despite Pizzonia having driven for the team as a substitute in 2004, Heidfeld won the 2005 seat with support from BMW’s Mario Theissen.
Heidfeld quickly repaid their faith, scoring podiums at Sepang, Monte-Carlo (following a gutsy pass on Fernando Alonso) and the Nurburgring, having started from pole position at the latter. Late in the year he suffered a crash in testing at Monza and then a cycling accident, causing him to miss the final five rounds.
Williams and BMW went separate ways at the end of 2005, with BMW taking over Sauber to set up their own F1, team, and taking Heidfeld with them. He was comfortably quicker than Jacques Villeneuve in the first half of the season before the 1997 world champion was replaced by Robert Kubica.
Heidfeld got the new team on the podium at the Hungaroring but his rookie team mate was third at Monza. Heidfeld publicly admitted that Kubica had forced him to raise his game and as 2007 got under way it certainly looked as though he had.
With BMW comfortably the third quickest team Heidfeld was regularly chasing the McLarens and Ferraris and occasionally claiming a scalp – as when he passed Alonso at Bahrain to take fourth place off the McLaren driver. He ended the year fifth with 61 points to Kubica’s 39.
Heidfeld spent most of 2008 struggling to match Kubica’s pace, especially in qualifying. But he was extremely consistent, taking a classified finishing in every round and breaking Michael Schumacher’s record for most consecutive finishes. But he also extended his record for most second place finishes without a victory, while Kubica scored his and BMW’s maiden win at Montreal.
By the end of the year Heidfeld was back on terms with and even ahead of Kubica once again. The pair remained at BMW for 2009 but their new car was well off the pace and racing for wins was out of the question.
Heidfeld managed to out-score Kubica but with BMW quitting the sport both men moved on to new teams in 2010. Heidfeld joined the new Mercedes Grand Prix team as the reserve driver alongside race drivers Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.
Mercedes released Heidfeld halfway through 2010 so he could conduct tyre testing for new official F1 tyre suppliers Pirelli.
Shortly afterwards he re-joined Sauber to replace Pedro de la Rosa for the final five races of the year.
However he was replaced by Sergio Perez at the end of the season.
An opportunity to continue race in F1 presented itself when Kubica was badly injured in a rally accident in February.
Heidfeld was drafted in to take the Polish driver’s place at Renault from the start of the season.
His year got off to a promising start with a podium finish in Malaysia. But he tended to qualify behind junior team mate Vitaly Petrov and despite scoring most of the team’s points was dropped after 11 races.
Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton sat together in a picture of uneasy harmony. The German had swept into the press room in jubilation, almost lifting his manager, Britta Roeske, clean off her feet as he celebrated Ferrari’s restoration to their accustomed place at the summit of Formula One.
Beside him, Hamilton was respectful but pensive, as if recognising that his rival’s superbly-judged win here at Albert Park heralded a changing of the guard.
Toto Wolff knew it, too. When Vettel emerged on track ahead of Hamilton after the decisive pit-stop, the normally composed Mercedes team principal was caught on TV banging his fist hard on the desk, twice. “Yes, I need to work on my emotions during the race,” Wolff said, acidly. “Perhaps I need to see someone professionally about it.”
In the buildup to the Formula One season-opener here in Melbourne, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel had both gone to some effort to cast the other as favourite for the sport’s new era. As it transpired when they finally went head to head in the first properly competitive session of 2017, it was Hamilton and Mercedes who still had the advantage, having already enjoyed a remarkable period of dominance in winning the drivers’ and constructors’ championships for the past three years.
But while Hamilton and the Silver Arrows taking pole in Albert Park – his sixth at the circuit – was a clear sign the team have not dropped the ball in adapting to the new regulations, it was heartening that Vettel pushed him so hard and better still that the German was optimistic that there was more to come on race day.
DANIEL RICCIARDO First Practice Session: 1:24.886, Position: 3, Laps: 19 Second Practice Session: 1:24.650, Position: 5, Laps: 27
“We looked pretty strong this morning and then we tried a few things this afternoon but I don’t think they worked in our favour. I’d like to learn a bit more from this afternoon’s session and then if we could pull all of that together with the strength of this morning I’ll be happy. Mercedes sure is quick but it’s more Lewis at the moment than Valtteri, who looks like he’s more in the group of Ferrari. I think we can be there as well. Pole might be a stretch but I think we can be in that next little group with the right set-up and the right lap in quali. If Lewis does the perfect lap then that’ll be a challenge to take the pole away from him but we’re not too far off. You certainly feel more traction with the new tyres. I thought the times would have been quicker though; this morning I felt a big chunk of grip but I was expecting low twenties. There is still time to improve tomorrow. I think the wind changes so that’ll make a quicker lap time but the traction is nice. It felt awesome to be out on the track this morning, I just felt I was back in my happy place and it was cool to already see so many fans on a Friday. It’s also a circuit I enjoy because it’s a fun layout. I think we can have a very good weekend from here.”
MAX VERSTAPPEN First Practice Session: 1:25.246, Position: 4, Laps: 19 Second Practice Session: 1:25.013, Position: 6, Laps: 8
“Today was about trying to find and improve the balance of the car after getting out on track for the first Friday practice of the year. We are about where I expected us to be, we have some work to do overnight to make sure we are in a good position for tomorrow and can get the best out of the car. It was nice to try the RB13 for the first time here at Albert Park, it definitely felt faster and a bit more enjoyable through the corners, being a street circuit it will improve by qualifying quite a lot which means more fun for us. I ran wide and ended up on the grass which unfortunately damaged the floor and cut short the second session for me. Mercedes seem quick once again so they are the target to beat but we must also do some work overnight to be ahead of Ferrari who also look strong. Hopefully we will have a good start on Sunday, then we are at the front and can make it hard to overtake.”