Chinese Grand Prix 2014 Preview: Start Time, TV Info, Weather, Schedule, Odds
The 2014 Formula One Chinese Grand Prix takes place on Sunday at the Shanghai International Circuit.
Designed by Hermann Tilke, the circuit opened in 2004 and held its first race the same year. This will be the 11th running of the Chinese Grand Prix.
Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso are the only drivers to have won the event more than once, both owning two victories. Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel, Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen have also won here.
The two Mercedes cars have dominated F1 so far this year.
Can they add to their tally, or will someone else record a shock win?
Read on for current standings, a track map and guide, tyre and DRS information, weather forecast, odds and the all-important TV and session times.
Nico Rosberg's second place in Bahrain means he retains the lead in the drivers' championship, albeit with a reduced gap back to second-placed Lewis Hamilton.
Nico Hulkenberg is third, with defending champion Sebastian Vettel down in sixth.
The Top 10 are (standings from Formula1.com):
In the constructors' championship, Mercedes already have a massive lead. Force India and McLaren are their closest competition, with four teams yet to score.
Shanghai International Circuit Track Map and Guide
The Shanghai International Circuit was built at a cost of 2.6 billion yuan (then £200 million) between 2003 and 2004, on swampland near the Chinese megacity.
It was designed by Hermann Tilke.
The circuit features the track architect's standard fare of a few hairpins and an incredibly long straight, which should suit the Mercedes teams.
Because it's on a former swamp, some of the corners need regular checks for subsidence. Three were relaid in 2011, but none have needed attention in 2014.
Turns 1, 2, 3 and 4
A lap begins on the pit straight, with a medium-length run down the first corner, Turn 1.
This is a magnificent corner which is tough to get perfect. The drivers turn in at over 300 kilometres-per-hour and gradually bleed off pace as the corner curls around on itself like a snail shell.
At over 270 degrees this right-hand corner represents the biggest direction change of any turn in F1. It's so long they gave it two numbers, so it counts as Turns 1 and 2.
After seven seconds of careful braking and throttle-feathering, the drivers are down to around 100 kilometres an hour at the end of the corner. But they get little respite, because Turn 3 follows immediately.
A tight, slow hairpin left, the corner requires a rapid change of direction. The layout means a car could go around the outside of the first corner and have the inside line here. This is especially true on the first lap.
Turn 3 leads into a more open, wide left (Turn 4) which sends the cars out onto a short straight.
Turns 5 and 6
Turn 5 is a full-throttle right-hand kink which causes no one any problems, then shortly after comes heavy braking for the right-hand hairpin of Turn 6.
This is a possible overtaking spot, especially if a driver got out of shape defending through the opening sequence.
The exit represents another passing opportunity, especially for a car on fresher tyres.
Turns 7, 8, 9 and 10
From a driving point of view, the next section is perhaps the most interesting.
Turn 7 is a long, fast left-hander, with a rapid direction change at the exit into a slightly slower and shorter but still quick right.
Speeds through these two corners should be a little lower this year than they were in 2013, due to the reduced downforce levels.
The fast sequence ends with Turn 9, a tight left-hander. The drivers brake for this corner barely a second after the exit of the Turn 8, and it's not unusual to see someone get it a little bit wrong on the entry.
Turn 10 is a relatively straightforward left-hand kink, which should cause few problems, and a medium-length straight follows.
Turns 11, 12 and 13
Braking for Turn 11, a tight left-hander, is quite hard but the preceding straight isn't really long enough for this to be a prime overtaking location.
Turns 12 and 13 form one very long corner.
Turn 12 is a tricky, medium-speed right. The apex is very early, and the drivers have to wait for what seems like an age before hitting the throttle pedal.
A good exit from Turn 12 is essential as the drivers dive into the long right-hander of Turn 13. This corner was full-throttle in 2013 but a bit of feathering might be necessary this year.
It leads out onto the extremely long back straight.
Turns 14, 15 and 16
The drivers enter the back straight doing in excess of 230 kilometres an hour. Thirteen seconds later they'll be doing around 325 kilometres an hour before braking just 120 metres before the tight right-hand hairpin of Turn 14.
This is one of the best places all year to see the truly awesome power of an F1 car's brakes as over 250 kilometres an hour are scrubbed off in just three seconds.
It's also the best overtaking spot on the circuit.
Turn 15 isn't really a corner at all, but like in Bahrain (look at the final turn) it seems Tilke was paid by the corner.
After a short straight comes the final corner, Turn 16, a very tricky, medium-speed left. The drivers need to be very precise when hitting the apex, or they'll find themselves taking a trip across the run-off at the exit.
The circuit drops downhill a touch, and the start-finish line is around halfway down the pit straight.
The pit lane entry is straight on at Turn 16, and the exit is just before Turn 1.
Tyres and DRS
Lengthy corners like Turns 1, 7, 8 and 13 put a lot of lateral strain on the tyres, while Pirelli say the braking zone at Turn 14 subjects the tyres to a deceleration force of 4.3g.
But those areas aside, it's not a particularly bad circuit for tyres.
Pirelli are bringing the yellow-marked soft and white-marked medium compound tyres.
The soft will, of course, be the tyre of choice for qualifying, while the medium should see the most use on Sunday.
There will be two DRS zones at the Chinese Grand Prix.
The first will have its detection point between Turns 11 and 12, with an activation point a little less than halfway down the main back straight. It ends at Turn 14.
The second zone's detection point will be just before Turn 16, and the zone will run the length of the pit straight.
Shanghai lies in a region with a humid subtropical climate. Rainfall is common all year round, with April temperatures usually a shade below 20 degrees Celsius.
Friday is forecast to be clear, but rain is possible on Saturday. Sunday should also be dry, and temperatures throughout the weekend will be slightly cooler than the average.
The hairstylists will be pleased to learn there won't be much in the way of wind.
But weather in this part of the world isn't always easy to predict, so keep an eye out as we get closer to the weekend.
BBC Weather will have the latest.
Unsurprisingly, the two Mercedes drivers are way out in front in the betting.
Lewis Hamilton, twice a winner here, is the favourite, but Nico Rosberg has won here too.
The 10 with the shortest odds to win are:
Pastor Maldonado (12-1) leads the way in the betting to be first retirement. Next up are Jules Bianchi, Romain Grosjean, Marcus Ericsson and Kamui Kobayashi (all 14-1). No retirements is 33-1.
A safety car appearance (6-5) is considered marginally less likely than no appearance (4-6).
While everything else seems to be going wrong at Maranello, there is at least one glimmer of sunshine. Ferrari's mechanics (6-4) are strong favourites to perform the race's quickest pit stop, ahead of McLaren (4-1) and Red Bull (5-1).
All odds taken from Oddschecker.com and correct at the time of publication.
Session and TV Times
As always, the Chinese Grand Prix weekend will consist of three free-practice sessions, qualifying and the race.
The session times are as follows:
|Practice One||Friday||10 a.m.|
|Practice Two||Friday||2 p.m.|
|Practice Three||Saturday||11 a.m.|
All are given in Shanghai local time (CST). Interestingly, despite its vast size, China only has one time zone.
Formula1.com has a handy one-click tool to convert them to your own timezone.
In the United Kingdom, live coverage of all sessions is being provided by Sky Sports F1. Times are given in BST:
|Day||Show Start||Session Start|
|Practice One||Friday||2:45 a.m.||3 a.m.|
|Practice Two||Friday||6:45 a.m.||7 a.m.|
|Practice Three||Saturday||3:45 a.m.||4 a.m.|
|Qualifying||Saturday||6:00 a.m.||7 a.m.|
|Race||Sunday||6:30 a.m.||8 a.m.|
The BBC is showing highlights of qualifying and the race. The qualifying programme begins at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, with the race show at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
In the United States, NBCSN has live coverage of second practice starting at 2 a.m. on Friday. Live qualifying coverage starts at 2 a.m. on Saturday, with live race coverage from 2:30 a.m. on Sunday.
All NBCSN times are Eastern (EDT).
Enjoy the weekend!