April 11th, 2012 (F1plus Team / Qasim Javed ).- With the three-week break over after the second race of the season, the 2012 Formula 1 season action is going to resume again this weekend with the third round of the campaign, the Chinese Grand Prix.
The teams are on their way to Shanghai to participate in this event already. Heading into the third event of the season, it is expected that this race is going to be another close battle between all the teams on the grid. It is evident from the first two races of the season, and Sergio Perez’s amazing second-place finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix, that the free-flowing nature of the Shanghai International Circuit will suit a lot of teams and bigger teams like Red Bull Racing, Ferrari, McLaren and even Mercedes need to up the ante if they want to stay ahead of the midfielders.
Historically speaking, Lewis Hamilton of McLaren has been the most successful driver here, as he won in 2011 and 2008 as well. McLaren as a team have done well too- they have three wins with the Jenson Button victory which came in 2010. Before McLaren started dominating the Chinese Grand Prix, Ferrari had the edge over other teams as they too, won thrice on this circuit.
And with the rain forecast for this weekend’s event in Shanghai and low temperatures, and with the fact that McLaren fare well in cold conditions, it will be safe to assume that the Grove-based outfit will be the dominant force once again.
However, given the new FIA changes for the 2012 season regarding the banning of exhaust blown diffusers, the teams are appearing to be more evenly matched and stiff competition can be expected not only in the midfield, but the top drivers of the grid might be given a run for their money too by teams like Sauber, Force India, Toro Rosso and Lotus F1.
Kimi Raikkonen has been a winner at this circuit in the past and is already showing no signs of rustiness in the first two races of the season. Their 2012 car, E20 has shown good pace especially during the qualifiers and provided they manage to get a decent starting position in Shanghai, they might prove to be the dark horses of the upcoming grand prix as well.
Sauber too, will be flying high after Perez’s superb second-place finish at the last event in Malaysia. They should be expecting to challenge the front runners not only in the qualifiers, but also during the race. Kamui Kobayashi might be another one to look out for, as Sauber’s car has shown decent pace and given the talent of the Japanese, he will be itching to go one better than his teammate at the Chinese GP.
On the other hand, Red Bull Racing will still be looking to find enough pace in order to challenge for race wins in this season while Ferrari are also expected to feature a lot of upgrades.
Mercedes, who have been the centre of much talk because of their DRS-activated F-duct system, have their own issues to address. Although they have proven that they have the pace required to take the pole for upcoming races, they need to sort out their tyre degradation issues if they are to win races as well.
Not much can be expected from the teams at the bottom of the table including Caterham, Marussia and Hispania Racing. If they can salvage something out of the upcoming race in the shape of points, it will be a dream come true for them, though it seems unlikely.
The action from the upcoming race weekend begins this Friday, April 13 with the practice sessions. Let’s hope this proves to be another evenly matched race. If this is the case, then we are certainly in for a lot of fun in Shanghai.