A week on from an incident packed Malaysian Grand Prix the FF1M Circus crosses the South China Sea to Shanghai.
Shanghai is the worlds largest city with a population of 24 million people in 2014. It also has the largest metro system in the world with 400 miles of track beneath the city.
The Shanghai International Circuit made its FF1M debut in 2004. Cristiano Da Matta took the inaugural pole positon for Dark Wolf but it was the much-missed Shannon team’s Vitantonio Liuzzi who took victory after Da Matta’s Dark Wolf team mate Marc Gene retired from the race with five laps remaining.
Fernando Alonso goes into Sunday’s race needing a result after retirement in Melbourne and a pit lane miscommunication in Sepang. Alonso will take solace in the fact that his Willows Racing car has shown to have good pace and should suit the long straights of the Shanghai International Circuit.
One team struggling for pace is Tornado. Whilst many have been surprised at the form of the team widely considered to have the best car in 2012 and 2013, it should perhaps not be such a shock given that the team have decided to build their own engine for the first time and therefore have not been able to dedicate as much time to their chassis as they would have done in previous seasons. It’s also clear perhaps that there may have been some over confidence on the teams part with regard to the performance they could carry over from the 2013 car.
Looking back at the results from last season, whilst it is clear that Tornado had the best car at the start of the year, by the end they were being beaten in qualifying by teams with the same customer Ferrari engine. In Brazil Grosjean qualified 8th, behind Vettel, Alonso and Button who all shared the same engine, whilst in the US Grand Prix Grosjean was again behind Vettel in qualifying. Had complacency set in? It will be very interesting to see how Tornado recover this season. They have a rapid young charger in Tomas Gonzalez waiting in the wings and I’m sure that he will be parachuted into the team as soon as he has earned the relevant super license.