Following the spectacular PETRONAS Malaysian Grand Prix that saw Nick Heidfeld take second for the BMW Sauber F1 Team, the Chinese Grand Prix is now next on the weekend of 17th to 19th April. Previously always held in the autumn, the GP will this time take place in spring.
Robert Kubica: “It’s the first time we’re going to Shanghai at this time of year, when there is a high chance of rain. That can have a major impact on the whole weekend, of course. The circuit is very challenging with long straights and hard braking. Plus there are several high-speed corners, for example the slightly banked right-hander you take at almost full throttle and that leads onto the back straight. It’s one of the longest straights on the whole race calendar. And, of course, the combination of turn one and two with the blind apex and the long braking is a real challenge. So far Shanghai hasn’t brought me any luck, but I’m hoping that will change this time round.”
Nick Heidfeld: “This year’s race is scheduled much earlier than before, so we can probably expect considerably lower temperatures. That will make a difference to the tyres in particular, but it will also bring with it a different atmosphere. We’ve seen some good races in Shanghai, and I hope that will be the case in 2009 as well. The first corner is the highlight of the circuit. You go into it at high speed, and to begin with you stay on the throttle, but then it keeps tightening up and you have to drop down to second gear.
“The city of Shanghai is just as exciting. We’ve been racing there since 2004 and you can really observe how the city is changing from year to year. On the one hand there are extremely poor districts, while on the other you get smart restaurants along the Bund with a great view of the Pearl Tower and the Shanghai skyline. The traffic is unpleasant, and we’re not allowed to drive ourselves here. Last year my driver had an accident on the motorway on Saturday night. You quite often get cars unexpectedly stranded on the road, and obviously it was too late for him to brake. Fortunately it wasn’t serious, but traffic conditions in Shanghai are really terrible.”
Mario Theissen, BMW Motorsport Director: "After a short Easter break, we look forward to the second back-to-back of the season. Shanghai is a booming city of millions, and the sheer scale of the race track and its facilities are unsurpassed. From the point of view of BMW as a car manufacturer and all our partners, the Chinese GP is of significant commercial interest. This region has enormous growth potential.
“China is our biggest market in Asia and the fifth largest worldwide. Since 2004 BMW has also run a production plant in China, where BMW 3 Series and BMW 5 Series models are manufactured as part of a joint venture. Unlike last year, this year’s race takes place early on in the season. In Shanghai we hope to continue on from our successful result in Kuala Lumpur.”
Willy Rampf, Head of Engineering: “The Shanghai circuit has several fast corners that demand a great deal of downforce and high vehicle stability. Due to the restrictions on aerodynamics introduced this season, we will probably be running with maximum downforce. But there are also long straights where maximum speed is of the essence. Because the track is very wide and the run-off areas are mostly tarred, a bit of a slide doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of the race. That’s an incentive for the drivers to overtake, so we can look forward to quite a spectacular race. Good car balance is important, particularly in the first turn combination. The drivers go into it at very high speed and brake deep into the corner. This section is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the season in terms of testing driving skills. All in all, Shanghai is a very challenging circuit.”