11/04/2012

Weekend preview!

The third race of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship gets underway this weekend at the Shanghai International Circuit in China.

Like the previous two races this season, Sahara Force India will go into the weekend with the aim of Q3 and solid points. Realistically at the moment the grid way too tight to predict a finishing position with any degree of accuracy, as we saw in the last race with Sergio Perez in the Sauber finishing second. As such it's just going to be a case of picking up as many points as possible and seeing where the team are in the standings on a race-by-race basis. It's worth noting that reserve driver Jules Bianchi will get his first outing for Sahara Force India this weekend in FP1.

Meanwhile at the back of the grid, the battle is much simpler. Caterham, HRT and Virgin are the teams wanting to grab that 10th place in the constructors championship and Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan will be hoping he can make the difference for HRT this weekend at a track where he has been quick in the past. Back in his first stint in F1 in 2005 he was one of the quickest cars on the circuit during the Chinese GP but unfortunately he would eventually crash out of the race - infact it was a pretty big impact into the barriers but thankfully he was okay.

Narain Karthikeyan's 2005 Chinese GP crash - live

Narain Karthikeyan's 2005 Chinese GP crash - replays

What does play into the hands of the slower teams this weekend is that rain is predicted in all sessions and it's supposed to be particularly heavy in the race; last time out we saw what Narain could do in the wet, upto 7th place at one point!

Here is what everybody had to say ahead of this weekend's action:

Paul Di Resta (Sahara Force India driver):
"China is a great place and Shanghai is a city I enjoy visiting. It's such a big place, there is a lot to see and I enjoy it even more each time I go there. The track has some unusual features. Turn one is very long and feels like it goes on forever. The key to getting it right is how much entry speed you can carry into the corner. You also have to look out for one of the biggest bumps of the year at the corner entry, which makes it difficult. The best chance (to overtake) is Turn One or into the very tight hairpin of Turn 14, which widens on the entry and makes it difficult to defend. We also saw the effectiveness of DRS last year, which helped produce some good racing and it should be the same this year".

Nico Hulkenberg (Sahara Force India driver):
"It's not my favourite race of the year, but they've done a good job to build a really impressive facility and it's a fun track to drive. It's difficult to predict how well we will do there, but given how close the grid is at the moment I think it should be a good show for everyone who is watching".

Note: For a special Q&A from Nico, conducted by F1.com, click here.

Jules Bianchi (Sahara Force India reserve driver):
"Flying to #Shanghai ! Looking forward to my first free practice with @ClubForce ! :) #F1"
 
Vijay Mallya (Sahara Force India team principle):
"After two races the 2012 season appears to have all the ingredients needed to serve up a spectacular year of racing. Already the fans have enjoyed two thrilling races and the intensity of the competition across the grid is sure to capture everybody's attention. I said last year that the competition in the midfield was close, but this year it seems to be even more so with the majority of the grid capable of fighting for points. It's a good situation for Formula One, but it also means points are harder to come by. It's encouraging that we have scored points in both races and that will be our aim once again in China. I have to congratulate Paul and Nico on their excellent drives in Malaysia. They are only in their second full seasons of Formula One, but they both showed their maturity in the difficult conditions. At times Paul was one of the fastest cars on the circuit, excelling in the conditions, and it's clear that we can expect another strong season from him. I was also delighted to see Nico pick up his first points with us after such a strong showing. In terms of car development, the factory at Silverstone continues to work at full capacity to improve our performance. The first two races have given us a great deal of information to work with and we will put it to good use in the coming races".

Narain Karthikeyan (HRT driver):
"We took a step forward in Malaysia and our aim is definitely to carry the momentum into China and rest of the season. Although we managed to finish the race, cooling was still an issue at Sepang and once we have it sorted out completely we'll be able to unlock some more performance from the car. The back straight at the Shanghai circuit is of course one of the longest on the calendar and the tightening first corner is uniquely challenging since the corner entry is in top gear and by the time you exit you're in second. Plus there are a fair amount of technical slow-speed corners as well, and the high-speed direction change of turns 7/8. Given these mixed characteristics, it is a demanding circuit for traction, aero and braking stability in equal measures".

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