FIA Shanghai GP Preview

Shanghai will host the third round of the 2012 Formula One World Championship as the 12 teams head back to the Far East for the Chinese Grand Prix. This will be the ninth running of the Chinese Grand Prix, all of which have been held at the Shanghai International Circuit. Built on marshland in the district of Jiading, SIC introduced F1 to the plus-size grand prix venue.

Featuring an enormous paddock, team buildings perched above an ornamental lake and spectator facilities capable of seating over 200,000 people, including a main grandstand by itself capable of holding 29,000, the Hermann Tilke-designed circuit is very much a statement. But take away the infrastructure and what's left is an intriguing track that has all the right ingredients to produce a race that mixes tactical challenges with real blood-and-thunder driver appeal. The standout features of SIC are the two enormously long straights, both of which are prefaced by slow corners and terminate in heavy braking zones. It makes for excellent overtaking opportunities into the Turn 14 hairpin and the turn one  'snail'. SIC features two of these  'snails' – sections of track that curl back on themselves in very tight corners. The snail at Turns 1-2-3 has a closing radius – meaning it gets tighter – while the Turn 11-12-13 snail has an opening radius. While Formula One delights in fast, flowing sections of track, the reality is that getting the slower combinations right is what makes for a good lap time and differentiates drivers. Ferrari and McLaren are tied on three wins apiece, with Renault and Red Bull Racing being the other victorious constructors in Shanghai. Red Bull's win in 2009 was its first in F1, though in the 54 races since then they have added another 26 victories for a strike rate just under 50 per cent. Going into this race, however, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso leads the Drivers' Championship while McLaren are top in the Constructors'.