Daniel RicciardoWhat’s the best thing about going to Shanghai?The city’s pretty cool and the markets in particular are a bit of an eye-opener. They seem to have more technology than I ever thought existed. I stay close to the track, so I’ll only really dip into the city for one day, to do a bit of shopping or go out. I’ve found a few nice restaurants in the last few years, and I do like the local food.
What stands out at the Shanghai International Circuit?The paddock – it’s enormous! You need to be an athlete just to get around. As for the track itself, I’d call it ‘technical’. Turns One, Two and Three are all very long and technical. I don’t think there’s any other corner like it on the calendar. And it’s very, very aggressive on the front tyres.
…It also has the longest straight in F1.Yep, it’s long alright. You could drink a can of Red Bull driving down it. I’ve heard quite a few drivers saying it’s pretty boring. Ha! If they think it’s boring in a Formula One car, they should have tried coming here in Formula BMW. I drove here as a kid, all massive afro and enthusiasm and, trust me, it was the sort of straight where I’d definitely have been reaching for a book if I’d had one.
We’ve seen excessive tyre wear in recent years with the life of the option tyre being measured in corners rather than laps. What’s that like to drive?It’s pretty extreme – but I’d still prefer it to the scenario with a tyre that takes three laps to come in. The fact it comes in straight away is awesome. In qualifying, you drive the out-lap like your grandma, desperately trying to not kill it before the flying lap starts.
Daniil KvyatWhat’s the most challenging part of the Shanghai International circuit to get consistently right? The start of the lap is always really tough and it’s very easy to get wrong. The lap starts with a big test but the big thing is to find a good rhythm through it. That’s the case everywhere there really. The long straight is good and the heavy braking zone at the end of that is interesting. It’s a pretty good circuit, wide open, you can really push hard all the way through. I had a good race there last year and managed to get a points finish, so I’m happy to go back.
What’s the most difficult thing about the race weekend off-track?The paddock! It’s huge and really hard to find anything. It looks completely unreal. The best thing about it is that you can hide, walk around on your own in there and not be bothered by anyone!
What about away from the track completely, did you have a look around Shanghai last year? We stayed close to the track last year, so it’s not easy to get a good look around the centre of Shanghai. But we did get a chance to do a bit of sightseeing last year, it’s an impressive city. It’s a really interesting place, but absolutely huge, you drive through all these towns on the way in to the centre that are part of the city and they’re huge.
Daniel RicciardoWhat are you looking ahead to in Bahrain, after Shanghai?We stay in possibly the coolest hotel of the season. I haven’t explored Manama but out near the circuit where we’re based, we stay in a hotel with it’s own beach. Obviously the weather’s great and for training and relaxing for a few days before the event, yeah, it’s pretty sweet.
Rumour has it the Bahrain International Circuit is your second favourite at Sakhir…Ha! Yeah, there’s a really good go-kart track next to the circuit. Last year after testing you could go down there and hang out with the guys working at the track and do a few laps – obviously in your race overalls and helmet trying to look as cool as possible. Pretty good.
…and the grand prix circuit?It was the location of possibly my best qualifying lap ever, so I’ve got a few nice memories of Sakhir. Over one lap there’s nothing that really has the wow! factor but for racing it’s a little better. Last year the race was one of the best. You can pass, and moving to an evening race spices things up a little. It kept you guessing with the tyres. Yeah, it’s a good track to race on. There’s some tricky corners. Turn 10 is a funny turning-turning-braking-braking that’s very technical, and when you get it right it feels good – but there’s nothing that feels sick…
‘Sick’ in the Urban Dictionary sense?Yeah, that’s the one.
On to the Sakhir circuit, the first night race of the season, is that something you enjoy?It makes a difference. The temperature is a lot easier on you as a driver, the tarmac is not so hot. The lighting is very good, there’s no real issue with driving under lights. The track itself is what I would call a kind of ‘classic’ configuration. It’s got some flowing sections, some interesting corners. I enjoy it. It’s a good racing track. The facilities are great and it’s a good paddock.
Is the circuit layout one that you like? I had quite an unlucky race there last year but that doesn’t make it a bad track for me. I think if you’re fast and you’re winning then any track is a good one! If you hit the right lines, if you hit on the right set-up and the right approach to the weekend, you’re going to enjoy yourself.
And off-track?We stay in a nice hotel in Bahrain, it’s right by the beach and the atmosphere there is really nice. I haven’t really been to Manama as it’s pretty much just hotel and track!