Written by Matthew Molver for @Hollywoodbets.
Chinese Grand Prix | Sunday 17 April | Shanghai National Circuit | 07:30
This coming Sunday will see the F1 circus head over to China where they will be racing on the infamous Shanghai National Circuit. This track, with its many winding turns and high-speed straights, is sure to provide all of us motorsport fans with some high-octane, fuel injected thrills and chills.
Another positive for this race is that the FIA have decided to nix the new qualifying rules in an attempt to make the races more exciting.
The now rebuffed qualifying format had been heavily criticised following its introduction in Australia last month and many fans, as well as drivers, will have breathed out a deep sigh of relief when they were informed that the old system would make a welcome return.
The previous race took place in the sun and sand of Bahrain and it offered many unexpected twists and turns. Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg made a phenomenal start, as he rocketed from his offline starting position, past his pole-sitting teammate, and into the lead.
Rosberg’s ideal start virtually secured him the victory. The only time he wasn’t in pole position was when he made his mandatory pit stop. He drove well and neutralised any threats that came up from behind.
In stark contrast to Rosberg’s superb driving, his partner, Hamilton, struggled to produce his customary best. Hamilton was hard on Rosberg’s tail into turn one but what he didn’t realise was that both Williams’ got sterling jumps off the line. When the Brit swung wide to take the first corner, Bottas took it for an open door and aimed straight for the inside. Hamilton turned in on the Finn and the Williams clobbered into the side of the Mercedes.
Both drivers were able to continue without pitting, but the stewards blamed Bottas and hit him with a drive-through penalty. This collision cost Hamilton his usual pole position. Hamilton did manage to limp onto the podium positions behind Kimi Raikkonen of Ferrari, who produced one of his best drives of recent times.
This proved that, although Ferrari might not have the race pace to beat Mercedes, they do have the pace to keep ‘Silver Arrows’ running hard.
Daniel Riccardio of Redbull finished in fourth place emulating his finish in Australia, His consistency could prove to be a positive omen for Red Bull.
Haas showed that they are capable of mixing it up with the mid-table contenders once again. with Grosjean finishing fifth; one position up from his finish in Australia.
Max Verstappen finished sixth – climbing four places from his starting grid position. While Daniil Kyvat finished in seventh. The Russian got swamped by drivers a good few times and exhibited poor defense, but made up for that during the end of the race where he overtook the Williams duo, who took eighth and ninth.
I’m not sure if Williams have really dropped this far back – the team did say Bahrain would be a better acid test for their season’s prospects. It must also be remembered, that Bottas had a drive-through penalty, and both cars had issues in the pits.
It’s a long season, but they’ll want to get the defense of their third-place finish going as soon as possible.
Rosberg’s victory puts him far ahead in the Drivers Championship with 50 points, while Hamilton has 33, Ricciardo has 24, and Räikkönen and Grosjean are tied with 18.
Mercedes widened the gap in the Constructor’s Championship with 83 points to Ferrari’s 33. Red Bull have 30 points while Williams have only racked up 20.
Shanghai’s stunning metropolitan hub will be the backdrop for this weekend’s race at the Shanghai International Circuit. The Chinese really upped the ante in terms of the way modern racing facilities are designed when they built this venue.
Costing some $240m to build, an enormous state of the art main grandstand and accompanying pit complex dominate the course.
The track itself is 5.451km long and encompasses a 1.5km straight which allows drivers to really open up the cars. The circuit also features sixteen turns, with slow tricky hairpins amongst them.
It is a race that will test both the straight line speeds of the vehicles as well as how they handle through the turns. The early hairpins as well, as the extreme temperatures mean tyres will be used up quicker than the goodwill between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton.
Pirelli have opted to issue the medium, soft and the new ultrasoft compound tyres for this race. While the DRS zones are the same as in 2015.
The First zone will be placed on the start/finish straight with a detection zone just before the last corner. The second zone will be activated on the long straight between corners 13 and 14 with detection point in turn 12.
Race day will see the quite pleasant and sunny, with a temperature of 16 degrees Celsius, and no cloud cover, no risk of storms and wind speeds of 11-17mph, with the heat increasing going into the late afternoon early evening.
The qualifying days will be cloudy, with a slight chance of rain on the Saturday but other than that the weather ideal for racing!
To Win Outright
Lewis Hamilton – 1/1 | Nico Rosberg – 13/10 | Sebastian Vettel – 5/1 | Kimi Raikkonen 13/1
Fastest Qualifier: Lewis Hamilton 15/10
Although Hamilton has nothing to prove, and has shown us all his racing chops in previous Grand Prixs, 2016 seems to be his year out of the limelight, that is why I think that Hamilton will be the fastest qualifier this weekend. He will want to push himself to get the best possible position for the start of this Sundays race. We know that the car has both the speed and reliability to get that done. The only challenges Hamilton faces in achieving the fastest qualifier is in his mind. His competitive spirit and confidence in himself will win out I think and he will blast through the qualifying days.
To Win Outright: Nico Rosberg 37/10
For the Chinese Grand Prix outright winner for 2016, I am going to go with Mercedes Nico Rosberg. Having a five win streak this year, as well as having a really quality car has given Rosberg the confidence he needs to carry on winning races. Barring any acts of god, Rosberg has it in the bag. He does need to watch out for Hamilton who will be desperately looking for a first place podium win but as long as he keeps his cool, focuses on the task at hand and carries on having excellent starts he will be fine.
Podium Finish: Daniel Riccardo (TBA)
Red Bull driver, Daniel Riccardio, has shown a lot of promise this season. Being consistent with his driving and not doing anything to turn any heads has bumped him up into fourth place for both the Australian and Bahrain Grand Prix, him and his car are proving to be the “best of the rest”. All he needs is a bit of a lucky break and I think he will be on that podium in Shanghai.