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Chinese Grand Prix: ABOVE THE BUTTON LINE
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[Image: fn9q9x.jpg]
The Shanghai International Circuit in the district of Jiading is designed to resemble a Chinese character which means “above” or “ascend”. It is the most advance, challenging and trickiest race track in the world. The circuit is built for F1 cars to change their acceleration and deceleration in different turns on the track which demands a 270 degree turn and up to 300 km/h (186 mph) on the long straight.

The 2009 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix (April 17 – April 19) Preview

The F1 season continues their run in Asia as we head to Shanghai, China. This is the sixth season that Shanghai has hosted the F1 but this time F1 will be hosting it earlier in the season rather at the end.

The Shanghai race circuit was created for the new millennium so it is one of the newest circuits in the F1. The circuit course was designed on a Chinese character which symbolizes the word high or “ascend”. The fans will enjoy this circuit as it is built for the F1 car to change their acceleration and deceleration in different turns on the track. Making the F1 drivers and supporters enjoy the high-speed straights and crucial overtaking when opportunities arise. As seen in other previous season, Shanghai has always benefited the team that has the fastest car on the day. High winding turns and high speed straights will be every cars challenge at Shanghai.

Malaysia Recap
Ross Brawn GP marched on in Malaysia conquering their second Grand Prix out of the 2 races so far. This is the first time that Jensen Button won back to back victories where his 2nd win was won in a bizarre circumstances when the race was suspended after 32 laps of the scheduled 56 due to a dreadful conditions in Sepang. The rain started to pour out into the circuit and the race was forced to be called off as visibility was poor or as one driver had said it, it is nonexistent. Button was on pole position from the start but lost his place to Nico Rosberg. However Button regained his 1st place later and secured 1st place before the rain poured. Teammate Barrichello managed to find himself at 5th place. Nick Heldfield came 2nd and Tim Glock took 3rd on the podium. Robert Kubica and Heikki Kovalainen retired in lap 1 and 2 while the rest of the pack ended their race between 22 to 32 laps when the rain started in Kuala Lumpur.

Technical Recap
The big talk of the week goes to the diffuser controversy. The diffuser is a package of aero changes which is designed to disperse air from underneath the rear car giving a lot more downforce. The FIA wants the diffuser to be more standardized shape and removed the difference in height between the central and two outer sections and all three channels are now taller. Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault lodged the appeal in Australia after stewards rejected their protests over the use of different diffusers. The teams Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault, Brawn GP, Toyota, Williams and McLaren could be affected over the decision from FIA on Wednesday 15th if the charges implicating diffusers are ruled to be illegal.

Brawn GP:
The season has barely started and Jensen Button could be running away with the title if he continues with his present form. Australian GP 2009 and Malaysian GP 2009 winner Jensen Button (1) looks like conquering Shanghai as he has proven that his car has pace and speed. Button’s best result came in 2004 in Shanghai where he ended up on podium on 3rd place. This time he has a big chance to win the GP and he will be hard to beat if he ends up anywhere in top 3 on grid position. Team mate Ruben Barrichello (5) had a different story at Malaysia, however, it is still one of his best start to the season. Barrichello might end up supporting Button in making sure he wins the title race rather than challenging title for himself. What is for certain is that Barrichello is pulling his weight for the Driver Construction Championship. Barrichello has also done well in the past in Shanghai, his best result came in 2004 where he end up 3rd. Team Brawn GP will be pushing the cars again for another first and second in Shanghai. There is no doubt in Brawn GP’s mind that Jensen will be running the show for the team as long as his car keeps the pace. They will muster all the points they can get now as they know they will have to prepare for the other cars challenging them in the latter stages.

Team Toyota:
Jarno Trulli (3) and Tim Glock (4) did not do so badly in Shanghai. This time Trulli kept his podium place and found himself registering points for the Toyota. This year, it looks like Toyota has taken over what BMW Sauber cars were doing last year, playing second fiddle to the title. Timo Glock has really impressive the F1 world with his improved performance and brought his team to a new height. Shanghai has not been a good circuit for Toyota but with the good form and performance they might be able to get a result this coming weekend. They know if they want to maintain their positive form this season then they have to push their car further on the day of the race. Italian Trulli finished the Chinese GP 2008 in lap 2 with accident damage while Timo Glock was placed 7th.

Team McLaren:
Lewis Hamilton (7) once again played catch up to rest of the field and have to say he struggled once again. Hamilton ended up 7th, registering his first point for the title race but that is surely not enough. Lewis definitely is in turmoil with McLaren as last week’s GP in Malaysia was a no pointer despite ending 3rd on the podium due to the “Lie-gate” scandal. Apparently, Lewis and his Technical Manager lied to the stewards regarding Trulli’s overtaking when safety car was on. The issue was that Lewis knew the protocols but told the stewards he was not informed about the overtaking of Trulli. Lewis and McLaren was penalized and disqualified in Malaysia. His team mate Heikki Kovalainen once again retired early in the Malaysia in Lap 1. Ever since Lewis came on board to F1, the McLaren team has never been out of headlines and in Shanghai all eyes will be on them once again. The McLaren cars have done well in the past in Shanghai especially where Lewis has won the race in 2008.

Team Ferrari:
Both drivers ended up outside the points in Malaysia due to a big gamble they took with the wet tires. Brazilian driver, Felipe Massa and Finnish Kimi Raikkonen did not set any pace and so the team decided to change to wet tires at lap 20 before the rain arrives. This proved to be a big mistake as the Ferrari cars were lapping one minute slower than the Brawn GP Jensen Button. Both Ferrari drivers did a solid performance during the qualification for position but it was at the race where it all went wrong. Both drivers will be going back to the planning table with the team and will have to be more aggressive in Shanghai.

Team BMW Sauber:
BMW Sauber had a good race last year in Shanghai 2008. Robert Kubica qualified on 11th place but finished 6th, while team Nick Heidfeld started 9th but finished 5th place. So expect them to go one better depending on where they start on grid. Meanwhile, Kubica did not have a good race in Malaysia. He found himself in trouble already in lap 1 where his engine failed. Heidfeld did not have any problems with the engine and above all he actually started the race as first after only qualifying as 10th in the grid. His strong start to the race in Malaysia paid dividends as team BMW Sauber got their first podium this season and registering few points on the Drivers Constructor Championship. Team BMW has the potential but Kubica has started out a bit disappointing in the last two races so hopefully he will get things right in Shanghai. Both drivers will be seeking to start out well in Shanghai but this time all eyes are on Heidfeld to impress.

Team Renault:
Fernando Alonso won this circuit back to back in 2005 and 2006 so it is no doubt that he has got the ability to win it this year. Malaysia did not do him any favor as he ended up 11th. He will want to seek some pride back and Shanghai would be the best place to start. Nelson Piquet Jr. (13) did not help the team one bit. He has gone one step front last year but it looks evidently that he has gone two steps backwards after his dreadful two starts in the GP. Like all the other teams on the potential fronts, they will have to retune their cars and hope that the drivers will find their form before it is too late to catch the Brawn team.

Team Toro Rosso-Ferrari:
New boy Sebastien Buemi should be proud of his performance at Australia but Malaysia has set him firmly back as a rookie. He ended up last and could find himself in that situation if he does not learn quickly. The rain did help the Toro Rosso team but there is more to reflect than to complain upon. Team mate Sebastien Bourdais (10) had a standard performance in Malaysia and with this steady improvement he is well in contention for points in Shanghai. Again, Bourdais will be leading the team and hopefully Buemi will follow the lead.

Team Red Bull-Renault:
German Sebastian Vettel was nowhere to be seen and very much in his own shadow at Malaysia. Vettel ended up on 15th place and could not keep up with the top half in chasing Button. He spun in lap 30 and therefore ending the Malaysia GP two laps earlier than the rest. Team mate British Mark Webber had a different story. His car did not disappoint him as he finished the Malaysian GP 6th place. Webber started out on 5th in the grid so maintaining that position was more than expected. The rain did help the team as Red Bull car did not seem to be able to keep up with the McLaren as Lewis was hot on his tail. It does seem that there is a steady improvement from Webber but Vettel is more inconsistent. He might change in Shanghai as both drivers have the potential to score points.

Team Williams-Toyota:
Drivers Nico Rosberg (8) started out 4th in the grid but ended up in a disappointing 8th. The issue is very evident that the Williams’ cars cannot compete with other cars in pace. Their cars will require some redesigning or retuning if they want to maintain a good grid start to enable them to score points at the end of the race. Team mate Kazuki Nakajima did better at Malaysia by avoiding crash although he ended up 12th place. With the high hopes of pre-season car trials, the Williams are now finding issues with the cars. It will be surprising if we see the Williams on podium but points scoring are not out of the questions. All eyes will be on Nakajima to see if he pulls out a safety car in Shanghai.

Force India:
This duo has really got nothing to lose when they get on the tracks. Although, both Adrian Sutil and Giancarlo Fisichella will be trying their luck again for Force India in Shanghai. Australia and Malaysia was a good indication that their cars are not up to scratch and anything above 12th place might be their way as a victory in F1. Force India Mercedes engines still needs some work and retuning. Both drivers do not look likely to score points again. Nowhere close to the top.

The Final Verdict:
Button seems to be the man to beat at the moment. He did well in Australia and Malaysia, winning two successive pole position. A minor setback at the start at the Malaysian GP was quickly rectified and he regains the lead just before the heavy rains opened up. Brawn GP looks like they will continue to take advantage of the situation of the other teams not doing well and are determine to push the limit in extending Button’s World Championship Lead. The diffuser saga would have minor effect on the Brawn GP as no matter what happens to their cars, they are by far the best car out of the 10 teams. The question is who is ready to challenge the Brawn GP, apparently McLaren and Ferrari has not step up the mark and looks like they will struggle in Shanghai. Kubica and Heidfeld are the ones that might trouble the Brawn team but if not then a straight forward Brawn GP domination for the first quarter of the F1 season is set to continue.

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