This coming weekend should give us exciting racing at China's Shanghai track, which is very challenging. A particular feature is the very fast, long straight which is followed by a very tight set of three corners which really become one big right-hander!
We can expect the Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton to lead the pack but they should come under increasing pressure from the Ferrari duo of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen.
The Prancing Horse team have revised aerodynamics with, in particular, a very sophisticated new diffuser at the rear.
Both Williams Mercedes (who should further develop their new nose/front wing package) and the Red Bull teams (including Toro Rosso) should not be far behind with their line-up of top men (Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa, Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat, Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz Jr.).
I hope that McLaren Honda continues the upward trend and that Jenson Button may be joined again by his dynamic and highly experienced teammate Fernando Alonso for this race.
We must, however, acknowledge that Stoffel Vandoorne did a tremendous job in Bahrain. Qualifying on Saturday morning is at 8.50am on SS5 and the race on Sunday is at 7.30am on SS6.
Some news from the Le Mans 24 hour race ...
Although we are two months away from this great race, the teams will be frenetically preparing their cars as we read this. The greatest challenge for a win should come from Porsche, Audi, or Toyota, who will be running only two cars each in the Le Mans Prototype one category( LMP 1).
There are of course other entries in this category as well as LMP 2 and the GT groupings. In the GT section the big news is the entry of the new Ford GT which will be competing with Porsche 911s, Chev Corvettes, Aston Martins and Ferraris. A total grid of 60 cars is expected this year.
The Porsche 919 hybrid has a 2-l V4 petrol turbo engine plus battery/electric motor which successively give approximately 500 BHP (to the rear wheels) and about 400 BHP to the front wheels. It accelerates from 0 to 60 mph (100 kph) in 2.2 seconds and from 0 to 120 mph (almost 200 kph) in 4.8 seconds!
Audi's latest R18 e-tron Quattro is quoted by Andre Lotterer as being "one of the biggest steps we've made!" It has a 4-litre V6 diesel turbo engine plus battery/electric power which total about 1000 horsepower (746 kW). Audi now uses lithium ion batteries and although the regs have tried to make cars slower and safer they actually expect increased speed due to improved technology.
Information is scant on the new Toyota Challenger, but we do know that it has a smaller (still secret) turbo petrol engine of probably similar size to the Porsche. I guess it could be an in line 4 or a V6 hybrid. Whatever it is I am sure it will be quick. I hope it will be reliable out of the box. We can then expect a great battle between these top three motor manufacturers.
Finally, it should be noted that the petrol driven cars are allowed a 68.3-l fuel tank while the diesel engined cars, which are more economical, are only allowed a 54.2-l tank.
Article by: Rod Kinsey