F1 Power Rankings: Chinese Grand Prix

For the first time in over a year, Mercedes was defeated on raw pace. It would normally be such a small moment but considering that the Silver Arrows have been dominant since the launch of the new rules formula in 2014, this was a massive moment for Formula One. Now, we might have a competition on our hands.

For this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, it will be a battle between the Mercedes and Ferraris for supremacy. Which team will come out on top? This week’s Formula One Power Rankings tries to answer that question.

f1-lewis-hamilton-helmet-2015#1 Lewis Hamilton
Old Louise Hamilton does everything he can not to give Ferrari credit for winning in Malaysia: “Malaysia was a tough weekend. It always is with the heat – but with car problems on Friday, rain during qualifying on Saturday and a race which didn’t go to plan on Sunday, this one was particularly challenging. I think ultimately we made the best choices we could – but there is always room for improvement and we’ve been working hard to analyse everything for the next race in China.”

f1-nico-rosberg-helmet-2015#2 Nico Rosberg
Unlike Lewis, Keke’s kid is very mindful of the pace of that red car: “It’s not been a perfect start to my sixth year with the team and I’m determined to turn that around this weekend. Of course, my team-mate will have other ideas – and so will my compatriot in the red car, I’m sure. But this is a track that has always suited me well, so I’m aiming to put in a strong weekend.”

f1-sebastian-vettel-helmet-2015#3 Sebastian Vettel
Pirelli Motorsport boss Paul Hembery talks about the tyre strategy for this race: “The front-left tyre is the most stressed in Shanghai, while the traction demands of the circuit also give a lot of work to the rear tyres… Shanghai is a big, open circuit and if you add in heat, it creates a lot of energy – but we’ve seen from Malaysia that these tyres will rise to the challenge. As Shanghai is a large circuit there’s plenty of opportunity for overtaking and big on-track battles. Strategy-wise, we’d normally expect a two-stop race.”

#4 Kimi Raikkonen

f1-felipe-massa-helmet-2015#5 Felipe Massa
Neither of the Williams boys have anything interesting to say: “China is a similar track to Barcelona where we have conducted most of our pre-season testing, so we have a lot of data that can assist us in setting up the car. The track is harsh on the front tyres, often resulting in graining. It’s a good circuit, and you will always see overtaking there due to the long straight, which has the added DRS effect as well.”

f1-valtteri-bottas-helmet-2015#6 Valtteri Bottas
#BO77AS talks about the Finnish fans in China but I thought that was a Hungary thing: “China is a good fun circuit to drive. The long and high speed corners give it a good character, plus it has a very long back straight which aids overtaking and makes the races more interesting. There is a lot of support for the Finns in China which is great to see and they are passionate about Formula One too.”

f1-daniel-ricciardo-helmet-2015#7 Daniel Ricciardo
Renault Sport F1 Director of Operations Remi Taffin talks about the continuous improvements to the engines: “In Malaysia we got close to what we would consider the normal level of driveability we had at the end of 2014. For China we will have some small steps forward. We have continued the intensive test program started after Australia and we will see further results in Shanghai… With the improvements to driveability and overall performance, we hope we can fight the Williams’ cars and grab some more points in China.”

#8 Max Verstappen

f1-romain-grosjean-helmet-2015#9 Romain Grosjean
Romain talks about the impact of the early season travel on the drivers: “It’s not so much the change in temperature than the jet lag you get in the early part of the season from flying to different countries. We’ve seen that China can be pretty cold and drizzly in the past and you don’t get to see the sun there too many times. The weather’s the same for everyone and you’re not thinking about it too much when you’re in the car; you’re just thinking about how to go faster”

f1-felipe-nasr-helmet-2015#10 Felipe Nasr
Young Phil Nasr has the need for speed. This will legitimately help him this weekend: “The track has a combination of high-speed and low-speed corners, which is quite demanding for the tyres and challenging to find a good balance for the car. Besides that, the circuit has a straight which is the longest on the whole race calendar. I believe this could be positive for us as we have a strong top speed.”

#11 Carlos Sainz

f1-pastor-maldonado-helmet-2015#12 Pastor Maldonado
Pastor has a lot of faith is his car. Let’s see if the car has faith in his driving: “I think we should be in a similar position to that we’ve been in for the first and second race, so fighting for the top ten in qualifying and then in the race. Let’s see what the track conditions are like, the weather, how the car feels and how good a set-up we can get. I’m confident we should be fighting for good places.”

#13 Daniil Kvyat

f1-marcus-ericsson-helmet-2015#14 Marcus Ericsson
Keep it on the road this time, Marcus: “I believe the set-up of the car will be similar to the one we had in Malaysia, as the layout of the track has some related characteristics. The weather conditions will be different, as it is not as hot as in Sepang, which will also have an influence on the tyre management. I have a good feeling traveling to China, because we have a competitive car.”

#15 Nico Hulkenberg
The Hulk has high hopes for this weekend’s race in Shanghai: ” I’m not going there with any big expectations, but we’ve got to believe we can fight for some points. It wasn’t possible in Malaysia, but we certainly put up a good fight and will keep working hard. I think our performance level will be similar this weekend.”

#16 Sergio Perez
For that matter, Checo’s not short on complaints either: “The first two races have not been the easiest for me, but as a team we’ve been fighting hard and doing all that we can to find more performance. We have lots of areas to improve, but it’s a long season and it feels like we are moving in the right direction.”

f1-fernando-alonso-helmet-2015#17 Fernando Alonso
Alonso says that the team’s progress in Malaysia won’t be repeated in China: “Like Sepang, it’s got a real mix of corners and some interesting fast stuff around the back of the circuit. Despite those similarities, however, I don’t think our car package will be as well suited here as it was in Malaysia, especially if the weather is as cold and windy as it usually is in early springtime in Shanghai.”

f1-jenson-button-helmet-2015#18 Jenson Button
Ol’ JB talks about the team’s progress in Malaysia: “It’s a pity we didn’t finish the race in Malaysia. We’d made solid progress up until that point in the weekend, and it would have been a fantastic boost to get a car home in amongst some of the cars in the midfield pack. Still, it’s a target to aim for in China, and I hope we can build upon our pace and performance in Malaysia.”

f1-roberto-merhi-helmet-2014#19 Roberto Merhi
Bobby has his first F1 race under his belt so he’s focusing on racing now. Good for him. They need to start taking that next step: “The challenge of getting to know a new track is very exciting for me, especially one that places a lot of demands on the driver, as is the case here at Shanghai. In particular, Turn 1 is a pretty exciting start to the lap which is a real test of skill and the section from turns 7-10 looks really interesting because it’s quite fast and flowing.”

f1-will-stevens-helmet-2015#20 Will Stevens
Willy doesn’t have too much to say seeing as he couldn’t run the race in Malaysia: “There were some positive signs at Sepang with the running I was able to achieve, so I’m looking forward to building on that here in China. It’s been good to have the data from Roberto’s race there for the team to work with and I’m hoping that we can start to get into a good rhythm from this weekend.”


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