Database preview: 2018 Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prixby Peter Higham on 12th April 2018
Previewing the Chinese Formula 1 Grand Prix with numbers and statistics from the database
Now 17 points down in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship, Lewis Hamilton’s recovery hopes will be buoyed by the fact that he is the most successful driver in the history of the Chinese Grand Prix with five wins. The only other drivers to have won multiple times in China are Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg.
Mercedes engines have been wholly dominant over the last 10 Chinese GPs as well, owing to its long 1.17km back straight and full-throttle approach. Hamilton has started six of his last 11 races in China from pole, scoring points on every occasion apart from his 2007 debut when he spun out on worn tyres. Team-mate Valtteri Bottas has a highest finish of sixth in China: in 2015 for Williams and the same in 2017 for Mercedes.
Championship leader Sebastian Vettel has finished on the podium at Shanghai for the last three years but hasn’t ever led a lap for Ferrari in China. Counterpart Kimi Räikkönen has four Chinese podium finishes under his belt but unlike Vettel, he hasn’t finished in the top three since 2013. Both current Ferrari drivers have only won this race once, Räikkönen in 2007 and Vettel two years later.
Reassuringly for Vettel, the last time Ferrari won the first two races of the season was in 2004, when Michael Schumacher won five in a row to clinch his seventh title.
After a worrying Bahrain Grand Prix, Red Bull will be hoping to at least finish this race. That was the team’s first double retirement since the 2010 Korean GP. Daniel Ricciardo hasn’t scored a podium yet in China, missing out through three fourth-place finishes in the last four years while Max Verstappen recovered from 16th last year to finish third.
Toro Rosso’s contrasting fortunes, owing to Pierre Gasly’s fourth-place finish in Bahrain, was the best result for a Honda-powered car since Rubens Barrichello finished third at the 2008 British GP. Like debutant Gasly, Brendon Hartley will be racing an F1 car for the first time at Shanghai, though the New Zealander won the Shanghai 6 Hours for Porsche in 2015 and ’16 from pole.
Former Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz Jr has scored points here for the last two years and his team-mate Nico Hülkenberg, still hoping for a podium finish after 137 starts, actually led in China for Sauber in 2013 and set the fastest race lap in 2016 for Force India. Points are firmly on the cards for the 30-year-old, who has started the last five F1 races from seventh. Former team-mate Sergio Pérez has hovered around 10th, finishing either ninth or 11th in China for the last six years.
Sauber, which scored its first points in Bahrain since 2005 through Marcus Ericsson’s ninth-place finish, will be pining for a repeat. Ericsson, incidentally, has only scored points at six circuits – and Shanghai is one of them as he finished 10th there in 2015.