This weekend F1 comes to Shanghai, China for its 1000th world championship race.
Mercedes come into the weekend leaders of the constructor standings after opening the season with a couple of one-two finishes in Melbourne and Bahrain. Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas have so far shared the spoils with one victory apiece. Meanwhile, in the driver championship, Valtteri Bottas leads by a single point over his teammate 44 to 43 courtesy of the point he clinched for fastest lap at the season opener about a month ago.
Image Credit: Morio Via Wikimedia Commons
Ferrari in comparison have suffered a fairly poor start to the season and will no doubt be seeking to recover in Shanghai. The season opener in Melbourne saw poor pace from the Scuderia. This was only compounded by fatal mistakes and reliability issues in Bahrain that saw them throw away a race victory. Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel currently linger 4th and 5th in the driver standings respectively. Far below their own lofty standards and certainly not where they will want to be, come the end of the season. The team will certainly be looking for something of a resurgence on Sunday.
Casting an eye the to the midfield, the fight for the coveted 4th place and title of ‘best of the rest’ is as intriguing yet ambiguous as ever. Renault, Haas and
Mclaren all seem to be in the fight. Mclaren, in particular, came out with a show of strength in Bahrain securing a 6th place finish for rookie Lando Norris. Rivals Haas and Renault in comparison had terrible weekends with the former struggling for pace in race trim and the latter seeing both their drivers eliminated late on with a bizarre double engine failure. It will certainly be interesting to see how the challenge of Shanghai suits each of their designs as it remains far from clear who commands the most pace outside of the front three teams.
Looking forward to the weekend in terms of predictions though, it’s hard to look past Mercedes and particularly Lewis Hamilton. Of the fifteen editions of the race thus far, Hamilton has clinched pole position six times converting five of them into wins. He is too backed by a Mercedes team with an excellent record in Shanghai winning the race four consecutive times between 2014-2017. Despite this, team principal Toto Wolff has talked down his team's chances, claiming that the raw power of the Ferrari engine is unmatched on the grid
. Although it's worth noting team principals have a tendency for self-deprecation so it’d be wise not to read too much into it.
Whoever the victor, we’re set for a great spectacle for Formula 1’s 1000th world championship outing. China is known to be a track that produces great racing holding the record for the most overtakes in a single race at 161. The 2018 event was certainly hugely entertaining and there is every reason to expect a similar showing this year. Look out for a typically strong showing from Mercedes, a resurgent Ferrari, and a tight battle in the midfield. It’s set to be a captivating weekend of motorsport.
Lead Image Credit: Artes Max via Wikimedia Commons