Although he admits that the Chinese Grand Prix
is not one of his favourites on the Formula One calendar, Renault
F1's Robert Kubica
concedes that the Shanghai International Circuit
is a feast for the senses.
"The track in Shanghai is an impressive place," the Pole notes, "There's an amazing infrastructure, big buildings, and lots of space, although it's not really something you are aware of when driving the car.
"As a circuit it's quite technical because you need a car that works well in slow and quick corners. Good straight-line speed is also important, along with braking stability. It's therefore difficult to find the ideal set-up and you have to make a compromise with the aerodynamic balance. Most cars usually prefer to run with more downforce and sacrifice speed on the straights.
"The start of the lap is a real technical challenge because it's basically a full circle. I find it tricky because it's such a long corner, which gets tighter, and you cannot see the apex. The length of the corner makes it one of transition where you are bit on the brakes and a bit on the throttle so that you carry as much speed as possible. You also get a lot of understeer, which makes it easy to run wide and can put you offline for turn two.
"The lap has several high-speed corners, such as turns seven and eight. These corners follow each other closely, so it's important to get a good line on the exit of seven to be online for the entrance of eight. Your line through seven can drift a bit depending on how much your car is understeering, but most cars will take the same line through this sequence.
"Turns eleven and twelve are low-speed corners, but the exit of turn twelve is very tricky. You have to get on the power early because the corner opens up into the banked turn 13, which leads onto the long back straight. You need to look out for snap oversteer in turn twelve but, once you're on the power, you don't want to lift the throttle. However, you usually get understeer through turn 13, which can really hurt your speed onto the straight. In the car, it feels like the back straight never ends, so it's a good time to make adjustments on the steering wheel or talk on the radio.
"The hairpin at turn 14 is a very good opportunity for overtaking and is the biggest braking zone of the lap. You always try to brake as late as possible and you need to be careful not to lock your wheels too much because it costs you a lot of lap time. It's a difficult corner and hard to get your braking point spot on for every lap of the grand prix.
"Turn 16, the final corner, looks like it should be straightforward, but it's easy to get it wrong and lose time here. You need to get on the power early, but there is a small bump in the middle of the corner, which makes it tricky."