Chief operations engineer Mark Gillan has predicted that the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend will provide a 'stern test' for the new FW34 as the team looks to see how it will perform on its Pirelli tyres in China.
Bruno Senna's points finish in Malaysia means the team has already scored more points than in the whole 2011 season, with the new car having been much more competitive than the model it replaced.
With that in mind, Gillan said the Chinese race this weekend would be a good indicator of how the team has improved, especially when it comes to tyre management at a circuit where tyre wear is high.
“Having secured our first points of the season in Malaysia with what is a much improved and competitive car the team are eager to move onto Shanghai as soon as possible,” he said. “The fundamental characteristic of the circuit is that it is aggressive on the tyres and the track will prove a stern test for the FW34 and will be a good indication of how improved our tyre management is compared to last season. Pirelli are bringing the medium (white band) and soft (yellow band) tyres as the prime and option respectively.
“Whilst having one of the highest maximum speeds of any circuit, overall brake severity is low to medium and most other performance metrics are of a medium severity. The loss through the pit lane is high and the chance of a safety car is quite high too, with typically one per race. The weather can be pretty changeable in Shanghai with large temperature swings and the chance of rain - although hopefully not so dramatic as that encountered during the last race in Kuala Lumpur!”
Having opened his account with Williams last time out, Senna said he was keen to try and maintain his Malaysian form into the weekend.
“The car is performing well and showing strong pace so I am confident about our chances in China,” he said. “I have not raced there for two years so I will have to work hard to re-learn the track, but I have good memories of the circuit because it has a good mix of high speed and low speed corners and good overtaking opportunities. I had a good race in Malaysia and hopefully I can continue that form in Shanghai.”