Recapping all of the news and notes following Friday in Shanghai, here is Michael Lamonato's paddock notebook.

– Having determined Charles Leclerc’s power unit problem in Bahrain was due to an unusual short-circuit in the injection control system, Ferrari arrived in China with new control electronics for both Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel, the first of two new examples permissible for the season. Ferrari-powered Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen did likewise.

– That wasn’t the end of the Ferrari reliability story, with Leclerc held to 13 laps after Ferrari decided to end his session early for precautionary checks of the car’s cooling. The Monegasque related that the oil system was the principal focus.

– Renault similarly arrived in China with power unit problems to rectify, handing Daniel Ricciardo, Nico Hulkenberg and McLaren’s Lando Norris their second of two new MGU-K problems in response to Ricciardo and Hulkenberg’s embarrassing synchronised retirements in Bahrain. It’s the same update already being run by Carlos Sainz after his Australian Grand Prix retirement, which Renault says was caused by the same problem.

– Nico Hulkenberg also took a new internal combustion engine, turbocharger and MGU-H.

Daniil Kvyat was held in his garage for the first part of FP2 with an unscheduled power unit change. Honda had seen some anomalous data on his in-lap in FP1 and decided to change it as a precaution.

– Romain Grosjean suffered a bizarre front wing failure in FP2 despite not appearing to make contact with anything that might have caused the damage. The right side of his front wing simply collapsed on its own early in the session.

– Sebastian Vettel was editorialising on the radio during second practice. His ire raised after coming across Sergio Perez on track, the German opined, “He can do what he wants; it’s just that they race harder on Friday than they do on Sunday”.

Max Verstappen encountered some gearbox issues late in the session, asking for “recommendations for the upshifts and downshifts”. His engineer replied, “Do you mean quality or the gear number?”, to which the Dutchman quipped, “Quality — I know I’ve got eight gears!”.

– In the FIA press conference Mattia Binotto reaffirmed his preseason proclamation that Sebastian Vettel would be the team’s de facto number one in 50-50 situations. The Italian added, however, that he had agreed with the drivers that “in a few races time things may chance for whatever reason”. He also emphasised that his drivers are free to fight on the track and that the faster driver on a given day would have the advantage.

– When asked about his boss’s comments, Leclerc reiterated that he understood the team’s decision but that, “I will make sure to change these things as quickly as possible”. Sebastian Vettel, dismissing the topic, replied, “This is generally a topic that is cooked much hotter than eaten”.

– Toto Wolff did little to dispel the perception that Racing Point would be aligning itself more closely with Mercedes in a potential Haas-esque partnership now that the Silverstone-based team would be using Mercedes’s Brackley wind tunnel, saying, “I don’t see what’s so bad in a Haas-Ferrari model”, though he added any Mercedes-Racing Point tie-up would naturally be different given both teams are very well established compared to Haas.

– Mario Isola said the gap between the soft (C2) and the medium (C3) is 1.1 seconds, while the gap between the medium and the hard (C4) is around 0.7 seconds. He expects the race will lean towards a two-stop due to the high degradation on the soft compound, which he believes will last less than 20 laps.

– Isola also explained that discussions and analyses on the introduction of a four-part qualifying format are ongoing, with Pirelli undertaking simulations that will form part of the decision-making. The Italian said there were several proposals being considered regarding what effect an additional qualifying session would have on tyre allocations, though a bespoke qualifying tyre isn’t one of them. If a final proposal is agreed, a vote will be taken on 30 April at the various levels of authority.

– Formula One honoured long-serving journalists Roger Benoit and Giorgio Piola, who have covered 739 and 811 races respectively, during a ceremony in which a giant 1000th world championship race commemorative coin was revealed. A special-edition 1000th race poster was also unveiled by F1, Pirelli and digital design company Automobilist.



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