Explained: The ‘painted track’ theory at the F1 Chinese Grand Prix

F1 drivers thought the track at the Shanghai International Circuit had been painted

Shanghai International Circuit
Shanghai International Circuit

F1 drivers walked the track ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix and thought it had been painted.

There were no FIA notes in advance of this weekend’s race to suggest that the circuit had been resurfaced.

The odd colour of the asphalt in some places led drivers to believe paintwork had taken place.

“From the track side, it looks like they have repainted it, rather than resurfaced it,” Max Verstappen said.

"I don't know what that does to the grip of the track, so that's something we have to get on top of.”

Daniel Ricciardo noticed: "It looks like they've painted the track or something. They've done something to the surface.

"I don't know how the track's going to change, or if it's going to be the same or super slippery. But maybe that changes the way the tyres behave."

But, the track at the F1 Chinese Grand Prix has not been painted.

A bitumen surface treatment has been applied to the track - a common practice in the US and Asia.

Bitumen is applied to the track as a fluid, to get rid of dust, and prevent disintegration of the track.

The colouring on the track, mistaken for paint by F1 drivers, is actually just the bitumen wearing away in certain areas.

It was applied roughly a year ago.

That may lead to concern for F1 teams over grip levels.

If the bitumen does erode further as F1 running begins on Friday in Shanghai, the track could be left with varying levels of grip in various places.

The uncertainties around the bitumen on the track could also lead to some big decisions surrounding which tyres to use.

Ferrari profited from graining at the Australia Grand Prix, whereas Red Bull typically excel with tyre deg.

F1 has never tested its latest generation of cars at the Shanghai International Circuit.

And, the Chinese Grand Prix is the first sprint weekend of the 2024 F1 season.

It is the first round to feature the brand-new sprint format, too.

There will be one practice session on Friday before sprint qualifying.

The sprint race on Saturday is before qualifying for the grand prix.

The Chinese Grand Prix is on Sunday.

“The sprint weekend is always a question mark,” Verstappen said.

“There is always chaos involved which is good for Formula 1.

“From my side it is unknown. We haven’t driven here with these new parts.

“So I don’t know how we will perform here.”

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