Toyota are bidding to put the memory of a desperately disappointing home race at Fuji behind them by bouncing back in China this weekend, at a track where the departing Ralf Schumacher registered a podium finish for the Japanese manufacturer back in 2005.

Though last year both Schumacher and team-mate Jarno Trulli struggled to make much impression in Shanghai, the team heads across the East China Sea with high hopes of a strong result in the penultimate round of the 2007 Formula 1 World Championship.

"The Shanghai International Circuit is a really impressive facility," enthused Schumacher, who yesterday confirmed the long-anticipated news that he will be leaving Toyota at the end of the current campaign. "For the team, the garages and offices are as good as anywhere, and for the drivers the circuit itself is a real challenge. It has some technically demanding corners, particularly turn one which tightens and just seems to keep on going! It is important not to make a mistake here.

"It's a fun place to race and I am looking forward to it. We have not had much chance of a rest between the Japanese and Chinese Grands Prix, but I am still looking forward to this race and I hope to get a good result. The result in Japan was very disappointing, especially as it was our home race. The weather was terrible on Saturday and Sunday but the conditions were the same for everyone. Let's hope we have better weather in Shanghai."

Trulli, for his part, has yet to trouble the scorers in Shanghai, with only a 15th-place finish and a DNF to his name in the Chinese capital. The Italian has out-qualified Schumacher 13-2 over the course of the season so far, however, and out-scored the German seven points to five, and he echoed his team-mate's enthusiasm for the far eastern track.

"It's good to be going back to China again," the 33-year-old underlined, "to one of the best circuits we visit in terms of the facilities. The track itself is also quite special because there are corners which you just don't find anywhere else, like turn one. It is a challenge to find the best set-up for Shanghai because of the mixture of slow twists and long straights.

"Even though there are two quite long straights it is still quite hard to overtake here, with the one main opportunity coming at the end of the back straight. We are nearly at the end of the season and we have just had a frustrating weekend in Japan. It has been a difficult season but I would like to end it with good results, and I believe we have the potential to do that in China."

With two races left to run, sixth-placed Toyota lie eleven points adrift of Red Bull Racing in the constructors' title chase, and though that is a significant margin to make up in what remains of the 2007 campaign, the squad is adamant it will fight on until the end.

"Shanghai is quite a unique circuit in terms of lay-out," explained senior general chassis manager Pascal Vasselon, "but when it comes to most of the parameters on the car such as brake wear and demands on the engine, it is average. There are two long straights at Shanghai but you find an interesting situation because of turn 13, which is a very long right-hander. It is so important that, even with the long straights, you find using relatively high downforce is best for lap times.

"The one overtaking opportunity is at the end of the back straight, but even this is quite difficult because you have to follow the car in front through turn 13. We are hopeful as always of a strong result. We will use the same specification of car as we did at Fuji Speedway because of the short time between the two races. The conditions in Japan made it hard to evaluate our Fuji package, but we know from testing that it has brought a step forward so we hope to show that in China."

 

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