Toyota - Ralf Schumacher (#11), Jarno Trulli (#12):

After failing to trouble the scorers on home soil last time out, Toyota gets an immediate chance to redress the balance after a short hop across the East China Sea.

Team news between races focused on the fact that Ralf Schumacher had been ruled out of contention for one of its seats in 2008, but the German will be back in harness alongside Jarno Trulli for this weekend's Chinese event, determined to raise his stock elsewhere with a strong end-of-season run.

"The Shanghai International Circuit is a fun place to race and I am looking forward to it," he said, "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 hope to get a good result. The result in Japan was very disappointing, especially as it was our home race, and the weather was terrible on Saturday and Sunday, but the conditions are the same for everyone. Let's hope we have better weather in Shanghai."

With little time to make alterations since the Japanese race, Toyota will run the same package as it did at Fuji, although the tyre compounds will change.

"We are hopeful, as always, of a strong result," senior general manager Pascal Vasselon revealed, "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."

"Shanghai is quite a unique circuit in terms of layout but, when it comes to most of the parameters on the car, such as brake wear, demands on the engine, it is on 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 that 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 through turn 13.
Red Bull Racing - David Coulthard (#14), Mark Webber (#15):

There were mixed emotions in the Red Bull Racing camp after the Japanese Grand Prix, with team boss Christian Horner admitting that David Coulthard's fourth place felt disappointing because of what had happened to Mark Webber, who had been in the running for a podium - and maybe even a win, according to the Aussie himself - before being taken out under the safety car.

"It was a good finish, but the race still left a bitter taste because of what might have been," agreed engine specialist Fabrice Lom, "Still, it is in the past now and what we need to remember is that our car-engine-driver package was performing very well. The target is to achieve the same thing at the next race in China.

"We worked on our preparations for the Chinese Grand Prix a few weeks ago in Jerez, especially in terms of the aero package. The car performed very well and we made good progress during what was a promising test. Hopefully, that will all come to fruition in Shanghai, and allow us to move ahead of Williams. We are feeling confident ahead of this race.

"The fact that the engines ran all weekend in wet conditions in Fuji should not prove to be a problem. We have good filtration of the water, the engines are in good condition and wet running is less demanding in terms of reliability. That means their second race weekend in Shanghai shouldn't be too difficult, especially because it is not generally a circuit we consider demanding for the V8. So we are going into the race in a calm frame of mind."
Williams - Nico Rosberg (#16), Alex Wurz (#17):

With more rain predicted for much of the coming weekend, the Chinese Grand Prix promises to be as thrilling as Japan and, with fourth place still up for grabs, the Williams team will be working towards a double point-scoring finish, something it has rarely achieved in 2007.

"After the result in Japan, we are looking to get back into the points at the Chinese Grand Prix and strengthen our position in the constructors' championship," technical director Sam Michael confirmed, having seen Alex Wurz crash out at the 'start' in Fuji and Nico Rosberg succumb to mechanical gremlins, "China normally demands a two-stop race strategy, but there were quite variable weather conditions last season and, according to the most recent forecasts, that may again be the case at this year's race - which will certainly make things interesting!"

Rosberg's retirement brought to an end a run of scoring finishes stretching back into the summer, but the German remains optimistic that he can get back into the top eight this weekend.

"Shanghai is a very good track and it should suit our car quite well," he opined, "I hope we can continue the form that we've demonstrated in the last few races because it's now really important that we keep Red Bull Racing behind us in the constructors' championship."

Wurz, meanwhile, continues to fight for his place on the front line of Formula One, with a host of young replacements - and not so young if rumours surrounding Giancarlo Fisichella are to be believed - being tipped to replace him. The Austrian is not thinking about that, however, and relishing a return to China this weekend.

"I remember the Shanghai track very well from last year, when I had an awesome time as Williams' Friday driver, posting the quickest times during both practice sessions," he recalled, "The layout of the track should suit our car and my driving style, so I'm going there with high hopes for a good result for the penultimate grand prix of the season. Just talking about it makes me want to be there driving it already!"

Scuderia Toro Rosso - Vitantonio Liuzzi (#18), Sebastian Vettel (#19):

If ever a team was left to wonder what might have been, then Toro Rosso could well be that team following a Japanese Grand Prix that promised much but ultimately delivered little - or at least has done for the moment.

Sebastien Vettel produced a drive that belied his lack of experience at Fuji to climb into a podium position but what happened next will have hurt him more than most as his chance of the first top three finish in the team's short history after his coming together with Red Bull stable-mate Mark Webber put both out of the race. While the conditions played a part in the rookie climbing so high, his performance will have been a boost to the whole team as it seeks to pick up its first point of the season - with everyone else having now managed to get off the mark, the exception being McLaren after they were stripped of all their points due to the F1 spying row.

Of course, Toro Rosso did score for a few hours in Japan after team-mate Tonio Liuzzi climbed into the top ten for the first time this season in eighth place. However the Italian was then give a time penalty for passing Adrian Sutil under yellow flags - promoting the Spyker man into the points. With the point being enough to move Spyker ahead of Toro Rosso in the constructors' championship, the Italian team has appealed against the decision.

Liuzzi ran well in China last season as he qualified in 13th place and came home tenth. He will now aim to improve on that this time around to help Toro Rosso get off the mark for a second time as the battle towards the bottom of the championship standings intensifies.
Spyker F1 - Sakon Yamamoto (#20), Adrian Sutil (#21):

Fresh from scoring its first-ever world championship point in last weekend's Japanese Grand Prix - albeit one still under the threat of appeal from Toro Rosso - Spyker moves to Shanghai confident that, after a strong all-round performance at Fuji, it can add to its tally at Shanghai International.

Adrian Sutil drove a storming race in the rain last weekend, underlining his reputation as a bad weather specialist by scything up the field from 20th on the grid to ninth at the chequered flag before being promoted to eighth by the stewards.

"It was very important for our team, and I have to say we deserved it," Sutil said of the result, "We already got a lot of motivation after Spa, and now we have been successful here and got our first point.

"The conditions were very special, so I think even to finish the race was a very successful result. This was the main thing, don't make mistakes, go through to the end, and then we'll see what's going on. But we also had some times where we were very competitive. I passed at least four cars in braking for turn one, and braked maybe 100 metres later than everybody, but I was fighting, and always the first three laps after the restart our set-up was very strong. To get a point was the best feeling and I now really want to get going in China and get some more!"

"Our aim was to finish in the top ten [of the constructors' championship], so to be ninth is beyond our expectations," team MD Colin Kolles added, "Financially, it will be very important but, for the motivation of all the team members, it is a real boost. Of course, now we have got it, we will still want more! We've been quicker than the Hondas in the past two races and they have two points, so this is now our target.

"A lot of people thought, after the mid-point of the season, that Adrian was quick, but I believe they also thought he was a little too 'enthusiastic'. We always knew that taking a rookie driver on will have these risks, but also knew that he had the potential to be very, very good. In Turkey, he kept calm when he was being put under pressure by the Hondas; in Belgium, he showed he could be patient and attack only when the time was right, and now, in Japan, in difficult conditions, he kept it on track and got past a lot of experienced drivers. I think this shows clearly how far he has come and how much he has matured."

Sakon Yamamoto also put in a strong performance in the exceptionally difficult conditions, finishing twelfth for his best-ever finish in F1, boosting his confidence for the final two races at circuits he is familiar with.

"It was a very tough race for me, but I was really pleased to get the best finish of my career," he said, "It was a really amazing feeling, and the reaction from the fans was very good too. I am very happy with the team and the new B-spec car, which is much improved over the A-spec. Every time we go to a new circuit, we see an improvement and I can't wait to drive the car again in China. Now we have got 12th place in the last race I want to do even better and get a higher finish in the last two races."

Despite the celebrations, the team can still improve, according to chief technical officer Mike Gascoyne.

"It's very satisfying and it really exceeds our expectations as a team. We've introduced a new car, we have a 100% finishing record with it and have raced other teams with a much higher budget than ours," he said, "To score a point is all we could have asked for and it's a just reward for all the team. Just because we are at the back of the grid, we don't work any less than the teams at the top, so I am very pleased we have got this point and am very proud of everyone involved.

"However, Saturday was disappointing as we didn't show what we were capable of in the wet. In the race, we were much more competitive, and we were more competitive on Friday in the dry. We've now had two cracking races with the B-spec car, and six finishes out of six with it as well, so the team is doing a good job. Teams with far more resources than us have not been as successful or seen such a step forward with the new mods they have introduced, so this result in Japan is very good for the team."

Super Aguri F1 - Takuma Sato (#22), Anthony Davidson (#23):

The home race for the small Japanese team didn't go to plan and neither Takuma Sato or Anthony Davidson was able to secure any points as Formula 1 returned to Fuji. A throttle sensor failure was enough to remove Davidson from the action while Sato was involved in numerous incidents - including a fire in the pit lane - before his car cried enough and he was forced to park up just two laps from the finish.

Although classified in 15th place, the race would be tough for Sato who had hoped to make the most of the support of a partisan crowd to take his third points finish of the season. He will now aim to strengthen Super Aguri's championship position this weekend instead.

"It was so sad that I couldn't take up a great opportunity in the wet race, especially in front of my home crowd," he said. "I really hope we can have a positive weekend in China but I want to say a big thank you to the fans at Fuji. They came in the early morning, got completely soaked but it was still amazing support."

For Davidson, the Fuji result came after he has battled hard to stay out of trouble but he will now hope to make amends and turn his fortunes around in China as he seeks to try and break in to the top ten - and the points - for the first time.

"I was pleased to make it through without any mistakes, but unfortunately at the end I retired due to a throttle sensor failure, which put me out of the race," he said post-Japan. "It is disappointing after doing a good solid job, but I am looking forward to China where we can hopefully rectify the situation."

TYRES:

Formula One makes its fourth visit to Shanghai International Circuit this weekend, and the 5.45km layout, complete with its diverse mix of corners and long straights will test Bridgestone's hard and medium compound Potenza tyres to the full - whatever the weather.

The configuration means that a compromise aero set-up is required, with sufficient downforce for the turns, but not too much to compromise speed down the straights, with heavy braking, extreme lateral loads and high demands on traction to take into account as well. Finding the correct balance between grip and wear will be crucial for a winning performance, with turns two and seven likely to induce tyre graining, whilst the high lateral G-force generated through the sequence of turns seven and eight will place strong demands on the tyres' construction and heat durability.

Bridgestone tyres have won two of the three previous Chinese grands prix, including last season, when Michael Schumacher scored his 91st and final victory. A two-stop pit strategy has been the favoured option in the past, as running with a heavy car required for a one-stop strategy is likely to be very detrimental to lap times and cause heavier wear to the tyres.

"Shanghai International Circuit is very severe on tyres and that is why we are bringing the two hardest compounds from our range," director of motorsport tyre development Hirohide Hamashima, "There are very high lateral forces acting on the tyres and we expect to see graining on the front left tyres, especially caused by the increasing radius turn two and the banked turn thirteen. We could also see graining on the rear tyres here too.

"The circuit layout means that a medium downforce set-up will be used, as there are two long straights, but a large percentage of the track is also very twisty and technical. For the teams and drivers, finding the correct set-up to make the best use of their tyres will be a big challenge."

THE TRACK:
Race Distance: 56 laps - Circuit Length: 3.387 miles (5.451 kms)

The Chinese Grand Prix made its debut on the Formula One calendar in 2004 to universal acclaim for its hugely impressive facilities. Designed by Hermann Tilke, the Shanghai International Circuit is built on three square kilometres of reclaimed marshland, and can seat up to 200,000 people.

The 5.451 km track is shaped like the Chinese character 'shang', meaning for 'high' or 'above'. It comprises seven left and seven right turns with several overtaking opportunities, in particular at the multi-apex turn one and again at turn 14 at the end of the back straight.

Average speeds are approximately 200kph, with the cars reaching their maximum speeds down the longest straight in Formula One, which stretches for over a kilometre in length between turns 13 and 14.
THE WINNER?

As has been the case for much of the season, it is hard to look beyond the four main players for this weekend's winner. While Felipe Massa's hopes of success may be compromised by the fact that Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen remains in mathematical title contention, the two McLaren drivers appear set to slug it out. Fernando Alonso has more to lose in the event of a mistake, but also needs to beat team-mate Lewis Hamilton by at least two points. That effectively means that the Spaniard needs to win the race or, if Ferrari is - as expected - the better team in Shanghai, ensure that he finishes second to Raikkonen or Massa. Anything less than that and the world champion faces losing his crown one race before the end of the year.
LAST SEASON:

After two races without so much as a sniff of the points at the Shanghai International Circuit, Michael Schumacher finally found the fortune he was looking for as he won a race that really should have belonged to Renault.

Having been restricted to the outside of row three when rain in qualifying played into the hands of his Michelin-shod opponents, the German was able to turn the tables on race day, taking advantage of tyre-related dramas for main title rival Fernando Alonso to draw level at the head of the standings.

Alonso, aggrieved at the treatment he felt he was receiving from his team (sound familiar?) finished second, with Renault team-mate Giancarlo Fisichella dutifully completing podium. A good afternoon for Honda again reflected Jenson Button's wet weather ability, the Briton fending off the best of the McLarens, driven by Pedro de la Rosa, for fourth, while there were points for team-mate Rubens Barrichello, BMW Sauber's Nick Heidfeld and Williams' Mark Webber.

1. Michael Schumacher Germany Ferrari-Ferrari 56 01:37:32.747
2. Fernando Alonso Spain Renault-Renault +3.1
3. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Renault-Renault +44.1
4. Jenson Button Britain Honda-Honda +72.0
5. Pedro de la Rosa Spain McLaren-Mercedes +77.1
6. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda-Honda +79.1
7. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW Sauber +91.9
8. Mark Webber Australia Williams-Cosworth +103.5

 

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