After a frantic Bahrain Grand Prix, Formula 1 heads straight to the Shanghai International Circuit for the Chinese Grand Prix with key moments aplenty both on the off track.

Mercedes will be eager to halt a Ferrari hat-trick at the start of the 2018 F1 season after Sebastian Vettel clinched back-to-back wins to take an early lead in the drivers’ championship.

The Chinese GP circuit in Shanghai, set to celebrate its 15th edition this weekend, shares characteristics with the Bahrain track with its long straights and heavy braking zones so fears on overtaking should relent but the colder conditions in the Chinese city compared to the Middle Eastern desert could provide plenty of variables.

Five things to look out for in Shanghai

Will Mercedes regain control at a favoured circuit?

After suffering consecutive losses to Ferrari at the start of the 2018 F1 season, Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has called for a flawless race weekend from the German manufacturer having admitted he fears another mistake could play a pivotal role in the world title fight.

Mercedes heads to friendly territory in China having won every race in the V6 hybrid era at the Shanghai circuit plus a record of five wins in the past six years.

The colder conditions for the race weekend are also expected to aid the Mercedes W09 performance after its frailties with the Pirelli rubber in the heat were exposed in Bahrain. But having seen a more resilient Ferrari this year, plus the heightened threat of Red Bull, Mercedes may see its domination seriously challenged this weekend.

Red Bull’s retaliation

Speaking of the Red Bulls, Bahrain "ripped the heart out" of Daniel Ricciardo seeing both he and teammate Max Verstappen retire from the race inside the opening five laps when the team had been tipped to challenge for victory, in some quarters made favourites for the win.

Reliability woes and racing incidents aside, Red Bull will know it can’t afford to lose any more ground on Ferrari and Mercedes if it wants to be considered title contenders in 2018. Reliability problems saw the team’s championship challenge falter before it even began 12 months and more poor results in China could see history repeating itself.

Pit stop problems

Two races in to 2018 and three high-profile pit stop mistakes grabbed the headlines in F1’s ultimate battle to find those extra tenths of a second. The cross-threaded wheel nuts Haas suffered in Australia look to have been resolved after a problem-free race weekend in Bahrain but the disaster shifted to Ferrari and Kimi Raikkonen.

After an incorrect wheel mounting in FP2, handing Ferrari a fine, a second nightmare pit stop was to strike during the race in Bahrain for Raikkonen when he was released too soon from his stop and hit a mechanic who suffered a nasty broken leg.

The spate of headline-grabbing incidents have triggered calls for safety reviews into how teams perform pit stops.

Honda’s heroics

After its eye-catching pre-season testing on debut with Toro Rosso, Honda faltered at the first race when Pierre Gasly suffered an MGU-H failure in Australia.

Fast forward two weeks and the same driver was celebrating Toro Rosso’s joint-second best result in its F1 history while Honda notched up its best finish in the sport in over a decade. Gasly’s fourth place impressed the entire F1 paddock by the nature of the performance as there was no major fluke or significant luck (minus the exit of both Red Bulls and Ferrari’s Raikkonen) to the Toro Rosso Honda’s finishing position as it was solely down to performance and speed.

The focus will now be backing up its landmark moment with consistency to add weight to the new threat Toro Rosso Honda carries on the F1 grid.

Liberty’s Liberation

F1’s future plans were outlined by Liberty Media in Bahrain and despite the devil in the detail remaining hidden, the US owner’s next job will be to get the teams and other key stakeholders on board.

With plenty of teams eager for quick deadlines, with Red Bull boss Christian Horner asking for 2021 engine rules to be nailed down as early as this May, time will be in short supply with China marking the first step on the path to the new era of the sport.

Where can I watch it? (All times stated BST)

The 2018 Chinese Grand Prix is being shown LIVE on Sky Sports F1 with HIGHLIGHTS on Channel 4 (UK only).

Friday April 13:

LIVE Sky Sports F1 Chinese GP FP1 – 02:45

LIVE Sky Sports F1 Chinese GP FP2 – 06:45

Saturday April 14:

LIVE Sky Sports F1 Chinese GP FP3 – 03:45

LIVE Sky Sports F1 Chinese GP Qualifying – 06:00

HIGHLIGHTS Channel 4 Chinese GP Qualifying – 13:00

Sunday April 15:

LIVE Sky Sports F1 Chinese GP Track Parade – 05:30

LIVE Sky Sports F1 Chinese GP Race – 07:10

HIGHLIGHTS Channel 4 Chinese GP Race – 14:00


ALL F1 races, qualifying and practice sessions will be shown LIVE on Sky Sports F1 in the UK, with Channel 4 dual-broadcasting a selection of races LIVE on terrestrial television.

25 March Australian Grand Prix

8 April Bahrain Grand Prix

15 April Chinese Grand Prix

29 April Azerbaijan Grand Prix

13 May Spanish Grand Prix

27 May Monaco Grand Prix

10 June Canadian Grand Prix

24 June French Grand Prix

1 July Austrian Grand Prix

8 July British Grand Prix

22 July German Grand Prix

29 July Hungarian Grand Prix

26 August Belgian Grand Prix 

2 September Italian Grand Prix

16 September Singapore Grand Prix

30 September Russian Grand Prix 

7 October Japanese Grand Prix

21 October United States Grand Prix

28 October Mexican Grand Prix

11 November Brazilian Grand Prix

25 November Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Recent Bahrain GP race winners:

2017: Lewis Hamilton Mercedes

2016: Nico Rosberg Mercedes

2015: Lewis Hamilton Mercedes

2014: Lewis Hamilton Mercedes

2013: Fernando Alonso Ferrari


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