Compared to the hot and steamy conditions of the previous Formula One race in Malaysia, where Ferrari managed to end Mercedes AMG’s winning streak, temperatures are significantly cooler at the Shanghai International Circuit, which is hosting the Chinese Grand Prix this weekend. The weather can be a bit unpredictable here, however, with the current forecast for Sunday’s race calling for a peak temperature of 70 degrees F (21 degrees C) and partly cloudy skies. The chance of rain is about 10 percent.
While the crew will appreciate the cooler temps, there are downsides. It is often a struggle to get the tires warmed up for qualifying, and the cooler conditions mean that graining can be an issue with the rubber, which accelerates both wear and degradation, especially at the front. For the race, Pirelli has nominated its medium and soft compounds, the same combination used for the last several races in China.
Practice today saw reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton setting the fastest times. He was followed by his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg and then it was the two Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen. Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo also showed some promise.
A bit of drama was had when Williams’ Felipe Massa scraped his wheel on a wall due to an issue with his car’s rear wing. Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat also suffered a crash, due to an apparent brake failure.
Going into tomorrow’s qualifying session and Sunday’s race, Hamilton remains on top of the 2015 Drivers’ Championship standings with 43 points, with Vettel in second just three points behind. Rosberg is currently third with 33 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Mercedes has a clear lead with 76 points, followed by Ferrari on 52 points and Williams on 30 points.