Heikki Kovalainen: “Next up it’s another couple of back to back races, this time China and Bahrain. We’ll look at Bahrain next week so for now the focus is on China. I’ve been in Abu Dhabi since leaving Malaysia, staying with my girlfriend Catherine’s parents so I can keep up the training regime and avoid the full jetlag that can kick in when you return to Europe. I’m feeling really good, back to 100% after the bug I had in Malaysia and I just want to get back out on track. When we do get back out it will be in Shanghai at one of the pretty standard modern tracks. It’s a mix of low and medium speed corners, a very long straight with a tight corner at the end that provides a natural point to overtake, and a couple of tight fiddly bits you never quite feel like you get completely right. It’s not too hard on the brakes but you need to get the car stable under braking so you can really attack into each braking zone, and you need good traction out of the slower corners to be able to pressure the cars ahead around the whole lap. The key bit is probably into T11, 12 and 13 – making sure you get the braking into T11 right so you can carrry as much speed as possible through 12 and 13 and out onto the straight. Get that right and you give yourself a chance to fight at the end of the straight.”
Vitaly Petrov: “As soon as the Malaysian race was over I headed back to Russia for a few days at home before we get going again in China. I’ve been doing a bit of training, catching up with friends and family and I hooked up with Andrei Arshavin to help launch the new Nike Mercurial Vapour VIII football boots. I’m a big football fan and it’s always good seeing Andrei. He’s obviously having a pretty interesting season with Arsenal and I know he and the whole Russian team are looking forward to Euro 2012 in June. I’ll have to make sure I can fit in watching a few games while we’re at races – I’m in Canada for Russia’s opening game so I’ll have a word with the IT guys to see if they can help me watch it! Next up though it’s China. I’ve been in the points for the last two years in Shanghai and while it would obviously be great to repeat that in 2012 with Caterham I suspect it might be a bit too early in the season for us to get a point in China. It’s not a particularly hard circuit to drive, it’s not too technical but you have to make sure you get it right through the tight section from turns 1 to 4, and the same from 11 to 13 as you head onto the straight. You can make up or lose quite a bit of time in both those sequences and that means setting up the cars to have the right balance between the high speed run down to T14, meaning less drag, and the slower turns in sectors one and three, both of which need much more downforce.”
Mark Smith, Technical Director: “As we head to Shanghai for the third race of 2012 we know that we still have some margin to work on to extract the best from the car and the tyres in both qualifying and the race itself. We have been looking at this in detail since returning from Malaysia and have a number of plans in place to help us move forwards as soon as we get on track in Shanghai. The ambient temperatures in China are always much lower than the last race in Malaysia, although it would not be a surprise to see rain at some stage over the course of the weekend. The layout of the circuit itself makes overtaking quite tricky so it will be interesting to see how much KERS helps us, now we have it here for the frist time, along with DRS this year. The track surface is relatively smooth and the kerbs are generally not an issue in China, so we will take these factors into account when we plan the optimum setups for the weekend. We still have yet to run a dry race in 2012 on a full grand prix circuit which means that we have a limited amount of tyre information for the Chinese GP weekend. That puts a premium on the importance of running tyre programmes in FP1 and FP2 and gives the engineers a lot of work to do on Friday night. Externally, we will be running the cars in high downforce configurations and we have bodywork updates targeted at increased load and more efficient cooling, given the lower ambient temperatures we will to see in Shanghai. China is not especially tough on brakes but we also have a couple of updates in this area.”
Tony Fernandes, Team Principal: “While the race team has had a very well deserved couple of weeks off since the end of the Malaysian race, the work rate in the factory has intensified as we keep up the development fight off track. This time last year we wanted to bring updates to each race, but we were not in a financial or logistical position to do so. This year we can do just that, and that is another sign that we are going in the right direction. Before the Australian and Malaysian races we had a pretty clear idea of where we would be relative to the other teams around us, and the performances we saw confirmed what we need to do to keep bridging the gap to the cars ahead. Over the race weekends we need to look at improving our qualifying pace, and it looks like we can work more efficiently on maximising tyre performance levels over the whole weekend. Back at the factory the main focus for us is on improving the aero performance of the cars. This is what will give us the chance to fight for the point we want to win, and the fact we can now head into the next two flyaway races with the sort of upgrades we could only dream of last year is a very encouraging sign, and one that shows how hard the whole team is working to help us achieve our goals.”
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