Ahead of Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix, there is a lot to look forward to as Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari aim to make it two wins out of 2017, and Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes-GP prepare a response. Graham Caygill takes us through what we need to keep an eye on.
Mercedes aim to strike back
Mercedes-GP driver Lewis Hamilton. Mark Thompson / Getty Images
You have to go back to the Hungarian and Belgian Grand Prix events in 2014 for the last time that Mercedes failed to win two races in a row. The German marque were beaten fair and square by Ferrari and Vettel in Australia two weeks ago, and with the Shanghai International Circuit traditionally generating high tyre wear, this could be another tough weekend for them given it was Hamilton’s inability to preserve his Pirellis as well as Vettel that ultimately proved decisive in Melbourne.
Red Bull aim to close in
Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen. Mark Thompson / Getty Images
Red Bull Racing were best of the rest in Australia behind Mercedes and Ferrari, but Max Verstappen was a distant fifth, while mechanical problems ruined Daniel Ricciardo’s race. Shanghai will be a better gauge of where Red Bull are on raw speed, and Verstappen and Ricciardo will be pushing harder for a podium spot than they were able to do last month.
McLaren driver Fernando Alonso. Diego Azubel / EPA
After an awful 2015, McLaren and Honda had signs of improvement last year. But they appear to have regressed badly at the start of 2017. The team struggled in testing with reliability and lack of horse power from their Japanese engine. They were poor in Australia but it could be even worse in China, with the long back straight set to highlight just how slow the Honda is. It is going to be a rough weekend for Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne.
Pressure on Palmer
Renault driver Jolyon Palmer. Lynn Bo / EPA
A lot of the teams and drivers had tough weekends in Australia, but none was worse than that of Jolyon Palmer. The Renault driver crashed in practice and then was 2.8 seconds slower than teammate Nico Hulkenberg in qualifying, a gigantic gap by F1 standards. The Briton, who blamed handling issues with the car for his poor performance, will need a strong showing at Shanghai this weekend to demonstrate that he can be competitive, at least compared to his teammate.
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