Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber believes he can get a good result in this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. He likes the Shanghai International Circuit (he finished second there in 2009) and he knows he’ll be driving a competitive car.
“There’s no reason why the RB7 can’t be competitive at this race,” he says. “I’m not underestimating our rivals because McLaren in particular have done a phenomenal job to turn around the performance of their car. But we have a great car as well; it’s already won a couple of races this year and it’ll win some more.”
As is always the case with back-to-back races, the build-up to the race in Shanghai has been frenetic. The teams had only 36 hours to move 30 tonnes of freight from Kuala Lumpur to Shanghai and get set up in the paddock.
“It’s been very busy for the boys,” says Webber. “They’ve done a phenomenal job to get everything moved and set-up, but they’re pretty used to these back-to-back races now. I stayed in Malaysia until yesterday because the weather was fantastic and that allowed me to do lots of training and prepare for the weekend ahead.”
Once again, tyre degradation will be a major talking point in Shanghai. Pirelli are taking the same hard and soft compound tyres that were used in Australia and Malaysia, and we could see as many as three pitstops per car.
“I’m expecting tyre degradation to be somewhere between what we saw in Melbourne and Malaysia,” says Mark. “The track temperature isn’t going to be as high in China as it was in Malaysia, but there are more fast corners here than in Melbourne. Wear rates will be somewhere between the two tracks.”
Mark has contested every Chinese Grand Prix since the race’s inclusion on the calendar in 2004. However, this is the first time he’s stayed in a hotel near the track and it’s proving a revelation.
“Until now,” says Mark, “I’ve always stayed in the city. The hotels are nice but you have to do battle with the traffic and the journey can take 1.5 hours. A new hotel has been built near the track and it’s great. It ticks all the boxes and it’s only 10 minutes from the circuit.”
Mark will be hoping to tick a few other boxes this weekend as well.