Carlos Sainz at the wheel of his Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12, 2017 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix.

A Short Show in Shanghai

April 10, 2017

There are some people who believe a Formula 1 weekend should be condensed into two days of track action instead of the current three and that's effectively what happened to this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix, when poor visibility on the Friday meant the medical helicopter was unable to fly. The huge Shanghai International Circuit looked more like a Milan airport in foggy November.

Therefore, apart from a handful of installation laps in the wet morning session, none of the 20 drivers left the garage that day: "I'd like to thank all the engineers and mechanics, they were extremely busy today...!" joked Daniil at the end of the day.

Sometimes, the Saturday morning session can involve cars sitting in the garage for a short while, but this weekend, the job list was inevitably very long for the final hour of free practice: fuel runs, tyre evaluation, wing levels, mechanical set-up, everything crammed into 60 minutes. The two drivers and their engineers worked very hard and the work bore fruit in qualifying, when Daniil – let's not forget he likes this track, having finished third on the podium here last year for Red Bull Racing – made it into Q3 and secured ninth spot on the grid. Carlos was still upbeat about just missing the cut into the top ten shoot-out when he posted a time good enough for eleventh. In the case of a dry race, it meant he had a free choice of tyres, whereas the top ten would have to run with their tyres from Q2.



Away from the track, the Chinese fans continue to show great ingenuity and determination in meeting their favourite drivers, even to the extent of finding which hotel they are staying in and waiting for them to leave in the morning and arrive in the evening. They are really knowledgeable, even knowing who each driver's trainer is, so that Daniil's fitness guru, Pyry, was surprised to be presented with a pillow that featured a cartoon of a "muscle man" with a photo of his face and some very red cheeks, on top of the body!

Carlos was given two toy bears for some obscure reason and he hung them on the TV in our team hospitality. Needless to say, the pair of them watched every second of Carlos' great race. These bears might have to become this season's good luck charm. After the sun made a brief appearance on Saturday, the temperature on race day never got above 12 degrees and the track was damp for the start. That meant tyre choice wasn't really an issue as almost everyone opted for the Intermediate rain tyre.

But Carlos' prediction from the previous day did come true in a way and his great drive from 11th to 7th was built on his and his engineer's very brave decision to start the race on slick Supersofts! He was the only one of 20 drivers to roar off the line on slick tyres. "I'll never forget your face Franz, when I told you I was doing that," he said to our Team Principal over the radio after the chequered flag, laughing from the cockpit. Apart from the result – with the points from the Spaniard's seventh place seeing us lie fourth in the championship – it was the pace of both our cars over the weekend that was really encouraging. Daniil had a more difficult afternoon and in the end had to retire with an hydraulic failure, but our overall package looked good over the two days of track action.

Daniil is probably keener than most therefore to get back behind the wheel in Bahrain in a few days and now begins the usual back-to-back race to get everything set-up for the next round of the championship, with track action starting on Friday. Apparently, it was 38 degrees in Bahrain while we were shivering in Shanghai, so that will make for energy-sapping working conditions as the team now flies off to the Middle East. The freight carrying its precious cargo of our STR12s and all our equipment starts to arrive at the Sakhir circuit on Tuesday, when the team will begin preparations in the afternoon. More equipment will be trucked in the following day and the entire squad will be in race mode from then onwards.