Mercedes hope the Chinese Grand Prix will show Ferrari’s victory with Sebastian Vettel in Malaysia was a blip – Shanghai has been good to the team in the past.
Shanghai (dpa) – Mercedes return to a favourite track as they seek to rebound from their shock defeat to Ferrari at the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang.
Cooler conditions and the set-up of the Shanghai International Circuit should see the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg again battling for supremacy at Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix.
Hamilton, a three-time Chinese GP winner, took the chequered flag ahead of Rosberg in a Mercedes one-two last season, while it was Rosberg who in 2012 delivered the first pole and victory for the Silver Arrows as a worlks team.
“The circuit itself is a different challenge to Albert Park (in Melbourne) and Sepang – but it’s one I really enjoy and it suits my driving style quite well,” Hamilton said.
“I won the race last year and have only finished outside of the podium places twice, so the target is definitely to build on that and get back to the front.”
China has been “a good hunting ground for the team,” Mercedes motorsports chief Toto Wolff said.
“We have the weapons at our disposal – and we need to make the most of them this weekend,” he said.
Mercedes have to recover from their surprise defeat to Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, ahead of Hamilton and Rosberg, at the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Mercedes put that defeat partly down to “tyre management” problems on an especially hot surface in Sepang but insist they are not being complacent and that Ferrari are set to be a serious competitor this season.
Rosberg, beaten to the championship last season, needs some improved form after being shaded so far in racing and also largely in practice and qualifying by his teammate.
“It’s not been a perfect start to my sixth year with the team and I’m determined to turn that around this weekend,” he said.
“Of course, my teammate will have other ideas – and so will my (German) compatriot (Vettel) in the red car, I’m sure. But this is a track that has always suited me well, so I’m aiming to put in a strong weekend.”
Four-time world champion Vettel meanwhile played down the victory in Malaysia, but hopes he and Ferrari teammate Kimi Raikkonen can keep Mercedes within their sights.
“Ideally we want to establish ourselves throughout the season as the team behind Mercedes,” he said Thursday,
“At the beginning of the season there can be a lot of highs and lows. We want to make sure that we have rather a lot of highs and not so many lows.”
Other teams also fancy improved chances on the technical Shanghai track, including Williams, who finished fifth (Valtteri Bottas) and sixth (Felipa Massa) in Malaysia.
Renault have also said they will be more aggressive with their engine settings this weekend, which could boost Red Bull and Toro Rosso.
“We hope we can fight the Williams and grab some more points in China,” Renault director of operations Remi Taffin said.
The French engine manufacturer had been forced to adopt more conservative settings in Australia and Malaysia due to reliability concerns.
Practice sessions are Friday, with qualifying on Saturday for Sunday’s race.