Throughout the 2016 Chinese Grand Prix weekend, the front wing end plates of both Mercedes-Benz F1 W07 Hybrid Formula One cars will carry special branding to celebrate a shared passion for innovation between China and Official Team Partner Qualcomm.
The Chinese characters translate directly as “Enjoy the Future Now” – illustrating the ambition of both China and Qualcomm to bring the future forward faster as essential accelerators of progress, unlocking what’s next for the entire mobile tech industry.
To find our more about the Qualcomm Mercedes Partnership click here.
Mercedes AMG Petronas Drivers and Management preview the Chinese Grand Prix
It’s not been a smooth start to the season for me, so to be in the Championship position I’m in right now is actually pretty positive. If you can have two bad races and still come away with two podiums, that bodes pretty well. I’ve come back from worse, that’s for sure! People keep asking me if I’m worried – if there’s a downward trend emerging. But I’m feeling the complete opposite. There are no real flaws in our procedure and how we’re working, so I know it’s going to come good. On a personal level too, I’m in the best place I’ve ever been psychologically. There’s very little, if anything at all, that can penetrate that. There’s a long, long way to go, so I’ll just keep working as hard as I have been. Now we go to China for the next battle. It’s a track that’s been good to me over the years, with five poles and four wins, so hopefully this race can be the turning point.
It’s great to start the season in such a positive way. But I’m just taking things step by step, race by race and targeting a lot more wins to come. It’s important to enjoy times like these. I feel very privileged to drive the best car on the grid for the third year in a row and I intend to make the most of it. I’m going to China now knowing I can fight for the win, which is a great feeling to have. It’s especially good in this instance too, as Shanghai is a track with good memories for me. I took my first pole and win there back in 2012, so I head into this weekend on a massive high. I’m looking forward to the next battle. We haven’t seen the real Ferrari yet, so it could be a very exciting season ahead.
Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
After two races, we find ourselves in a strong position. Our car has proven itself to be competitive in a range of conditions once again – but also reliable even at this early stage, which is a tremendous achievement. But there is a long way to go and we have by no means been flawless in every area so far. With Ferrari increasingly breathing down our necks, as we saw in Bahrain, there is zero room for error. Remaining energised is now more important than ever – and we all have plenty to keep us on our toes in that respect. With just two races down and nineteen to go, I wouldn’t say there is momentum on one side or the other. But what is clear – and very exciting for the team and the sport – is that we have two drivers high in confidence who will provide us with plenty of entertainment over the coming months.
Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
The Shanghai circuit places an entirely different duty on tyres relative to Melbourne and Bahrain. However, we have the same three compounds available, so it will be interesting to see how the competitive order plays out. It’s the first time we’ll see the SuperSoft compound used at this track, thanks to the new regulations, and that will likely create a more extreme example of what we saw in Bahrain, where the best qualifying tyre is unlikely to be a great race tyre. Every team is bound to want to qualify on the SuperSoft – but if it grains in the race, we could see cars stopping in the first five laps. There will be plenty of analysis to do on Friday and we could see some interesting calls on qualifying and race strategy. What makes this all the more difficult for the teams is the unpredictability of the conditions. It can be quite warm in Shanghai – but it can also be as cool as Belgium. That variability can make life tricky in terms of both setup and strategy work, so it’s always a challenging weekend. We like going to Shanghai, however. It’s an interesting city and traditionally one of our stronger circuits, with four poles and three wins from the last four races. We look forward to another good battle between our drivers and with Ferrari once again.
Guenther Steiner, Haas F1 Team, Team Principle review the team’s first two races in Formula One and discusses how the team will approach the Chinese Grand Prix.
Two grand prix for Haas F1 Team, two very strong races for Haas F1 Team. Did you think this kind of success would be possible this soon?
“No, not realistically. We always said we would like to score points and make a difference. We wanted to be midfield, but to finish sixth and fifth in our first two races was, for sure, not in the plan. But, we take it and we are very happy about it.”
During each grand prix race weekend, you learn more about the car. But what are you learning about tire strategy and how the different tire compounds affect the car in different ways?
“It’s always grand prix-specific. You go out and test on Friday and Saturday and you learn tire degradation, mainly, and grip levels. I think in Australia we used the data we gained in Barcelona because we didn’t run a lot in Australia due to the weather. Every race is different and every track is different. Each tire reacts differently with the track and we always try to learn as much as possible during the race weekend. But again, we have to choose the tires before the race weekend. Our team has made good decisions and picked the right tires, for the right time, for each race weekend.”
With the qualifying format used in Australia and Bahrain, how advantageous was it to make it to Q2 but not Q3?
“In Australia, we were far from making Q2 because we had some issues in Q1. In Bahrain, we were very happy not to be in Q3 because it allowed us to start the race on a brand new set of tires. With brand new tires, you see a lot more grip on the start. Both drivers took that to their advantage and had very good starts.”
For the first time in Haas F1 Team’s young history, both drivers advanced to the second round of qualifying. How important was that for the team?
“Advancing to Q2 really helped our confidence. We wanted to show that in Australia and couldn’t, but we did in Bahrain and this is what we will try to achieve every race weekend.”
Haas F1 Team has begun its debut season by surpassing expectations. But how hard is it to stay ahead of the curve in Formula One, as everyone is constantly developing their car?
“It is very difficult, but we will continue to develop. We’ll continue to test in the wind tunnel and bring new developments to our car, and that will lead to gains in our aerodynamic program throughout the season. I think we’ll bring new developments like the rest of the midfield packs are doing, or aiming to do.”
Bahrain saw the team’s first live pit stops. How were they, and how does it feel to finally have performed live pit stops?
“I would say two out of the three pit stops were good. We still can improve, but we were in the ballpark. In the third one we had an issue with one of the wheel nuts. I give credit to the crew member because when he went to put the wheel on, he realized something was wrong and took it off again. Had he not fixed it, the car probably would have been stopped after the first two corners from the wheel being loose. So we had an issue, but we solved it and maybe lost two seconds and it didn’t make a difference anyway. The mechanic and his actions stopped us from making an even bigger mistake.”
While the team is performing well and Grosjean has the results to prove it, bad luck has hampered Gutiérrez’s efforts and he’s had back-to-back retirements. How do you balance the success of one driver while working to help the other driver overcome the adversity he’s faced?
“With Esteban’s incident in Australia, you look at it with the mindset of, ‘What can you do when a guy runs into you?’ In Bahrain, we had an issue with his brake disc and are still investigating why it actually broke. We are working with the brake manufacturer to have a better understanding of the issue and avoid it in the future. I spoke with Esteban after the race and he said, ‘Guenther, these things happen. There’s nothing we can do.’ He understands why he’s had to retire from each race and now he’s more determined to get to the end and earn points.”
Explain the level of sophistication with today’s Formula One car. Why can’t a problem be fixed in the garage during the race in the same manner a problem with a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car can be fixed during the race?
“If something breaks in a Formula One car, they are so highly sophisticated that it’s quite a process to determine all that’s wrong and then, normally, there’s not enough time to fix it. Plus, your mechanics are involved in all the pit stops, so when something goes wrong, you can’t pull three or four guys to fix an issue because, by regulation, they’re needed for the pit stop with the other car that’s still running on the racetrack. To try to fix the car just to come in last, 20 laps down, doesn’t make any sense.”
Two races in and you’ve already reached some preseason goals, namely scoring points. What do you want to achieve in China?
“One of our goals is to take two cars to the finish, because we haven’t done that one yet. You always want to get better, and the next thing for us to do is take two cars to the finish and, hopefully, both score points.”