Every race on the F1 calendar is special – for the competitive opportunity it brings, for its culture, people and places – but occasionally one rises up above the others as a Grand Prix to savour...
So it is with this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix – the 1000th Formula One World Championship race. It’s an impressive milestone for a sport that began life in 1950 on a windswept former airfield in the midlands of Britain, when 21 cars lined up on the grid for the first ever World Championship Grand Prix.
And we’re proud to say that we’ve been involved in more than a quarter of those 1000 races, with 267 starts, 59 victories and 162 podium finishes under our belts since we joined the grid in 2005. And not only is this weekend F1’s 1000th World Championship race, it’s also the 10th anniversary of our first Grand Prix win, so this weekend is a pretty special one for everyone at the Team, including our drivers…
It’s a pretty big weekend for Formula One in China this weekend. Are you looking forward to being part of it?
I’m really excited to go racing again for the third round of the season. Red Bull took its first victory in China and this year’s race is also F1’s 1000th Grand Prix so it will be a special weekend. China is not actually a place I really know well and last year was my first race there but I’m looking forward to going back.
You scored your first points for the team in Bahrain. Was it a satisfying result?
Looking back to Bahrain, it was not an easy weekend with the changing conditions but at the same time it was good to finish inside the points. Since then, we’ve been focusing on the areas we can improve on ahead of this weekend.
You’ve only raced once in Shanghai, in 2018 with Toro Rosso, so what were your impressions of the circuit?
Shanghai is a really special track with the long back straight and the technical part at the beginning. We just need to keep the improvements we’ve made from one race to another and hopefully we’ll be able to find some more performance and fight for even better points.
We’re heading to Shanghai for race number 1000. Is it a good venue for the occasion?
The Chinese Grand Prix is always a good one for racing because the track gives you a lot of opportunities for overtaking, so I’m looking forward to hopefully having an exciting race there. This year in Shanghai is also the tenth anniversary of the Team’s first race win, so hopefully we can put on a good show, especially for the passionate fans there who always turn out.
It’s not the most straightforward track for a driver is it? There are usually tyre wear issues and set-up is a real compromise due to the long straights and tight complexes of corners early in the lap.
The first sector is really nice because you can take a lot of different lines through the long right-hander so it can be quite interesting during the race in terms of trying to stay out of the dirty air. And yes, the track can also be quite hard on the left front tyre so in the race you’re always looking at how you can use the least amount of energy in that corner.
But it is a place where you can move through the pack isn’t it?
Yep, overall, Shanghai provides you with a lot of opportunities to fight and set up overtakes, for example into Turn 6, where you’re already preparing and setting up for that in Turn 1. We scored some good points and maximised the result in Bahrain but we still have a lot of things to learn about the car. We’ve been busy back at the factory and hopefully we can close the gap in China.