Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo are preparing for the unique challenge of the Shanghai International Circuit at next weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, with the race being an important one in the history of the team.
Back in 2009, the team won its first ever grand prix in China as Vettel led home teammate Mark Webber for a Red Bull one-two. Five years and four world titles later, the German driver still has fond memories of racing in Shanghai.
“The grand prix in China is still something special for me, because I won my first race there with Red Bull Racing in 2009,” Vettel explained. “Due to its size, the circuit is unique. The wide stretches mean there are many possible places and opportunities to overtake. Also, the large run-off areas ensure the highest standard of safety. Even the usually narrow pit complex offers plenty of space in Shanghai.”
Having scored his first points for Red Bull in Bahrain, Daniel Ricciardo will be hoping for a repeat performance in China, but he still has fond memories of his first race there back in 2006.
“The back straight provides a good overtaking opportunity into the hairpin but it is quite long,” he said. “I always think back to when I came here as a kid in Formula BMW – massive hair and lots of enthusiasm – and trust me, then, it was the sort of straight where I’d have definitely been reaching for a book if I’d had one! It’s a bit different driving it in an F1 car.”
After a tough winter, Red Bull has finally found its feet and is now back fighting at the front of the field. That said, the worrying gap to Mercedes could mean that any hopes Vettel and the team has of winning a fifth straight title might already be over.
2014 marks the tenth anniversary of the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix, and although Formula 1 may not have made the splash that some had expected, it has certainly been well received, and China is an important market to have a foothold in.