After a few enjoyable days settling back into home life in Monaco with my family, I am about to get on a plane to Shanghai for the fourth round of the championship. Personally, I’m feeling in really good shape, having spent much of the time since Malaysia training. There is a communal gym in the apartment block where I live and it is never busy, so I can get on with whatever I want to do in peace and quiet! Anyway, the weather is already nice and warm in Monaco, so I can also hit the streets and go running or cycling.
And speaking of the weather, as usual, we can expect cool and changeable conditions for the race weekend, as has been a feature of this event in the past. So, we need to be prepared to deal with the possibility of strange weather. I’m also looking forward to the fact that we will have some new components on the car, aimed at improving performance and I hope they prove to be successful to help us in our fight, especially with the Red Bulls and the McLarens. This is the second year we have had to deal with a ban on in-season testing, so the arrival of new components means that the Friday of a race weekend is used, not only for the usual work of comparing the two types of tyre and working on track-specific set-up, but also as a test session for these new elements. Usually we will do a back-to-back comparison, with the new parts on one car and the older version on the other, or we might also swap the parts from one car to the other. After that, during the debrief, we compare all the telemetric data and also mine and Fernando’s opinions on how the new components worked, before making a decision about whether or not to use them for qualifying and the race.
My record in Shanghai is not too bad, as I’ve stood on the podium twice: I came second in 2008 and third in 2007. It’s a nice circuit to drive and the extremely long straight leading into a tight corner means there is a real possibility to overtake. However, we will need to be careful on that straight this year, because we have seen that the McLaren in particular has a very high top speed, so in case of a close battle with them we will have to be careful and ready to defend position. There are some other interesting corners, such as the exit of Turn 1 going into Turn 2, when the rear of the car can get out of shape and generally there are plenty of high speed corners and some quick changes of direction, so I hope our car will be competitive here this weekend and allow us to bring home a significant number of points.