Shanghai Circuit track poses serious problems

The track of the Chinese Grand Prix was talked about during this first day due to a strange surface placed on it. Several pilots were surprised, all on a tarmac... flammable.

Published on 19/04/2024 à 19:46

Yannis Duval

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Shanghai Circuit track poses serious problems

A very complicated track to understand. ©DPPI

Even before the start of the Chinese Grand Prix, many drivers had already expressed their concerns about the new track surface. Indeed, it has been reported that the track has been treated with a product that makes it quite special.

Charles Leclerc was the first to show surprise at the state of the tarmac: “ It’s been a long time since we drove here and I saw that the track had been painted, that there are weird things on it…” Same story for Esteban Ocon who was a little in the dark before starting his weekend.

“It could be slippery in the wet, or very grippy in the dry. You can't know until you put the car on the track. I was talking with Charles about the fact that in the kart days, there was sometimes paint on the track, and that it tended to add grip! »

Well, after a day of driving, we can say that the Normandy got it right. This Friday, in the dry, the cars had a lot of graining and when the rain arrived, during the sprint qualification, the Shanghai asphalt was transformed into a real ice rink. In SQ3, many drivers were trapped by the conditions. Lando Norris, Max Verstappen but above all Charles Leclerc, who went to caress the wall without too much damage fortunately…

At the end of Sprint qualifying, Max Verstappen spoke about his difficulty in understanding the track when it was raining: “It was incredibly slippery. commented the pilot Red Bull. I just had a lot of trouble getting the tires up to temperature, which is why it was very difficult to keep the car on the track. It was like driving on ice.” Qualified 4th on the grid, the three-time world champion will therefore start on the inside, which does not reassure him greatly... “There's a lot less grip with this thing painted on the tarmac. » 

A flammable track?

We can often tell drivers to put on fire on the track, to put on a show! The problem is that this expression was taken literally, against their will obviously. In Free Practice, a strange fire broke out at the edge of the track, in turn 7. Again during sprint qualifying. At the same bend, a new fire broke out which delayed SQ2. So where does this fire come from?

When cars pass this area, their flat bottoms rub the ground, which causes sparks. No problem so far, a rather ordinary situation. Except that the coating recently placed on the track turned out to be a flammable product. Luckily, it only affected the track and was quickly brought under control by the marshals…

In one day, this track on the Shanghai circuit proved the worried drivers right. On the one hand because it acts in an unusual way on the tires but also because it causes fires to break out. Hoping that she doesn't still have a few surprises in store for the rest of the weekend!

ALSO READ > Hamilton leads Mercedes in Sprint qualifying in China

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