It’s been good to have a bit of a break after such a long stint away but I’m already looking forward to getting back in the car. The last race in Bahrain was fantastic: not just for us as a team but for the sport and I’m sure it won’t be the last time we see a great show this year. I’m in a really good place at the moment and walking around the garage too, you can see the positive energy within the team right now. Everyone is focused on getting the maximum from these early races and continuing to build beyond the strong start we’ve made to the season. I’ve had some ups and downs in China. On one side I’ve only finished outside of the podium places twice at this circuit. On the other, in my first season in Formula One I threw away a championship lead here by going into the gravel coming into the pits. Generally, though, I’m getting stronger every time I come to this track and it suits my driving style quite well. The aim, as always, is to win and if I could make it three in a row this weekend that would be incredible.
China: In the Cockpit with Lewis
The Shanghai International Circuit is a different challenge to what we’ve seen so far in 2014 but it’s one I really enjoy. Starting at Turn One, you’ve got an opening corner that seems to go on forever and puts a lot of stress on the front tyres. That then tightens into Turn Two, which is tricky as you can’t really see the apex. Getting the right line between these two is really important as it sets you up for the switchback of Turn Three before getting the power down out of Turn Four.
Turn Five is more of a gentle curve before braking nice and late into Turn Six. This looks pretty tight but you can actually carry a lot of speed through the apex as there’s good grip there and it opens up nicely on exit. Then, it’s up through the gears and holding fifth through Turn Seven which flows straight into the tricky, low-grip Turn Eight. Turns Nine and 10 are quite slow by comparison but again don’t give you a lot of grip.
After a medium length straight it’s Important not to out-brake yourself into Turn 11, as positioning is crucial for Turns 12 and 13 which form a long right-hand curve that just seems to keep going and going with the car constantly moving about. Then you’re onto the back straight: one of the longest on the calendar and a good overtaking spot with the DRS zone making it even tougher to defend.
There’s a lot of time to be gained on the brakes into Turn 14 but you have to get a good exit, as it effectively sets you up for a run all the way through the final two turns and across the line. The last corner itself often catches people out and you almost have to be a little cautious here as a small mistake can give your opponents a passing opportunity down the DRS stretch into Turn One.