The European season is over and the last three races of the 2006 Formula One calendar will be flyaway events, beginning with this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix. The event is still relatively new, having arrived on the calendar as recently as 2004. The Shanghai International Circuit is based just outside China's biggest city and boasts facilities that rank among the finest that the teams visit during the season. After Jarno Trulli's seventh-place finish at Monza, Panasonic Toyota Racing will be looking to bring home as many points as possible from the last three races. The technical team is confident of a return to better performance in China and the team's race drivers Ralf Schumacher and Jarno Trulli will be pushing hard for the best possible result.
Ralf Schumacher (Car 7): "I have good memories of last year's Chinese Grand Prix, when I took my second podium for Toyota. That was the result of great strategy work and it was a great way to cap off my first year with the team. I still haven't seen much of the city of Shanghai but I do remember that the traffic is crazy! The Shanghai International Circuit is an impressive facility, with a combination of technically challenging corners without being too high speed. It was well designed and it has some features that are unique, especially the long corners. Turn 1 is so long that you almost complete an entire circle so you need to be committed to stay on the limit all the way round without making a mistake. The whole circuit is very wide so there are chances to overtake, particularly at the end of the long straight into turn 14. That makes the track a fun place to race and I look forward to trying to bring home another good result this Sunday."
Jarno Trulli (Car 8): "Unlike most of the drivers on the grid I have only competed in one Chinese Grand Prix – I missed the first event in 2004 because I had only just joined Toyota. So last year's race is my only experience of the circuit and my only visit to Shanghai – I did race in Macau when I was in Formula Three. At last year's grand prix I was impressed both by the city of Shanghai and by the facilities at the circuit. I didn't have the best of races because I lost ground when the safety car came out at just the wrong time for me. But I still enjoyed trying the Shanghai International Circuit which has some good features. It is a mixture of slow twists and long straights so it is a challenge to find a suitable compromise for race set-up. Turn 1 is unique, and it takes you from top gear to first as you go round it. There are a couple of passing chances, one at the end of the long back straight and also into turn 4. After my two points in Italy, we will go to China hoping
to score well to set us up for the final leg of the season."
Pascal Vasselon – Senior General Manager Chassis: "Both the city of Shanghai and the circuit are extraordinary places. The facility is huge and the paddock bungalows are like nowhere else on the calendar. The track itself is average on most parameters like braking, downforce and tyre compounds but it features two very special corners which are entirely unique to the Shanghai International Circuit. At the end of the start-finish straight there is a very long right hander and there is another one at the back end of the circuit. The main consequence is that it puts the emphasis on graining and wear on the front left tyre. At Turn 1 you also see the highest loads on the steering system from the entire season because of the combination of very high cornering and braking accelerations all together. At the other end of the circuit, the exit from the second long right-hander is crucial for speed along the long straight. That means, unusually, that the cars have higher average speeds along that straight with high levels of downforce. We were slightly further back the grid than we expected at Monza but we hope that will be a one-off due to the unique demands of the circuit. At Shanghai we hope to improve and return to challenging the top cars."