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Panasonic Toyota Racing: GP of China - Preview

Grand Prix of China - Selected Preview Quotes

Motorsport
Ricardo Zonta - Race Driver, Car Number 16
"I am really looking forward to the Chinese Grand Prix. As a driver, it is always enjoyable to visit new tracks, and it is important to have China on the Formula One calendar. Because it is a new track, it is impossible to predict how Panasonic Toyota Racing will get on this weekend, although we will have a much better idea after free practice on Friday. During the first hour of free practice, the most important thing is to get to know the circuit and to find the limit both of the track and of the car. Judging from the circuit map, the track looks very slow. But you have to drive it before judging whether or not it is going to be fun."

Olivier Panis - Race Driver, Car Number 17
"I am very happy to be going to China. New races are always exciting, and so much will be different this time with a new country and culture to experience. Everyone in the business world looks to China and Shanghai is now one of the big business centres with a huge population. So it is good both for the image of Formula 1 to race there and for the Chinese to have such a high technology event. Before the weekend itself I'll go round the circuit with my engineer. Then I'll spend the first session on Friday just learning the track without playing about too much with the set-up. You have to find your own speed before you change something. But I'm looking forward to it because the circuit design looks really nice, but also challenging for the driver."

Ryan Briscoe - Third Driver, Car Number 38
"My work on Friday will be even more important than usual at the Chinese Grand Prix. The team will be looking for every extra little bit of detail that we can pick up. The tyre comparison will be more difficult than usual and we will not be 100 percent sure about set-up, so we might vary the set-ups on the cars to see what is best. Of course, the new circuit will be very slippery to begin with and it will improve a lot over the weekend, so we have to keep that in mind as well and see how much of the Friday data will be reliable for the race. Like everyone, I am looking forward to seeing China and I hope to get out and see Shanghai because everyone says it's quite spectacular."

Tsutomu Tomita - Team Principal
"China is an extremely important market for Toyota, one in which we are continuously expanding and I hope that our participation in this weekend's grand prix will be fruitful to our growth. It will give us the opportunity to demonstrate what Toyota is about as we look to increase our sales to the valued Chinese customers. Like all other F1 teams, this will be Panasonic Toyota Racing's first opportunity to visit the Shanghai International Circuit. We have no prior experience to draw on and no track data, which places more of an emphasis on Friday's practice sessions to optimise the car set-up. Quick, but efficient work will be critical, but I have complete faith in the abilities of our team and drivers to get the best performance out of our TF104B car this weekend."


Around the Shanghai International Circuit with Ryan Briscoe
"The new Shanghai International Circuit is smooth, wide, with low kerbs. Generally it looks like a high downforce circuit. There are quite a lot of slow corners and a couple of high speed corners. It looks quite a technical track so we should see some good driving.

There are also a couple of very heavy braking points that should also make racing interesting, maybe some good passing opportunities. The hairpin at the end of the back straight, turn 14, will definitely be the prime passing zone. And, while you never know until you try them out, there could also be a chance into turn 6 or even turn 11.

There are a couple of unique points about the circuit, starting with turn 1. It's unbelievable. It's a very long, long corner which almost comes full circle. You have a very fast entry at about 300kmh and brake late, taking lots of speed in. That will make it quite difficult on tyres. But the corner then starts to tighten up all the way through so you have to keep a tidy line right round to turn 2. Then it's just about trying to get the right line through the change of direction into turn 3, which is taken in first gear.

It's important to get a good exit out of turn 3 with good traction as it's a reasonable straight from turn 4 to turn 6. It's difficult to see how tight turn 4 is, so I'm not sure if it's flat. But if it's not flat it will be close to flat. Turn 5 is flat and we'll be up to sixth before heavy braking into turn 6, another slow corner. Our simulations say that it's a first gear corner, but it may prove to be possible in second.

Out of there, there's a very fast left-hander through turn 7, which is where we're going to need a lot of downforce. It's taken in fifth at a minimum of 240kmh and it looks quite a similar fast corner to turn four at Jerez. Then we have a change of direction into turn 8. There's a change of direction and it's a slightly slower, third gear corner. That sweeping section looks quite original and it looks like it could be an enjoyable section for driving, so I'm looking forward to it.

The circuit looks like it will be very wide and it looks like there could be some different racing lines and different interpretations of taking the corners - especially out of turn 8 and into turn 9. It looks like we won't be using all of the circuit out of turn 8 and setting up the car more to make sure you have a good exit out of turn 9 to take good speed through turn 10 up the straight.

Turn 11 is another slow corner which our simulation tells us will be taken in first, but may end up in second. It looks like it will be around 70kmh, similar to turn 6 and turn 3. After this tight left-hander there's a quick change of direction into a long, sweeping right-hander, turn 12.

Turn 13 is another very long corner, taking you onto the back straight, which is also very long. I'm sure there could be a lot of slipstreaming and good passing potential into turn 14, which is a very tight first gear corner taken at around 60kmh. It has a wide exit, though, from which you accelerate up to fifth before the last corner, taken in second, which puts us back on the start-finish straight."