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Teams venture into unknown territory as F1 returns to China

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Teams venture into unknown territory as F1 returns to China

Formula 1 has returned to Shanghai for the first time in five years, with Red Bull looking to continue its early-season dominance.

This weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix is ​​the first since 2019 as the COVID-19 pandemic keeps F1 away from Shanghai.

With no racing in Shanghai for five years, teams enter the weekend with no data to compare their cars in current regulations with those from previous years.

There will also be fewer races for the teams before the races begin, with this weekend being the first of six this season with a sprint race.

This year’s sprint weekend format will have sprint practice and qualifying on Friday, the sprint race and grand prix qualifying on Saturday and the full grand prix on Sunday.

The top eight finishers in the sprint race will earn points toward the world championship, with eight points for the winner and a single point for eighth.

Australian Oscar Piastri will make his first appearance at the Chinese Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver said the weekend’s only practice session will be vital to his success this weekend.

“Since it’s the first sprint weekend of the season, it will be very important to try to make the most of that first practice session to familiarize myself with the track,” he said.

“Hopefully we can try to score more points for the team and have a positive weekend.”

Piastri was a star during sprint racing in 2023, winning in Qatar and finishing second in Belgium.

However, his team has already prepared for a difficult weekend.

Team principal Andrea Stella said this week that she believed Shanghai is a track that will not suit the McLarens.

“Of all the circuits we have raced so far this year, it seems that the Shanghai International Circuit may not be the best for our car, and we could encounter unpredictable weather,” he said.

“The lack of data for all teams could present some opportunities and challenges and we will work hard to ensure we are well prepared and in a position to capitalize when opportunities arise.”

This Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix will start at 5pm AEST.

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