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Tyre preview for the Chinese Grand Prix

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Formula One is set to return at the Shanghai International Circuit this weekend with the Chinese Grand Prix hosting the revised sprint weekend format for the first time in 2024. F1Technical’s senior writer Balázs Szabó delievrs his tyre preview.

The Shanghai International Circuit is set to make its return after a five-year hiatus. While only half of the field has F1 experience in Shanghai, this weekend will be almost a matter of starting from scratch as drivers will race with the post-2022 generation cars for the first time. Moreover, Pirelli used the 13-inch tyres the last time F1 raced here in 2019, meaning that engineers and drivers will need to figure out how to manage the new 18-inch Pirelli tyres the best.

Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli have selected the C2, C3 and C4 compounds, sitting in the middle of their range, to tackle a 5.451km circuit that comprises a mixture of low-, medium- and high-speed corners.

The Shanghai International Circuit is known for its elongated, long-radius medium speed corners that usually put high energy through the tyres. These characteristics often lead to high degradation on the front tyres, and it is not rare that drivers have to manage graining on the fronts. The front-limited nature of the track means that a car that can look after the front tyre can gain a significant advantage.

As for the strategy, the Chinese Grand Prix is usually a two-stop race. It is because of the relatively high tyre degradation and also because of fact that the track offers several overtaking opportunities, including the braking zone of Turn 14 and on the main straight as well as at the braking zone of turn 6.

Pirelli has mandated unusually high minimum tyre pressure, with the limits set at 26.0 psi for the fronts and 22.0 psi for the rears. Camber limits are -3.00 for the front and -1.75 for the rear tyres.

There will be a significant change for the tyre allocation as well as the weekend will run under the sprint format. It means that, the usual dry tyre allocation will drop from 13 sets to 12 (meaning two C2 hards, four C3 mediums and six C4 softs), while the number of wet-weather sets remains the same (five intermediate and two wet).

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