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Shanghai 2009: KERS & Tyre Compound Updates

Shanghai 2009: KERS & Tyre Compound Updates

BMW have announced that Robert Kubica will be given a KERS-fitted car on Friday when he takes part in free practice for the Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai circuit. The Polish driver has been forced to run a non-KERS car so far this season because the added weight negates the advantage from the added boost in horsepower. However, BMW have been working hard at shedding some pounds from the F1.09 and the team will evaluate its effectiveness on Friday.

Nick Heidfeld, Kubica’s team mate, is much smaller and lighter, and the German has been able to utilise KERS, even managing a second place finish at Sepang in Malaysia. If the device adds an advantage to Robert’s car on the long straights without taking away too much from the overall balance, Kubica could be allowed to run the energy recovery device.

Staying with KERS, Ferrari have announced that following the ongoing problems with their device, they will not run it during this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. During pre-season testing, the Scuderia had all sorts of overheating issues, and these appear to have continued into the racing season as well, with Kimi Raikkonen leaping from his F60 during practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix – the device caused the cockpit fire extinguisher to trigger. Raikkonen then suffered a terminal problem with the device at the end of the shortened race on Sunday.

Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali spoke of the need for Ferrari to finish races and build from that. So far, their campaign has got off to a terrible start and the reigning constructors champions are yet to score a single point in 2009.

At this moment we need to be basic, we need to bring home what we can in these conditions and wait for the development of the new car and then see. At this stage it is really important to be basic with everything. Stefano Domenicali.

Finally, double world champion Fernando Alonso has been openly critical of Bridgestone’s choice of compounds for the race this weekend. The Japanese tyre manufacturer, who are the sole supplier to Formula One, have opted to bring super-softs and hards to Shanghai, but Alonso feels the super-softs won’t hold up for much more than a handful of laps.

The compound was used for the opening race in Melbourne, and the tyres there were going off after about ten laps. But with the harsh and abrasive nature of Shanghai’s track surface, Alonso believes the tyres may not last any more than five laps. With the fans in mind, Alonso had these scathing words to say about the decision…

I think the super-soft on this type of circuit with long, high-speed corners… in Turn 1 it will be destroyed and in Turn 10 there will be no more left tyre.

I think it is the worst decision they made in a long time, because it is a ridiculous tyre for here, for Shanghai. I don’t know if Bridgestone made the decision or the FIA, but they have to reconsider this type of decision because we look ridiculous on television and we look ridiculous for the spectators, and it is a joke to be in front of TV six seconds slower.

We will need to change the tyres after five or six laps, is our calculation, because this track is harder than Melbourne and there we only did eight or nine laps.

And if they want to be funny and mix the results and have overtaking, they can do a better job – a funny solution, maybe they can put us on the wet tyres or something. Like this it looks more spectacular – the difference in the speed. I don’t know…

I’m very worried about this and I’m very sad about this, because we look strange in front of people. Fernando Alonso.

Of course, if Fernando really wanted to be on wet tyres when the track is dry he may want to try and speed up his speculated move to Ferrari. Although joking aside, Alonso also told reporters in Shanghai that the drivers are not consulted on the choice of compounds taken to the grands prix.

After the Australian Grand Prix, the drivers complained because they felt the incident between Robert Kubica and Sebastian Vettel was down to the difference in speed, which was primarily caused by the tyres. However it would seem their request to be involved in the decision making process is, so far, going unanswered.

Oliver White

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