The 2005 FIA Formula One World Championship draws to its conclusion with the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai this weekend, and with it ends an era for Team Sauber Petronas under the ownership of Peter Sauber. The race will historically mark the last Grand Prix appearance of the team in its present guise, before BMW takes control for 2006.
Willy Rampf (Technical Director): “We learned a lot in our first race in Shanghai last year. It’s a high downforce circuit, rather like Suzuka, with the same compromise that you need for maximum cornering speed but low drag for good straightline speed. At Shanghai overtaking is relatively easy as the track is wide, so you need to be very careful in setting up the car. The track is also quite abrasive, which can lead to tyre graining, and though the surface is smooth there can be a high thermal exchange between the tyre’s contact patch and the road that can lead to blistering if you don’t get things just right. Fuel consumption is also quite high, so you have to be clever with strategy, too. That all makes it challenging for the engineers.”
“It is also challenging for the drivers because there is a good blend of low-, medium- and high-speed corners, and the banked corner that leads on to the straight is particularly satisfying.”
Jacques Villeneuve (151 GPs, 9 points 2005): “I love the track at Shanghai. The layout is interesting and it’s difficult to drive. You can get a good rhythm there and though I don’t like the hairpin, the rest is challenging. I had a reasonable race there with Renault last year and it is not an overly physical circuit. It’ll be fun to finish the season there.”
“China itself can be very stressful. The pace of life on the street there is very hectic, everybody beeping their car horns, massive traffic. It’s like being in a video game!”
Felipe Massa (52 GPs, 8 points 2005): “Shanghai is a fantastic place and this is a great race track. It has some good overtaking possibilities and is one of those places that gives a driver a lot of pleasure to race on. It is very technical and I have good memories of the place after starting fourth there in last year’s inaugural race and winning a Championship point.”
“This will be a special weekend because it marks the last race for the Sauber Petronas Team in its current form and for Peter Sauber as a Team Principal, and my last race with Sauber. I have many fond memories of both because my whole F1 racing career has been spent here. I hope I can do a good job and leave Peter with a nice parting gift, and I will be trying my very best for him this weekend.”