Rosberg eyes further Shanghai gains


Formula One resorts to the 2015 qualifying system this weekend and Nico Rosberg will be hoping normal service is resumed when he attempts to win a sixth race in a row at the Chinese Grand Prix.

The furore over a new elimination-style format which was introduced at the start of this season ended this week when it was agreed to go back to the system used last year.

Rosberg has carried on where he left off at the end of 2015 by winning in Australia and Bahrain, with Lewis Hamilton 17 points adrift of his Mercedes team-mate after finishing second and third in the first two races.

Hamilton started on pole in both races this season, but the world champion will not be at the front of the grid at the Shanghai International Circuit after he was given a five-place penalty for a gearbox change.

The Brit has won the last two races in China and four times in total, but the odds are stacked against him topping the podium for the first time this season on Sunday.

Ferrari already trail Mercedes by 50 points in the constructors' standings after a difficult start to the season in which they have encountered problems with the SF16-H and the Italian team will be out to make up some ground in the Chinese capital.



Hamilton has lost a combined total of 11 places in the first laps of the two races so far this season. He slipped back to sixth in the season-opener in Melbourne after starting on pole, then dropped to seventh under the lights in Bahrain before working his way back through the field to fill the podium. 

The three-time world champion will need to move in the opposite direction third time around after been hit with a grid penalty.



Rosberg has won the first two races of the season for the first time in his career, but the German is taking nothing for granted this weekend despite the fact that Hamilton will start on the back foot.

He said: "I have taken notice of that [his penalty] but it hasn't really changed my approach at all because a Hamilton that starts sixth is still going to challenge for the win and we know that, so from that point of view it doesn't really change much for me."



Fernando Alonso was ruled out of the Bahrain Grand Prix due to injuries he sustained following a crash in Australia. The Spaniard was provisionally cleared to race this weekend pending further checks after the first practice session on Friday.

Stoffel Vandoorne replaced the Spaniard in Sakhir and finished 10th to secure McLaren's first point of the season and Alonso will be looking to make an impact on his return if he gets the all clear.



The challenging 5.451 kilometre Shanghai International Circuit has high-speed straights and a variety of window turns with plenty of scope for overtaking. A long right-hander opens the lap, so there could be more drama at the start. A lengthy straight between 13 and 14 provides a great opportunity to pass.



Drivers could face wet conditions in qualifying on Saturday, with rain forecast to arrive late on Friday. Light rain is expected to persist on Saturday, but is not expected to fall on race day. 



Rosberg has opted to go with three medium, five soft and five super-soft tyres in Shanghai. Hamilton has chosen four medium and as many soft, with five super-soft tyres. The Ferrari duo of Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen will have six super softs apiece, with three mediums and two softs. Williams pair Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa will favoured the super soft, selecting seven each.