Pre-season testing raised a lot of questions; Australia raised even more. Finally, in Malaysia, we started to get a few answers.
Shanghai is a permanent circuit like Sepang, so there is a degree of common ground between what the teams will be faced with in China and what they experienced last weekend.
But that's not to say that there isn't potential for some curve balls. The widely-expected Malaysian rain never eventuated, but Shanghai is more than capable of producing a few meteorological surprises of its own, which could give Pirelli's inters and wets their first taste of competitive action.
If it stays dry, then Malaysia showed us nothing to dispel the sense that a lot of engineers will spend this weekend trying to work out what they can do about Red Bull. There's a glimmer of hope in that the RB7 has a very clear, KERS-shaped weak spot, and it was significant enough to blunt Mark Webber's attack last Sunday.
Red Bull has acknowledged the problem but it also plans to continue with the system this week, which points to a confidence that things are in hand.
Nevertheless, McLaren will be looking for any opportunity to capitalise should the Bulls falter, and it is pushing to introduce some new developments, including a different floor and exhaust layout, to get it on equal terms.
That kind of gain seems like a pipe dream for Ferrari at the moment. The Maranello team admits to having been blindsided by the lack of performance delivered by its final pre-season upgrades, and the opening races are rapidly turning into an exercise in damage limitation before the next raft of updates can be introduced.
Just behind them, Renault will be looking to press on with its good start to the season and will be boosting its efforts by wheeling out the second half of a major update package that began in Malaysia.
The DRS system had more of a chance to strut its stuff in Malaysia than was the case in Melbourne, and while its effect in China might be less dramatic, it should still facilitate a bit of overtaking at a track where passing can otherwise be difficult.
The combination of a smoother track surface and expected lower temperatures mean that tyre degradation should be less of an issue in Shanghai than was the case in Malaysia.
This should offer teams a bit more flexibility in terms of their pitstop strategy, as well as making a trip off-line less daunting for drivers looking for an opportunity to pass the car ahead.
|DRIVERS' FORM GUIDE|
|Driver||Malaysia 2011||Australia 2011||Abu Dhabi 2010||Interlagos 2010||Korea 2010|
|Paul di Resta||10||10|
|DRIVERS' HISTORY - SHANGHAI|
|Paul di Resta|
From the forum
Mercedes has one of the fastest straight line speeds, as I'm sure you know, provided that they can get it right with DRS. If they can, they will be in great shape in qualifying and race.
Should be a lot of overtaking, Turn 11 bunches the field up so it should be easier to stay within the required one second and the straight is long enough to allow you to get a tow, deploy DRS and get past the car ahead before the next corner.
So that's on the back straight and not the SF unlike in Malaysia. I don't think they could have done it any other way, but I think there's going to be a ridiculous amount of passing at China: Mercedes especially will be in deep trouble if they manage to qualify ahead of the quicker Saubers.
|Join the debate: Forum China preview|
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