To end the run of Asian races, Formula One went back to conventional circuits and schedules for the Japanese and Chinese Grands Prix.
Both Fuji and Shanghai are typical modern F1 tracks, with long straights, some punishing turns and equally frustrating slow corners. Each track does have its differences, though. Fuji demands a lower drag set-up to cope with the straight, while China's fast turns demand more downforce.
For the championship leaders the Bridgestone tyre choice and ambient temperature provided the main difference. Japan's cooler weather was matched by the choice of Bridgestone's soft and medium compounds. This allowed Ferrari to get the tyres into their operating window and their superior aerodynamics provided the balance of their lap time advantage.
But China had warmer temperatures, some ten degrees warmer than those in Japan, yet the tyre choice was up one grade to the medium and hard tyres. McLaren found these conditions more suited to their car - which is harder on its tyres - without the need to run low drag. McLaren had an advantage.