Haas F1 driver Romain Grosjean has predicted a Shanghai surprise this weekend, with the Chinese Grand Prix set to be a big contrast to the two outings seen so far in Australia and Bahrain.
"Shanghai is a tricky track because it’s very different from the early stages in the year," he said as he prepared to jet off.
"The weather can be challenging," he added. "It can be cold or hot. A lot will depend on that.
"The balance is really difficult to find because there’s a lot of demands on the front tyres, which makes it tricky.
"One of the main concerns is trying to find a way to get the best from the front tyres," he said. "It’s a front-limited circuit, meaning that the car needs to work well with front tyres. If it doesn’t, then it gets very tricky."
There's an unusual factor to this weekend race: for the first time, Pirelli's three tyre compounds on offer are not in sequence. The soft and ultrasoft compounds are available to teams, but the supersoft has been left at home.
"I guess it’s going to open strategies," Grosjean mused. "Especially if there’s quite a lot of degradation on the ultrasofts. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do."
Grosjean said he was hoping to see more overtaking on track in the third Grand Prix of the season.
"Overtaking in China is always pretty good, it’s always exciting," he said. "There’s the long backstraight with DRS helping overtaking manoeuvres.
"It’s very challenging," he noted. "It’s not easy to find the perfect lane.
"That long right-hand side corner, going onto the throttle, as well, is important because you’ve got one-and-a-half kilometer of straight line. You need to be as early as possible on the power.
"In general, if the car is good in qualifying, the race should be quite good. If not, then in the race you’re going to struggle."
Both Grosjean and his team mate Kevin Magnussen qualified in the top ten in Melbourne, only to retire after problems during their pit stops.
However Grosjean missed out on progressing beyond Q1 in Bahrain, despite setting an identical time to McLaren's Fernando Alonso.
"If you qualify in the top ten, you should finish in the top ten [in China]," he said. "If you’re not, then it’s harder.
"I’ve had good cars in Shanghai, therefore I’ve been able to score points."
Grosjean has yet to score points in 2018. Following his retirement in Melbourne, he finished Bahrain in 13th. However his team mate was able to secure the team's first points with a fifth place finish in Bahrain.