Lowe ready for Ferrari battle in Shanghai

© XPB 

Paddy Lowe expects Mercedes to face a stern challenge from Ferrari at this weekend's Chinese Grand Prix.

Ferrari has shown strong pace during the opening two rounds of the season but poor reliability has seen only one car finish on each occasion. A poor strategic call cost Sebastian Vettel a chance of victory in Australia while Kimi Raikkonen's bad start in Bahrain also ended any realistic hopes, but Mercedes executive director (technical) Lowe expects another battle in Shanghai.

"The Shanghai circuit places an entirely different duty on tyres relative to Melbourne and Bahrain," Lowe said. "However, we have the same three compounds available, so it will be interesting to see how the competitive order plays out.

"It's the first time we'll see the SuperSoft compound used at this track, thanks to the new regulations, and that will likely create a more extreme example of what we saw in Bahrain, where the best qualifying tyre is unlikely to be a great race tyre. Every team is bound to want to qualify on the SuperSoft - but if it grains in the race, we could see cars stopping in the first five laps. There will be plenty of analysis to do on Friday and we could see some interesting calls on qualifying and race strategy.

"What makes this all the more difficult for the teams is the unpredictability of the conditions. It can be quite warm in Shanghai - but it can also be as cool as Belgium. That variability can make life tricky in terms of both setup and strategy work, so it's always a challenging weekend.

"We like going to Shanghai, however. It's an interesting city and traditionally one of our stronger circuits, with four poles and three wins from the last four races. We look forward to another good battle between our drivers and with Ferrari once again."

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff warned after the Bahrain Grand Prix the best of Ferrari has yet to be seen this season.

PROFILE: Paddy Lowe, the pioneer

Sergio Perez exclusive interview: Time to be a driving force

Eric Silbermann ponders the outcome of the qualifying format row

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter