McLaren’s much-heralded ‘F-duct’ system is going to cause headaches for rival teams at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, with the team set to have a considerable straight-line speed advantage on the circuit’s long back straight.

McLaren vs Ferrari

The straight between Turns 13 and 14 is among the longest on the F1 calendar, and regularly sees top speeds in excess of 300km/h before drivers slam on the anchors to slow for the tight right-hand hairpin, which is where the majority of overtaking occurs.

The ‘F-duct’ – the controversial device pioneered by McLaren and copied by Sauber, which allows for an increase in top speed by ‘stalling’ the rear wing on the straights – saw McLaren as a pacesetter at the last round in Malaysia, but a monumental tactical blunder saw both drivers qualify well down the field and bent on recovery drives into the points for the race.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa believes that Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will possess very slippery MP4-25s this weekend, and that rival teams will be forced to trim the aero of their cars to give them enough straight-line speed to keep pace with the McLarens on the straight.

"It’s a nice circuit to drive and the extremely long straight leading into a tight corner means there is a real possibility to overtake," Massa said, when asked about the Hermann Tilke designed Shanghai circuit.

"However, we will need to be careful on that straight this year, because we have seen that the McLaren in particular has a very high top speed, so in case of a close battle with them we will have to be careful and ready to defend position."

However, the current championship leader is confident about the team’s position this weekend, and believes the team can fight with its closest rivals at the head of the field.

“We will have some new components on the car, aimed at improving performance and I hope they prove to be successful to help us in our fight, especially with the Red Bulls and the McLarens," he said.

Lewis Hamilton was bullish about McLaren’s prospects this weekend.

"Overtaking is possible at this circuit, particularly at the end of the long back straight, so I’m pretty confident we’ll have another competitive weekend," he said.

Of the rival teams, only Sauber have so far integrated the concept on their execrable C29, but it is rumoured that Williams is in the final stages of developing its own system, with Ferrari not too far behind them.

[Original image via GP Update]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.