Daniel Ricciardo says the nature of the Shanghai International circuit will present a much tougher battle to continue his run of top five finishes.
The Red Bull Racing driver has emerged as the best driver outside of the front running Mercedes and Ferrari squads, having scored fourth place finishes in Australia and Bahrain.
Sitting third in the championship ahead of this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix, the Australian fears the circuit will not suit his RB12 chassis and expects a much stronger showing from Williams and Toro Rosso.
“The nature of this track really doesn’t suit us as much as Bahrain,” said Ricciardo.
“Because it’s front-end limited, the likes of Williams and Toro Rosso will benefit from that. Where we’ve had a little bit of an advantage is with rear wear, like in Bahrain.
“And here, with less rear wear, they will be able to get away with running a bit more aggressive and being a bit quicker.
“So I’m expecting it’ll be harder to crack the top five here, but if we do it’ll be another good achievement for us.”
The circuit’s mix of high speed corners and long straights will require Red Bull to run lower downforce than the optimum level to compensate for the power disadvantage suffered by the Renault engine.
Ricciardo believes a compromised set up could leave him vulnerable in Sunday’s race.
“The middle sector and fast flowing corners should be good for our car, but then again you have the long straight,” Ricciardo added.
“We still have to run a little less downforce than optimum if we want to be in a good race shape.
“On the simulations, a high-downforce package is quicker here over one lap, but that makes us even more vulnerable for the race.
“It’s one that we always have to work out but we tend to run less than we want to because we need every little kph that we can get.”