China. The world’s most populous nation, home to 1.4 billion people and still one of the fastest growing economies. Shanghai its most cosmopolitan mainland city, and a cultural melting pot aiming to become the leading global financial hub by 2020.
And since 2004, the city has played host to the Chinese Grand Prix, with its gargantuan venue – the Shanghai International Circuit - a $450 million US dollar monument to progress and opulence.
A fitting place for Formula 1’s 1000th Grand Prix, an incredible milestone event bookmarking its extensive history since the 1950 British Grand Prix.
The track is located around 35 kilometres from downtown Shanghai, over to the city’s north west in the Jiading District. One that’s been developed hugely since the inaugural event.
… which was won by Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello, his last victory for the Scuderia, before two more for Brawn in 2009, taking his tally to 11.
Just three drivers have won multiple events in China, with Lewis Hamilton on five; the retired Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg are on two. Of the current F1 grid, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen have one…
… along with Daniel Ricciardo, who wowed the crowds last year with his win from sixth on the grid, the Australian making full use of his soft tyres after the safety car to pass five drivers in eight laps to take the lead from Mercedes’ Valtteri Bottas into Turn 6 on Lap 45.
SOUNDBITE (English) DANIEL RICCIARDO,
RED BULL RACING, 2014-2018:
“Yeah I was emotional on the podium, definitely. Unfortunately, it's been awhile since I won, and just after a race and after last week, I don’t know, a lot comes to your mind on the podium, and a lot of the struggles and the highs, you think about a lot of things… but to hear the anthem, it's a massively proud moment.”
It was an amazing victory in the context of his turbo failure in final practice, his mechanics under huge pressure to get Ricciardo out for qualifying with just minutes to spare…
For this year, Pirelli will bring the same compounds as Melbourne with the C2 the hard, the C3 the medium, and C4 the soft – equivalent to last year’s medium, soft and ultrasoft.
… and they’ll be put through their paces with Shanghai a technical track, requiring a compromise between braking, power and aero.
SOUNDBITE (English) LEWIS HAMILTON,
4-TIME F1 WORLD CHAMPION:
“The circuit is incredibly tough. It’s a lot of right handers, very, very tough on the front tyres so front graining is the biggest issue. So it’s really, really important to try and find a good balance.”
China’s purpose-built Grand Prix circuit is a 5.4 kilometre monster with 16 turns – seven left, nine right – and a top speed of 335 kilometres per hour. Michael Schumacher’s 2004 Ferrari lap record still stands. There are two DRS activation zones: on the long back straight and downhill pit straight, with two DRS detection points.
The big overtaking opportunities are into Turn 1, and into Turn 14 at the end of the hairpin, following the 1.17 kilometre back straight, which is one of the longest of the season.
Flat-out in the far east. It’s time for the 1000th Grand Prix.