The Chinese Grand Prix had its inaugural race in 2004, dubbed as ‘a modern track for a modern era’, it was the most expensive circuit on the calendar at that time. Rubens Barrichello took the plaudits on that initial outing, whilst driving for the BAR Honda racing team, with nine further drivers going on to master the purposefully tricky layout. The Shanghai International circuit is one that the drivers enjoy, thanks to its sweeping corners, rapid change of acceleration and deceleration and high speed straights, which offer up overtaking opportunities to thrill the driver and fan alike.
Now in its thirteenth year, the Chinese Grand Prix rarely fails to excite, with the temperamental weather conditions that threaten each year only adding to the show. But just what action has occurred down the year’s at the Shanghai track? theCheckeredflag.co.uk bring you five interesting race facts…
Schumacher hopes quashed in Qualifying
In 2004, Michael Schumacher had to start from the pitlane of the maiden Chinese Grand Prix, for the first time ever in his career, after pushing too hard to outdo Ferrari teammate Barrichello, and spinning off into the gravel without setting a time. A rare error for the German maestro, but one that made no difference to his title campaign, having already won 12 out of the first 13 races of that season.
Showdown in Shanghai
In 2005, the Chinese Grand Prix hosted the final round of the F1 season which was won by Fernando Alonso, who having already sealed the driver’s title for himself in the previous round, secured the constructor’s championship for his Renault team. It was not the most enthralling of season finales, with two safety car moments disrupting the action, and despite the possibility of McLaren also being in with a chance of taking the constructor’s title. To their dismay, the squad’s hopes were dashed on Lap 18, when driver Juan Pablo Montoya hit a protruding drain cover, immediately ending his race.
Schumacher ends on a high in Shanghai
The 2006 Chinese Grand Prix was Michael Schumacher’s last race win before hanging up his gloves for the first time, after a highly successful career. The race in Shanghai showcased Schumacher’s skills in all their finery, as the German took victory in a rain drenched race. He narrowly missed out on the title to Alonso that year before retiring from the sport, which many thought was for good, but as we now all know, it was not to be the end.
Hamilton heads above in China
Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver at the Shanghai track, having won the race there on four occasions (in 2008 and 2011 with McLaren, and 2014 and 2015 with Mercedes). However, Ferrari are the most successful team at the Chinese round, having also taken victories there four times (in 2004. 2006, 2007 and 2013). The Brit will be hoping to break Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg’s winning streak in China this weekend, at a track he has clearly mastered more than most over the years, a fact that should provide him with the confidence the current World champion needs to turn the tide on the German.
Chinese Grand Prix tricky to master
The Shanghai circuit has proven to be a tricky customer for many F1 driver’s, with only Hamilton and Alonso winning the Chinese Grand Prix on more than one occasion. The Brit is the only driver to have ever taken back to back victories having completed that feat last year, and this weekend he has the chance to make it a hatrick. As the history books show it could be a struggle, and with pole position rarely guaranteeing a win here, it puts opportunities at the Chinese track very much down to chance. But Lewis Hamilton being Lewis Hamilton, he will not give up the gauntlet lightly.