Get set for the 2017 Chinese GP with our official race preview. It's your digital guide for every lap of every race in 2017.
Hear from McLaren-Honda drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne as they head to the Far East for Round Two.
“Australia was a bit of a surprise for us, as we didn’t expect to perform at the level at we did, although on paper, ultimately, the results show the reality. We know there’s a lot of work to do and we aren’t delivering what we had aimed for pre-season, but equally we’re pushing hard behind the scenes. Despite there being a few fly-aways at the start of the season, we’re still expecting to upgrades at every race, including China.
In Shanghai last year everyone had their eye on the tyres as wear is typically high there and we often saw graining, but it’ll be interesting to see how the new compounds perform on this type of track. The weather is often unpredictable and temperatures can change a lot over the weekend, so it’s something all the teams have to manage with the balance and set-up of the car.
“Shanghai is a really quirky track – Turn One is actually my favourite corner on the whole calendar – and it provides a good test for the driver with a high average speed compared to the street circuit of Melbourne. I’m looking forward to seeing what the new cars are capable of there, and I hope we can at least have a trouble-free race and see where we are when the chequered flag falls.”
“Although the race in Australia was disappointing for us in terms of where we finished the race, for me it was a big milestone in my career and I’m glad I’ve got my first official race start as a McLaren-Honda driver under my belt. I learned a lot and had to react quickly to various challenges we faced over the weekend, and I’m proud of the way we handled them to get the car home.
“Finishing last is never what we would want, and China will be equally difficult for us, but I know we have some new parts for this weekend and as usual we’ll be pushing hard to get the maximum out of our package. The circuit is a new one for me, so I’m looking forward to driving it for the first time for real and not just on the simulator, and getting to grips with the changeable conditions.
“The Shanghai track has very different characteristics from Melbourne and from the next race in Bahrain, so I’m keen to get on top of that early in the weekend and work hard on set-up. It’s a mix of low- and medium-speed corners and then the long, fast straights, so it has a bit of everything. Getting as much time on track during the practice sessions will be important, so I’ll be aiming to learn as much as I can on Friday and will see what we can do over the rest of the weekend.”
Circuit name: Shanghai International Circuit
First race: 2004
The Chinese Grand Prix has been a regular fixture on the Formula One calendar since 2004. The race takes place at the Shanghai International Circuit, which is one of the most expensive purpose-built F1 facilities in the world. Completed at a cost of $450m, the 5.451km/3.367-mile layout is shaped like the Chinese character ‘shang’, which stands for ‘high’ or ‘above’.
What makes the race special?
It’s the Chinese Grand Prix. No World Championship series would be complete without a race in one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Shanghai is the industrial and financial capital of China, having enjoyed double-digit growth for more than a decade.
Bet you never knew...
The Shanghai International Circuit was built on marshland unsuitable for housing. Before building could commence the land needed stabilising, which meant inserting 40,000 concrete pillars 40 metres into the ground.
When Michael Schumacher and Christijan Albers collided in 2005, while en route to the grid. Both drivers were forced to start the race from the pitlane and neither finished the race.
What we love
The architecture. Everything about the circuit is spectacular: the main grandstand holds 30,000 people; the two towers on the pit straight are nine stories high and 140m wide, and the team hospitality suites are scattered around a lake on the infield.
2008, when Lewis Hamilton dominated the entire race weekend. He took pole position by 0.3s in his MP4-23 and won the race by 15s, setting up an epic season finale in Brazil two weeks later that saw him win his first world title.
The popularity of motorsport in China is growing year-on-year, largely due to the grand prix in Shanghai. The city has already staged more F1 races than Adelaide and Estoril and this year’s grand prix, the 14th to be staged at the Shanghai International Circuit, ties it with Brands Hatch and Paul Ricard.
Did you know?
McLaren has won the Chinese Grand Prix three times, in 2008, ’10, ’11.
No Chinese driver has ever started a world championship grand prix, but Ma Qinghua became the first Chinese driver to take part in an official practice session when he took part in FP1 at the 2012 Italian Grand Prix in an HRT.
The colossal Shanghai International Circuit is Formula 1 supersized: huge paddock; towering grandstands and straights that disappear over the horizon. Even after a decade and more of racing in China, it’s still a marvel to behold.
Built on marshland in 2003, the track sits on more than 40,000 stabilising concrete pillars and its infrastructure is bigger and bolder than at any other circuit on the Formula 1 calendar.
Located around 40km from the centre of the world’s most populous city, the Shanghai International Circuit has all sorts of interesting features. The long pit straight and the even longer back straight dominate the first and final sectors and, with slow corners before and after, ensure the Chinese Grand Prix is never short of overtaking opportunities – but the race isn’t a simple, low-drag slipstreaming exercise.
The two ‘snail’ sections – corner complexes that go beyond 180° – and a tight hairpin put a premium on good traction and, combined with the high-speed turns of the middle sector, demand some concessions to downforce. There are also several heavy braking zones. While not a problem for the brakes themselves, the unevenness of the braking zones (a legacy of building on marshland) tends to test out a car’s damping capabilities and force driver errors. The tarmac is also very abrasive with the life of tyres – particularly the softest compounds – sometimes measured in corners rather than laps.
Fernando is a former Chinese Grand Prix winner, taking the chequered flag in 2005 and 2013. McLaren has three wins to its name at this circuit.
How McLaren defined six days in the history of the Chinese GP
September 26 2004
The inaugural Chinese Grand Prix ends with the top three separated by just 1.4s. Kimi Raikkonen comes home third for McLaren, after sitting on the gearbox of Jenson Button from the second round of pitstops.
October 16 2005
Kimi finishes second to newly crowned world champion Fernando Alonso. He sets the fastest lap of the race, but loses a strategic advantage when the Safety Car is deployed after Juan Pablo Montoya dislodges a piece of metal grating at Turn 10.
October 7 2007
Lewis Hamilton does everything right early on. He leads the race from pole position, but as he pits on lap 31 he runs wide at the pitlane entry and beaches his car in the gravel. Raikkonen wins for Ferrari, ahead of Fernando in the second MP4-22.
October 19 2008
Lewis converts pole position into the team’s first victory in China. His fastest lap of the race emphasises his dominance and, as a result of this win, all he needs is fifth place in Interlagos to clinch the world championship.
April 18 2010
A classic Jenson Button victory. Light rain falls at the start of the race and Jenson stays on slicks while his rivals pit for intermediates. When the rain stops and the track dries out, Jenson moves into the lead and is never headed. Lewis finishes second to give Vodafone McLaren Mercedes a one-two finish.
17 April 2011
A three-stop strategy and a fresh set of tyres at the end of the race allows Lewis to rapidly close on Sebastian Vettel, who he audaciously passes for the lead with four laps left. Jenson comes home fourth to maintain his 100 percent finishing record in China.
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