Shanghai International Circuit - first Chinese Formula One track

  • Shanghai International Circuit

The Shanghai International Circuit is the most known Chinese race track, situated in Jiading, Shanghai. The circuit is the venue of the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix since 2004, but it has also hosted other international series such as World Endurance Championship, World Touring Car Championship, TCR International Series, A1 GP series or Moto GP Championship.

Shanghai International Circuit, 2016, aerial view

Aerial view of the Shanghai International Circuit

Hermann Tilke designed the Shanghai International Circuit

The idea of the Chinese Grand Prix was born in the early 1990s, so the Chinese government decided to build a permanent circuit in Zhuhai in the Guangdong Province. Zhuhai International Circuit was opened in 1996 and it was added to the 1999 Formula One calendar. The track failed to meet FIA standards and Formula One never came to Zhuhai.

The Chinese government didn’t give up and they ordered the construction of a completely new circuit in Shanghai. The famous architect Hermann Tilke designed the facility and an ultra-modern circuit was built with a 5.451-km long track. Constructors started their work in May 2003 and everything was finished in 18 months. When completed in 2004, it was the most expensive Formula One circuit facility, costing about $450 million. A few years later, Abu Dhabi’s Yas Marina Circuit became the most expensive one.

Shanghai International Circuit - main grandstand and the start/finish straight

Shanghai International Circuit – main grandstand and the start/finish straight

China holds one of the longest straights in Formula 1

Tilke-designed 15-turn track layout was inspired by the Chinese character shang (上), the first character in the name of the city Shanghai. The whole circuit, plus seating areas and other areas for spectators, covers a total area of 5.3 km². The track features a very long back straight (1170m) between turns 13 and 14, followed by a hairpin turn. Formula One cars can reach almost 330 km/h on that straight, which is one of the longest ever in Formula One.

Outstanding design of the circuit grandstands

The circuit is also recognizable by modern buildings and grandstands at the start-finish straight. The vast complex is dominated by the main grandstand and pit complex, which featured wing-like viewing platforms crossing the circuit at either end. The main grandstand can hold 30,000 spectators, and the total capacity of the circuit is 200,000. Paddock facilities were also unique – each of the F1 teams had its own building, arranged like pavilions in a lake to resemble the ancient Yuyuan-Garden in Shanghai.

Shanghai International Circuit grandstands

Attractive grandstands at the 1170m long back straight

The first Chinese Grand Prix in history won by Rubens Barichello

Before the construction started, it was announced that the management of the Shanghai International Circuit had signed a 7-year contract with the Formula One management to host Formula One races, starting from the 2004 season. The historical first Chinese Grand Prix was held on September 26th, 2004. The race attracted 260,000 spectators.

It was the sixteenth race (of eighteen) of the 2004 Formula One season. The 56-lap race was won by Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello, from a pole position start. Jenson Button finished second for the BAR team, with Kimi Räikkönen third in a McLaren.

Record lap-time set by Michael Schumacher

The reigning champion and championship leader Michael Schumacher started from the pitlane after he spun in the qualifying, and finished the race at 12th place. Although his result was forgetful, Schumacher set the fastest lap time of 1m32.238s, which remained the best lap until today.

2004 Chinese Grand Prix, winner Rubens Barichello (Brasil), Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, teams Ferrari, BAR, McLaren

Rubens Barichello was the winner of the first ever Chinese Grand Prix in 2004

Schumacher’s last career victory

Even more spectators (270,000) attended the race next year. The 2005 Chinese Grand Prix was the last race of the season. Renault’s driver Fernando Alonso had already secured his first F1 world title, but the race was decisive for the Constructors’ championship. Alonso started from pole and won the race, McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen was second and Toyota’s Ralf Schumacher was third. Another Renault driver Giancarlo Fisichella was fourth and the French manufacturer took the title.

In 2006, the Chinese Grand Prix was won by Michael Schumacher. It was his last victory in his Formula One career. In 2007, Kimi Raikkonen scored the Ferrari’s third victory in China and 200th Grand Prix since Formula One started in 1950. The winner of the 2008 Chinese Grand Prix was Lewis Hamilton, who later became the world champion for the first time.

Sebastian Vettel was the winner in 2009. That year, the Chinese Grand Prix was the third race of the season, which was a change compared to previous events which were held at the end of the season. In 2010 Chinese Grand Prix, the seventh different winner in seven years was McLaren’s Jenson Button.

2006 Chinese Grand Prix, Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, winner, record holder fastest lap

Victory at the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix was the last career win for Michael Schumacher

Second 7-year deal for the Formula 1 Chinese GP was arranged

Immediately after the 2010 race, Bernie Ecclestone announced that Shanghai will be in the Formula One calendar in the future. The deal was officially finished in February 2011 between F1 and the organizers. Reasons for the delay appears to have been over the fee which the organizer had to pay. Only after F1 reduced the fee was the new agreement made for Shanghai to host Formula One races until 2017.

In 2011, Lewis Hamilton scored his second win in China and third for McLaren. He triumphed two more times in 2014 and 2015, driving for Mercedes. Another Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg won in 2012, whilst Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso achieved his second China victory and fourth for Ferrari in 2013. Rosberg repeated a victory in 2016.

2008 Chinese Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, 2008

2008 Chinese Grand Prix – the first victory in China for Lewis Hamilton

WEC and WTCC at Shanghai since 2012

Other major international racing series with multiple appearances at Shanghai International Circuit are the FIA World Endurance Championship and the FIA World Touring Car Championship.

WEC drivers had inaugural 6 hours of Shanghai race in 2012, when Toyota’s Alexander Wurz and Nicolas Lapierre took the win. In the following years, the winners were Andre Lotterer, Benoit Treluyer and Marcel Fassler for Audi (2013), Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi for Toyota (2014), Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley for Porsche (2015). Webber, Bernhard and Hartley scored one more win in 2016.

Record lap time of LMP1 prototypes was about 14 seconds slower compared to Formula One cars. The record holder is Andre Lotterer with Audi R18 e-tron quattro, who drove a lap in 1m46.685s.

The World Touring Car Championship attended Shanghai every year since 2012. They had two races in every event, so eight races were held at shortened Shangai’s track, which was 4.603-km long. Eight different drivers won in ten races, and the only one who repeated a victory was Citroen’s driver Jose Maria Lopez by winning in 2014, 2015 and 2016. He also holds the record lap time of 1m48.782s.

TCR International Series, 2015, Shanghai International Circuit

TCR International Series came to Shanghai International Circuit in 2015

Popular among many racing competitions

In 2015, TCR International Series came to Shangai as a supporting series at Formula One Grand Prix event. The winners of two races were Gianni Morbidelli (Honda Civic) and Andrea Belicchi (Seat Leon Cup Racer).

Australian V8 Supercars Championship had one three-race event at Shanghai during the 2005 season. Todd Kelly was a double winner, Mark Skaife has won one race. In April 2007, Shanghai hosted the penultimate round of 2006/2007 A1 Grand Prix series. From 2005 to 2008, Moto GP championship also raced at Shanghai International Circuit, with two victories of Valentino Rossi and one win each for Dani Pedrosa and Casey Stoner.

Video : Onboard lap with Juan Pablo Montoya at Shanghai International Circuit

 


Adresss:  2000 Yining Road, Jiading, Shanghai, China

Phone:  +86 21 5950 2078

Official website: www.icsh.sh.cn


Photos: tcr-series.com, fiawtcc.com, motorsport.com, autorevue.at.

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