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Wolff: China crucial to F1's global footprint

Wolff: China crucial to F1’s global footprint

Wolff: China crucial to F1's global footprint

Toto Wolff, Mercedes’ team boss, is looking forward to Formula 1’s return to China this weekend after a four-year absence, insisting the country is crucial to the sport’s global footprint.

It is a natural statement by Wolff once one looks at the sales figures of Mercedes Benz in 2023 as the company sold 2,043,800 cars, 737,200 of those going to the Chinese market, the company’s biggest so far.

Speaking in Mercedes‘ preview of the Chinese Grand Prix, Wolff said: “Returning to China is an important moment for the sport.

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“As the world’s largest automotive market and second biggest economy, China is crucial to the sport’s global footprint. The growth of F1 in recent years has been positive and China is a key market in which to continue this progress, he explained.

Mercedes finished the last Chinese Grand Prix back in 2019 first and second with Lewis Hamilton leading then teammate Valtteri Bottas at the flag.

The Austrian added: “We are looking forward to racing in Shanghai for the first time in five years and bringing F1 back to the Chinese fans. With a sell-out crowd expected, I am sure it will be a fantastic event.

“It will be an interesting weekend on track,” he pointed on. “With new cars, new tyres, and changes to the track surface since we last raced in China, there will be plenty of unknowns.

“We have the first Sprint weekend of the year too and that brings its own challenges. The changes to the format, including a second parc fermé, will be an improvement to the rhythm of the weekend – and the single hour of practice still puts pressure on to make correct decisions with imperfect information. We are looking forward to that test, though,” he explained.

While Mercedes won the last time they raced at the Shanghai International Circuit, such a result will not be possible this time around as the team endure one of the worst starts to an F1 season, but Wolff insists there is reason to be optimistic despite George Russell finishing seventh and Hamilton ninth in the previous race in Japan.

“The headline results didn’t necessarily show it, but we made solid progress with our car in Japan,” Wolff insisted. “We are looking forward to building on that this weekend.

Mercedes are currently fourth in the F1 Constructors’ Championship with 34 points. The Chinese Grand Prix will be the fifth race this season.