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Chinese Grand Prix: History of Formula 1 racing in Shanghai

Rubens-Barrichello-Chinese-GP-2004-f1-Chinese Grand Prix

A look at the history of the pinnacle of motorsports, Formula 1, in the land of Mao – the Chinese Grand Prix – from the very beginning.

Rubens Barrichello won the first Chinese Grand Prix, at the Shanghai International Circuit, for Ferrari, sharing the podium with Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen. And Michael Schumacher took win #91 here in 2006.

In 2004, the Bernie Ecclestone-run Formula 1 circus goes beyond the Iron Curtain and into the Red Zone. Bernie and F1 had a billion reasons to race in China, a nation with the largest population.

The prospect of bringing Formula 1 to a billion-plus population was very tempting. Bernie’s preferred architect Hermann Tilke designed the 5.45 km track. The track opened on June 6, 2004, at a cost of $450-million.

Barrichello hangs ‘em high in at first Chinese Grand Prix

GP China 2004: La primera y (pen)última pole de Ferrari en China | Auto Bild España

The inaugural Chinese Grand Prix was sponsored by Petrochemical company Sinopec and took place on September 26, 2004.

The race was Round 16 of 18. Ferrari and their Red Baron, Michael Schumacher, had already wrapped up the Constructors’ and Drivers’ Championship, respectively.

The eternal #2 at Ferrari, Rubens Barrichello, started the race from pole position and took victory by 1.03s over Jenson Button in his BAR-Honda. Kimi Raikkonen was third for McLaren-Mercedes.

The 2004 Chinese Grand Prix has the distinction of being the first Formula 1 race in which the communication between the driver and team was made available to millions of viewers across the globe.

Autosport reported on September 24, 2004, ‘the slight delay also saves viewers from the risk of profanity, with Juan Pablo Montoya apparently pretty highly ranked on that particular danger list!’

Viva Espana enter Fernando Alonso

alonso renault briatore f1 world champion Chinese Grand Prix

The 2005 Chinese Grand Prix was the season finale. Schumacher’s Ferrari collided with the Minardi of Dutch driver Christian Albers on the way to the grid.

Again, the race was won from pole position, this time by the newly crowned F1 world champion, Fernando Alonso in his Renault.

Kimi Raikkonen was second for McLaren-Mercedes and Ralf Schumacher was third for Toyota. With this race the curtain came down on the career of Brazilian driver Antonio “Jungle Boy” Pizzonia.

The Final Blitzkrieg

Chinese Grand Prix michael-schumacher-chinese-grand-prix-2006

The battle for the 2006 World Championship between Fernando Alonso and Michael Shumacher went down to the season finale in Brazil.

The 2006 Chinese Grand Prix, Round 16 of 18, saw Alonso take pole position and set fastest lap of the race. He was beaten to the chequered flag by Michael Schumacher in what turned out to be his 91st. and final victory of his legendary career.

Alonso in second was followed by his Renault teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella for third step of the podium.

Championship lost in the kitty litter

Hamilton China 2007 ( 2 races left, 17 points ahead when victory was 10 points. Surely he's got this one in the bag? Aw well he can still do it in Brazil....Doh!) : r/formula1

The 2007 Chinese Grand Prix will always remain ‘what could have been?’ Ron Dennis’ rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton was leading from pole position in the rain. McLaren team’s decision to delay his pit stop led him to spin into the gravel pit at the entrance of the pit lane.

Ron’s former championship material driver, Kimi Raikkonen, kept his cool and went on to win the race – and as it turned out the world championship in the season finale in Sao Paulo. This was Ferrari’s 200th. Formula 1 Grand Prix victory.

McLaren’s one-season wonder turned into a one-season nightmare, Fernando Alonso, was second and local lad Felipe Massa was third.

Hammer Time in Shanghai

Lewis Hamilton wins in China to stretch lead - Eurosport

Lewis Hamilton won the 2008 Chinese Grand Prix for McLaren, on his way to the first of his seven championships. He is the most successful driver at the Shanghai circuit, won again with McLaren in 2011, and took four wins here with Mercedes in 2014, ‘15, ‘17 & ‘19.

The 2019 Chinese Grand Prix was the 1,000th Formula 1 championship race.

The Red Bull Stampede

Formel 1: Stimmen zum Vettel-Sieg - Bilder - Formel 1 - FOCUS online

It had to happen once Adrian Newey was hired by Dietrich Mateschitz, the founder of Red Bull. It was on April 19, 2009.

Their German wunderkind Sebastian Vettel charged to victory from pole position. Australian teammate Mark Webber was second, Jenson Button in a Brawn completed the podium.

Button, after winning the championship in 2009 with Ross Brawn’s team, switched to McLaren and won the 2010 Chinese Grand Prix.

His teammate, Lewis Hamilton set the fastest lap and finished second. Nico Rosberg was third for Mercedes.

Mercedes Tri-Star shines bright at Chinese Grand Prix

Nico Rosberg siegt in China – DW – 15.04.2012

The Stuttgart-based German manufacturer has a long and distinguished history in motor racing. In 1955, it took Fangio to his third championship and Stirling Moss to a famous victory in the Mille Miglia.

The current team is based in Brackley, England. It engineered the dramatic comeback of seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher. But it was the son of ex-world champion Keke Rosberg who delivered their first modern era Formula 1 Grand Prix victory in Shanghai in 2012.

Nico Rosberg won the race from pole position. McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton were second and third, respectively. Kamui Kobayashi in a Sauber set the fastest lap of the race.

In 2013, Fernando Alonso became the only driver – apart from Hamilton – to win in China with two different teams. The Ferrari pilot was followed in second place by Kimi Raikkonen in a Lotus.

Hamilton, who started from pole position in his Mercedes, was third.

The Silver Streak in Shanghai

Brilliant Ricciardo claims incident-packed Chinese Grand Prix GP victory

Between 2014 & 2019 the only non-Mercedes winner was Daniel Ricciardo for Red Bull in 2018. Rosberg took his second Shanghai win in his championship-winning 2016 season.

The remaining four races in this period were won by Hamilton. The 2019 edition was the last Chinese Grand Prix before COVID-19 put a kibosh on the event.

The Chinese Grand Prix returns this Sunday as Round 5 of 24. A Shanghai Surprise, maiden win for Norris or Piastri, or Leclerc winning for the first time since Austria in July 2022 will be a welcome sight.

The Verstappen name has never been among the winners. Expect a Max performance at the 18th edition of the Chinese Grand Prix.