Shanghai’s official Formula 1 circuit, the Shanghai International Circuit, was designed by F1’s resident architect, Hermann Tilke. The circuit is 3.387 miles long and features 16 corners – nine right-handers and seven left-handers. The long straight between Turns 13 and 14 is nearly three-quarters of a mile long and drivers will hit around 200mph here.
The circuit took just 18 months to complete – from marshland to the state of the art track that we see today – costing around $450 million and utilising the skills of approximately 3,000 engineers. 40,000 stone pillars were inserted into the marshland to give a stable base for the track. The circuit design looks uncannily similar to the Chinese character shang – the first character in the city’s name. Tilke is said to have been unaware of the similarity between the two and it was an unintentional coincidence.
The venue was officially opened on 6 June 2004 in a ceremony that saw a parade of Ferrari road cars taking to the circuit. Gerhard Berger also showed his mettle when he took his team’s 2003 championship winning car around the track. Formula 1 first raced at the circuit in 2004.
The venue can hold around 200,000 spectators and last year saw around 140,000 present on race weekend.
Three different drivers have won the three Chinese Grand Prix to date – 2004 saw Rubens Barrichello take the chequered flag, 2005 saw Fernando Alonso winning, and 2006 the great Michael Schumacher finally get the track right to take the win. Schumacher also holds the lap record with a time of 1:32.328 in 2004. Each of the Chinese Grands Prix has seen exactly 16 cars finish.
Only three drivers have finished in the points at each of the races at Shanghai – Fernando Alonso, Giancarlo Fisichella and Jenson Button.