The Grand Prix of China 2020
After the straights of Bahrain, the circuit in China is perhaps the first circuit where cars with a focus on downforce can show what they are capable of. During the first race of the season in Melbourne, that was partly possible, but overtaking is and will remain a thing of the past. In Shanghai there are more than enough places to get past, if you get out of the twisty part well enough, you can pop open the DRS on the straights.
Since 2004, Hermann Tilke's circuit has been on the calendar and the fastest lap was driven by Michael Schumacher in his Ferrari, has never been beaten since then. In 2018, Sebastian Vettel was one second below Schumi's time, with a lap in qualifying on Saturday. Schumacher's 1:32.238 has never been broken during a race.
Chinese F1 history
Back in the early 1990s, the Chinese government planned for the circuit to be placed in Zhuhai, in the south of China. The track was built and then in 1999, the race was added to the F1 World Championship. However, the track failed to meet certain FIA standards. But the Chinese government carried on planning and building and eventually the Shanghai International Circuit was created and they hosted the first ever Formula 1 race in the Asian country in 2004.
That first ever race was won by Scuderia Ferrari and former driver Rubens Barrichello. But the next year, it hosted one of the most iconic races in F1’s recent history. With Ferrari’s dominance in the early 2000s, it was down to Fernando Alonso and Renault F1 team to end the Italians’ success. The Chinese Grand Prix was the last round of the F1 calendar in 2005. The next season (2006) was Michael Schumacher’s last ever race victory in Formula 1.
Rumours over the future of the Chinese Grand Prix began to circulate in 2008, and after a few years of speculation, the matter was finally put to bed by former F1 owner Bernie Ecclestone, saying: “We are not dropping anything. (It’s) 20 races – getting ready for 25.”
In February 2011, it was announced that the Grand Prix would be getting an extension, following years of uncertainty.
In recent seasons, the race, just like the whole of F1, has been dominated by Mercedes. Nico Rosberg was victorious for the Silver Arrows back in 2012, before Alonso won it for Ferrari the following season. But then four seasons in a row, Mercedes claimed the victory – with Rosberg winning in 2016, and Lewis Hamilton the three other occasions.