Chinese GP Preview

Chinese Grand Prix 2017

Get set for the 2017 Chinese GP with our official race preview. It's your digital guide for every lap of every race in 2017. 

Hear from McLaren-Honda drivers Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne as they head to the Far East for Round Two. 

Fernando Alonso

“Australia was a bit of a surprise for us, as we didn’t expect to perform at the level at we did, although on paper, ultimately, the results show the reality. We know there’s a lot of work to do and we aren’t delivering what we had aimed for pre-season, but equally we’re pushing hard behind the scenes. Despite there being a few fly-aways at the start of the season, we’re still expecting to upgrades at every race, including China.

“In Shanghai last year everyone had their eye on the tyres as wear is typically high there and we often saw graining, but it’ll be interesting to see how the new compounds perform on this type of track. The weather is often unpredictable and temperatures can change a lot over the weekend, so it’s something all the teams have to manage with the balance and set-up of the car.

“Shanghai is a really quirky track – Turn One is actually my favourite corner on the whole calendar – and it provides a good test for the driver with a high average speed compared to the street circuit of Melbourne. I’m looking forward to seeing what the new cars are capable of there, and I hope we can at least have a trouble-free race and see where we are when the chequered flag falls.”

Stoffel Vandoorne

“Although the race in Australia was disappointing for us in terms of where we finished the race, for me it was a big milestone in my career and I’m glad I’ve got my first official race start as a McLaren-Honda driver under my belt. I learned a lot and had to react quickly to various challenges we faced over the weekend, and I’m proud of the way we handled them to get the car home.

“Finishing last is never what we would want, and China will be equally difficult for us, but I know we have some new parts for this weekend and as usual we’ll be pushing hard to get the maximum out of our package. The circuit is a new one for me, so I’m looking forward to driving it for the first time for real and not just on the simulator, and getting to grips with the changeable conditions.

“The Shanghai track has very different characteristics from Melbourne and from the next race in Bahrain, so I’m keen to get on top of that early in the weekend and work hard on set-up. It’s a mix of low- and medium-speed corners and then the long, fast straights, so it has a bit of everything. Getting as much time on track during the practice sessions will be important, so I’ll be aiming to learn as much as I can on Friday and will see what we can do over the rest of the weekend.”

Circuit info 

Circuit name: Shanghai International Circuit
First race: 2004

Previous winners

 2016Nico Rosberg
 2015Lewis Hamilton 
 2014Lewis Hamilton
 2013Fernando Alonso 
 2012Kimi Raikkonen 

History lesson

The Chinese Grand Prix has been a regular fixture on the Formula One calendar since 2004. The race takes place at the Shanghai International Circuit, which is one of the most expensive purpose-built F1 facilities in the world. Completed at a cost of $450m, the 5.451km/3.367-mile layout is shaped like the Chinese character ‘shang’, which stands for ‘high’ or ‘above’.

What makes the race special?

It’s the Chinese Grand Prix. No World Championship series would be complete without a race in one of the fastest-growing economies in the world. Shanghai is the industrial and financial capital of China, having enjoyed double-digit growth for more than a decade.

Bet you never knew...

The Shanghai International Circuit was built on marshland unsuitable for housing. Before building could commence the land needed stabilising, which meant inserting 40,000 concrete pillars 40 metres into the ground.

Crazy moment

When Michael Schumacher and Christijan Albers collided in 2005, while en route to the grid. Both drivers were forced to start the race from the pitlane and neither finished the race.

What we love

The architecture. Everything about the circuit is spectacular: the main grandstand holds 30,000 people; the two towers on the pit straight are nine stories high and 140m wide, and the team hospitality suites are scattered around a lake on the infield.

McLaren memory

2008, when Lewis Hamilton dominated the entire race weekend. He took pole position by 0.3s in his MP4-23 and won the race by 15s, setting up an epic season finale in Brazil two weeks later that saw him win his first world title.

Sporting legacy

The popularity of motorsport in China is growing year-on-year, largely due to the grand prix in Shanghai. The city has already staged more F1 races than Adelaide and Estoril and this year’s grand prix, the 14th to be staged at the Shanghai International Circuit, ties it with Brands Hatch and Paul Ricard.

Did you know?

McLaren has won the Chinese Grand Prix three times, in 2008, ’10, ’11.

Don’t forget

No Chinese driver has ever started a world championship grand prix, but Ma Qinghua became the first Chinese driver to take part in an official practice session when he took part in FP1 at the 2012 Italian Grand Prix in an HRT.