Chinese Grand Prix history 2004-2007

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Michael Schumacher scored his final F1 win at Shanghai in 2006

Journeyer reviews the history of the Chinese Grand Prix – all four years of it…

The Shanghai International Circuit looks a rather bland circuit. Sure, it has a big paddock and great hospitality areas, but the track itself is a Shang-shaped Tilkedrome.

But the Chinese Grand Prix has been an entertaining addition to the calendar. It’s always had some good racing and the last two years have even brought us some unforgettable moments. With a three-way battle for both titles this year, let’s look at what could possibly be in store for us for this year’s race.

2004: Both titles were already decided before the inagural Chinese Grand Prix, but everyone still wanted to be a part of F1’s debut in the world’s largest market. Even Luca di Montezemolo made a visit to see Ferrari win.

Thing was, it wasn’t going to be Michael Schumacher’s race. He made a mistake on his qualifying lap on Saturday and started from the back of the grid. Worse, he took out Christian Klien in an ill-advised overtaking attempt, and also spun as he entered the long back straight. A puncture later on killed his already slim chances of even scoring points.

At the front Kimi Raikkonen was taking on the other Ferrari of Rubens Barrichello for the lead. Barrichello was just about fast enough to hold off Kimi, so McLaren switched their man to a ree-stop strategy. Third-placed Jenson Button was on a two-stop strategy but Button’s pace carried him ahead of Raikkonen after the Finn’s final stop. By the chequered flag, it was Barrichello who took the win, while Button hung on to second from Raikkonen.

2005: This was the valedictory race of several teams. Sauber was to become BMW, Minardi was to become Toro Rosso, BAR was to become Honda, and Jordan was to become Midland.

But mostly, I remember this race as a race of mistakes. Schumacher took out Christijan Albers on his way to the grid. During the race, Schumacher spun off all on his own behind the safety car.

Juan Pablo Montoya hit a loose drainage cover and wrecked his suspension. Narain Karthikeyan went off into the gravel and had a huge moment, writing off his car. But Fernando Alonso stayed error-free to win the race and the Constructors Championship for Renault, and this video shows just how happy the French commentators were.

By the way, near the end of the video, note Flavio Briatore pointing to a fire at the exhaust of Alonso’s Renault, and how all the fire marshals had to rush over and extinguish it!

2006: Michael Schumacher’s last win – and one of his best ever. It started on Saturday, where he dragged his Ferrari up to sixth in qualifying. His car had no business being up there: the Bridgestones were poor in the wet. The next Bridgestone runner on the grid was Mark Webber’s Williams – in 14th.

Renault dominated the start of the race – until the first stops. Schumacher had made his way up to 3rd behind the 2 Renaults of Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella. Both Fisichella and Schumacher kept their tyres on at the first stop, but Alonso asked for new fronts.

As a result, Alonso lost so much time warming up the new fronts, that Fisichella and Schumacher caught up with him. Alonso had no choice but to let Fisi through to try winning the race for Renault, but he couldn’t keep Schumacher behind him for very long.

Not that Fisichella could hold Schumacher off at the last round of stops, either. The top video showed the actual stops, but here’s a bonus video for everyone: the onboard view of Michael Schumacher as he took his final stop and sprinted to nip past Fisichella for the win. Note how he kept his car under control despite a moment at Turn 1 after exiting the pits.

But let’s not forget the backmarkers; they had their mess at the end too. Takuma Sato in the Super Aguri-Honda (who was 2 laps down) accidentally boxed in 4th-placed Nick Heidfeld, allowing Jenson Button in the factory Honda to get past. To make things worse for Heidfeld, as he lapped Sato, Rubens Barrichello in the other factory Honda slammed into the right rear of his BMW. Pedro de la Rosa in the other McLaren went round the outside of the carnage to finish 5th. Barrichello finished 6th minus a front wing, and an incensed Heidfeld limped home 7th.

2007: This was supposed to be Lewis Hamilton’s championship race from heaven. And it sure looked like it at the start, as he controlled the first part of the race.

But then it became the race from hell. First, he unnecessarily fought with Kimi Raikkonen for the lead, when he could have just let him go and concentrate on his race. It put even more stress on his already blistering tyres. But that was nothing compared to the error of the season – that gravel trap in that pitlane. Ron Dennis’ pained expression said it all. And just like 2005, leave it to the French to provide some emotional commentary.

As we all know, Raikkonen went on to win and it set us up for the title shootout at Brazil.

This year sees another trio of title hopefuls. Can Robert Kubica keep his title hopes alive? Can Felipe Massa continue Ferrari’s streak of dominance here? And can Lewis Hamilton bounce back after last year’s embarrassment with a win, and perhaps, an early championship clincher? All that and more this weekend!

This is a guest article by Journeyer. If you want to write a guest article for F1 Fanatic you can find all the information you need here.

9 comments on “Chinese Grand Prix history 2004-2007”

  1. its going to be a good weekend :D

  2. Anyone else hoping for rain…??

  3. Adrian – Afraid it didn’t look likely to begin with:

    Chinese Grand Prix weather forecast

    And it’s looking even less likely now:

    2008 Chinese Grand Prix weather watch (forum)

  4. Hey, for those of us who put money on Kubica to win the title at the start of the year, as “a bit of a laugh”, it’s going to be a very interesting weekend.

  5. I’m with you Adrian :D

  6. First video, @ 0:56 –
    “Oh, that was serious contact… Has it bent anything on the Ferrari?”
    Laughed out loud at that. :D Shows how much the guy cared about Jaguar. :-?
    Good selections again, Journeyer. The Shanghai circuit may have the terrible stigma of a Tilkedrome attached to it, but having driven on a representation of the circuit in my F1 games, although inaccurate in some areas, the circuit is a good challenge. Can’t wait for Sunday!!!

  7. Great onboard of Schumacher. In fact, I could watch a whole race through the onboard. No commentators, just the sound of the engine and watching the moves of the driver. Would be great!

  8. I don’t understand french; but that commentary on the 2005 video is just mind-blowing ! ! FERRRRRNANDO ALONSO… haa haa

    BTW: Have you guys ever heard Arab commentary for football or formula 1, they are even funnier. The commentator just keeps saying, “Massa..Hamilton..Masssssa..Hammmmmilton….and Masssssa…FFFelipppe Masssssa..”( At the start of the hungarian GP)
    “Torres, Torres, Torrressss, Torressssssss….Fernaaando Torresssssss” (After he had scored a goal in some match)

  9. Fernando Torres why Chelsea? Why….

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