Chinese Grand Prix in doubt for 2011

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Shanghai has not had an extension on its seven-year deal begun in 2004
Shanghai has not had an extension on its seven-year deal begun in 2004

The F1 teams are on their way to Shanghai for the seventh Grand Prix in China this weekend.

But with no deal in place for a race next year, could this be F1’s last visit to Shanghai?

F1 track designer Hermann Tilke’s brief for the Shanghai International Circuit wasn’t short of ambition. Built at a cost of $350m the circuit boasts one of the largest structures in F1 and can accommodate up to 200,000.

But it’s never come close to finding that many paying spectators, and many of the fans that do go pick up cheap tickets sold on by corporate guests who are offered them for free. In recent years the large turn 12 and 13 grandstand has been converted into an giant advertising hoarding.

While Bahrain, which also joined the F1 calendar in 2004, has had its deal extended until 2013, there has been no such extension for the Chinese round.

However car manufacturers see a round in China as being important for the world championship.

In their publicity material sent out ahead of this weekend’s race Mercedes drew attention to the fact that they sell more S Class executive saloons in China than any other country. Ferrari is launching its 599 GTO at the Beijing Motor Show.

The teams are already stretched by the ever-growing ‘flyaway’ portion of the calendar. This year sees the addition of a South Korean round (the traditional rumours about the new round being cancelled were scotched yesterday) and in 2011 the teams will visit India for the first time.

Ultimately, whether China keeps its place on the calendar will most likely be decided by whether the government chooses to keep paying for it.

Can F1 afford to continue racing in China? Can it afford not to if it wants to continue to attract car manufacturers to the sport? Have your say in the comments.

Read more: Which races should Ecclestone cut? (Poll)

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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131 comments on “Chinese Grand Prix in doubt for 2011”

  1. Good job I’m going this year, then. ;)

  2. On another note, as much as F1 wants to be in China, it’s just not getting the returns it needs to get. Not enough people in the stands, not much Chinese investment in F1 (in direct contrast to Abu Dhabi or Malaysia). MotoGP had abandoned China a loooong time ago – and somehow I think F1 will follow suit.

    1. Good point about the sponsorship. Remember in the first year or two some teams ran their existing sponsors in Chinese lettering – we don’t even see that any more.

      1. McLaren have a Chinese sponsor aigo (according to Wikipedia it shouldn’t be capitalised), in English and Chinese on the cockpit behind the front wheels.

        Off the top of my head I can’t think of any other Chinese sponsors but then I only knew about the McLaren one because it is in Chinese on the car.

      2. Yeah, Honda even went as far as having a completely different livery and overalls for the Chinese round (I think this was because of the popularity of their sponsor 555 in China though).

        This picture is from the 2006 Chinese GP –

      3. Technically, Lenovo is a Chinese company. But even now, they’re no more than a minor partner at McLaren, and not like the bigger role they played at Williams in 2007/2008.

      4. You’ve make the point about car manufacturers.

        How many serious car manufacturers are in f1?

        I make it two: Renault and Merc.

        So are market forces so relevant now?

  3. I hope China stays in calendar because it´s a good track and usually gives us good racing.

    1. No. Of course rain makes it interesting, but dry China is booooring

    2. LOVE the sarcasm.

      For real, though? Good riddance.

    3. I feel it’s a good track too, I quite like the first and last few corners. It’s just that F1 cars can’t seem to be that interesting in the dry almost anywhere outside of Spa, Monza, Interlagos or Albert Park. The good races at Shanghai you’re probably talking about were 2006, 2007 and 2009, which were wet races.

      1. But its boring in dry, so its not the best place to host GP

  4. I’d call China GP a failed experiment.
    The structures are great, but the track is not that challenging, and the attendance always seemed to be poor.

    Replacing with a mid July Paul Ricard French GP would be the best, to me.
    But it’s only romance, not business.

    1. Prisoner Monkeys
      13th April 2010, 11:19

      We already know Manhattan and Russia are getting priority from Ecclestone.

      1. I don’t see how in the world they could race in Manhattan. Indy Cars looked at Queens back in their prime, if I remember correctly, and that never materialised. I think New Yorkers would be more outraged at traffic restrictions than excited about F1. I don’t see New Yorkers bending over backwards for Bernie, which is what he requires to host a race. Most of them didn’t want to screw with the Olympics either. Manhattan is a unique place.

    2. ‘A failed experiment’ is exactly how I’d term it.

      F1 doesn’t need to be in China. Only 3 of the teams in F1 are manufacturers that are large enough to want to break into China anyway. The other 9 don’t need to be there at all. China has no more right to be on the calendar just because of an unproven notion that it benefits the manufacturers involved in F1, and with all the small teams struggling to make ends meet, another fly-away is the last thing needed.

  5. Ideally I would like a Chinese GP because I think F1 should visit a country the size and importance of China to make it a true World Championship, which is why I welcome the idea of an Indian GP and would also like a GP in USA, Russia, and Africa.

    Because of the size of the market it should make sense to have a race in China as well.

    But on the other hand the race just doesn’t attract the spectators, does anyone know if there is much of a motorsport scene in China in general.

    1. F1 ‘should’, but if it just doesn’t work out, if they people of the country aren’t interested, which we’ve seen with the vastly empty grandstands, then there really isn’t much point.

    2. “I think F1 should visit a country the size and importance of China to make it a true World Championship”

      I disagree, I don’t think F1 should necessarily go to countries which present the largest markets for manufacturers, it should go to the countries that possess the circuits that can produce the most enteratining races. If a country like China builds a good cicruit then by all means race there but if not, F1 shouldn’t go there just to please the manufacturers or because its a new market.

  6. I dont’ want to bore everyone with the economy and politics side but China isn’t working out that great for F1 but it has a very attractive lure for car manufacturers and because China is now being considered a major power esp with regards to the economy. Bernie said he wanted races in NY etc because of their appeal, China may be costing to host a race but it could cost more not to be there. I think it’s 50/50 at the moment and I wouldn’t be surprised either way.
    On a personal note, I like the first few corners and the last one but generally it’s a track I dislike but there’s usually a chance of some rain which makes it alright :P

    1. “On a personal note, I like the first few corners and the last one but generally it’s a track I dislike but there’s usually a chance of some rain which makes it alright :P ”

      This is exactly the same for me too lol – if it wasn’t for how much it rains there, I would definitely have voted for this track to be dropped in Keith’s poll the other day.

  7. it starts at a tedious time of day for us here at the centre of the known universe but it does show the folly of following the lucre. F1 has destroyed one circuit in Donnington and several others that always sold out are no longer on the calendar. In all likelehood they will never return as it’ll be be too expensive to upgrade them back up to standard.

    TV doesnt like empty grandstands so if you goto new territories you have to take the tracks to the people not put them in the middle of nowhere. Valencia is great in principle, ok the track is dire but its a very attractive place to put on a grand prix.

  8. Such a shame, im sure the 4 people who go every year will be gutted.

    Ive always seen chinese architecture as a whole (the new stuff anyway), to be all style over substance. The track is a classic example.

    Im bored of F1 chasing ‘new markets’ that don’t care, is there any really need, other then money?

  9. I think China will be there, as they one of the power house in asia & the car companies may just be able to pull this race.

    But it’s true the most expensive F1 track in the world with one of the largest spectator capacity it will be a real shame if we miss this GP.

    1. Problem is though Wasi, the capacity for spectators is never met by the demand. Imagine if the massive grandstand was at Silverstone or Spa or Monza?

      Aside from the enormous straight and the turn 2/3 curl-and-switchback, I don’t particularly hold any great feelings for China.

      1. @ James_mc

        Totally agree with you.The biggest capacity tracks are mainly situated here in Asia.China have a capacity of 200,000 whereas Monza have 137,000 & Silverstone only 125,000. Not sure about Spa but may be between 110-125 000.

        This things should be kept into consideration by the organizer (or whoever is responsible for this ) to have more seats in places where F1 is more popular.

  10. I can see China taking a shared slot, alternating with India or perhaps Korea. I think India would like that and it would probably suit China too.

  11. Chinese are the most extreme capitalists. If it doesn’t make them money, they will drop it like a hot potato.

    On the other hand, the Chinese do understand that if the government invests money, it will reap the rewards in the form of improved economy. It’s amazing how they invest in large scale infrastructure programs to create thriving industries.

    It’s nice having a GP for propaganda purposes, but if you have to hand over tens of millions to some greedy old guy then in the end you do want something in return.

  12. Why would India like that?

  13. I don’t care about politics. I only care about the track, which is boring apart from turn 1.
    So yes, they can dump the chinese round.

    1. which is pretty much a carbon copy of malaysias turn 1 isnt it?

  14. Anyone here know any more about the Zhu hai circuit? It’s located not far from Hong Kong (I think an hr by ferry), but still in mainland China, where I believe you would attract a lot of people from. And its even closer to Macao. I went there shortly after it was built many years ago but not sure how much work would be required to bring it up to f1 standards. You might think that would be an odd location but between the populations of HK, Macao and ShenZhen near by, you’d be tapping into a market bigger then Shanghai and a lot more European expats. Just my 2 cents from living in HK back in the day. Keen to know if anyone on here knows more about the circuit.

    1. I don’t know much about Zhuhai other than it once appeared on a provisional F1 calendar, back a while now (perhaps 1999/2000-time?).

      Can’t remember exactly why, I think it might have been a potential replacement for another race…but obviously it never went ahead.

      If anyone else remembers better, please fill in the (big) gaps…

      1. Really slow and tight. I remember it being a bit like TI Aida…

        1. It’s an incredibly boring circuit if you ask me – worse than Shanghai, layout-wise at least. However, looking at the layout it’s hard to see how it could be improved sufficiently. Unfortunately that’s the case with many tracks considered “bad” (and that includes most of the TilkeDromes) – you hate their routes, but it’s almost impossible to make them any better.

      2. According to Wiki, “ZIC was included in the provisional 1999 F1 calendar. But the circuit subsequently lost its place in the calendar due to logistical problems.”

      3. Although the Zhuhai circuit was built with the ambition of hosting F1 races, it didn’t do enough homework and not enough investment to make it F1 ready. But never say never, if there’s ambition and money, it can be renovated.

  15. The Shanghai Sport Official has told the newspaper, that there is a 95% possibility to extent the race for another 14 years with the current price. But the only change they want to make is, they don’t want to pay the extra TV broadcast expenses and the negotiation with Bernie is still running.

  16. Had a look on Google Earth…
    The track looks a bit boring, and not suited for F1 standard (short run off areas with no tarmac, no grandstands, no major access roads…).

  17. Was talking about Zhuhai.

  18. Get rid and bring back Imola imo.

    1. I would get rid of China and have a second race in Italy, GB or Germany.

    2. That’s it! Replace a boring track with another boring track!

      Sorry, but Imola hasn’t been the same since ’95.

      1. Imola may be boring but you be sure that the atmosphere in Imola will be better then in China.

  19. get rid of it. China don’t respect human rights, they kill hundreds of people a year, they are number one in knock-off merchandise, money used for terrorism all over the world. And doesn’t have any history in the sport.

    1. Those highly biaed posts are a bit annoying. Some people like to link sport with politics.Especially if that sport is held in China.
      A bit ridiculous what he has said.
      Keith,you should sometimes control those posts to keep the site clean.

      1. Apart from the terrorist bit though, all of what he said is true (and maybe even the terrorist bit, I don’t know). That F1 should go to places like this for the sake of money is pretty bad to me as an F1 fan, and I think the guy’s made a very valid point, even if you have issues with the presentation.

        Italy might not be corruption-free, but it’s no China. I’m sorry if bringing up what China does is offensive, but they do it.

        1. “That F1 should go to places like this for the sake of money is pretty bad to me as an F1 fan…”

          ??? This is a business. They do everything for money.

          1. This is a business

            Exactly what’s wrong with F1, if even fans say it. F1 is also a business, not “also a sport”.

      2. that’s called censorship. Are you from the chinese goverment?

        1. Hahahaha! funny man! funny man!

          Your post was on the extreme side, not that I nessasarily disagree, but at the very least you should be allowed to voice your biased opinion just as shen is allowed to voice his biased opinion!
          Some people just don’t like fair play do they now? Didn’t you learn that in pre school?

  20. HounslowBusGarage
    13th April 2010, 13:08

    While China might be over-interested in Formula 1, it seems that Mercedes and Audi are hoping the Chinese public will appreciate DTM a bit more.
    The final race of the 2010 season will take place on a street circuit in Shanghai (no track details yet) on 31 October.
    Obviously DTM cars are rather more identifiable with their road cousins than F1 cars, and the two German marques appreciate the importance of the market.
    A race in the city will force the citizens to take some notice – and there are more than 18 million of them in Shanghai.
    Let’s hope it’s a bit more successful than the 2004 exhibition race when an unwelded drain cover was pulled up by one of the cars (Schneider?) and caused the race to be stopped. Paffet was declared the winner.

    1. They had a similar problem in the 2005 F1 race, where one KO-d Montoya’s chances.

    2. V8 Supercars tried that also, in 2006 I think. They held one round at Shanghai, ostensibly to a. attract new fans to the sport thereby increasing TV audiences and b. boost Australia’s export market of V6 & V8 passenger cars to China. About 3 people showed up, the round was a dismal failure and the race was very quickly and quietly dropped from the following years calendar.

      While I can see why F1 might treat China as a ‘loss leader’, I remain unconvinced of the benefits for any other racing category.

  21. Maybe Renault need to promote Ho Pin Tung to a race seat. Then give him all the advantages over his team mate. Then when he becomes sucessful, the grandstands will be packed.

    1. I was thinking along the same lines – isn’t a Chinese driver or two required to get the general interest up in the country?

    2. As a Chinese myself, I couldn’t care less if there is a Chinese driver on the line-up. Tung is never anywhere near an F1 driver. As a fan, I would rather see real talents on the track rather than an mixture of politically correct choices based on demographics.

  22. If it’s not filling up the grandstands like it was supposed to then by all means it should be axed. There’s nothing worse than a race with no atmosphere and we all know only overflowing crowds can provide that.

    But I must say the actual track itself is quite a challenge on rFactor.

  23. Well, everyone complaining about the track being boring should look at Valencia and Barcelona. Now those are snoozefests! The Chinese circuit provides some overtaking opportunities and has a challenging turn 1, unlike the above-mentioned venues and the races there are quite exciting.

    As for Bahrain, which was rated down in one of the previosu articles, I suggest getting a copy of the 2006 race. Would anyone call it boring? If so, you know next to nothing about racing.

    1. It’s this year’s track configuration that was boring. The other races in Bahrain were alright.

  24. This is just a symptom of the larger problem, and no Im not talking about the lack of overtaking. Bernie charges too much for the right to host a GP, which means that in most cases it simply isnt a profitable venture. While this is happening, F1’s marketability is being diminished ever further by many things, but the main reason is arguably the contemptuos treatment of the fans. F1 needs to be much more accessible to viewers and fans. Artificial and gimmicky constraints in the interest of spicing up the spectacle should be removed, technical and sporting regs should be more stable from year-to-year, and new mediums of broadcast (i.e. HD) and access (e.g. a much greater internet presence) should be embraced. Bernie is too old, senile, and greedy to see that F1 can only be healed with a holistic approach and anything else is just a band-aid on a gunshot wound. Forget “improving the show”; how about “improving the sport”?!

  25. I think it would probably be good for Formula One if the Chinese round was dropped. It would clear up space for the new rounds that Bernie is chasing and would take pressure off traditional venues.

    I accept that there is the argument that manufacturers want to market their vehicles in China, but they aren’t exactly getting a lot of publicity racing in front of an exceptionally small crowd, on a circuit which the majority of fans dissaprove of.

    If a grand prix had to take place in China, I would agree with suggestions earlier that the Zhuhai circuit would be good. It looks like a refreshingly simple layout, and would be up to standard with six months work, maybe new grandstands, paddock and infastructure, and extending a couple of gravel traps.

    1. Zhuhai seems to be deal for me. It’s near to both Hong Kong and Macau, and ppl there love racing more than Shanghaiese…

  26. Considering that North America wasn’t “important” enough for FIA/FOM to keep on the calendar a few years back and this is a place that is huge in form of car sales and sponsors (Intel, AMD, HP, UST Global, Mobile 1, CNN, Texaco, Clear, Reuters, AT&T, 7-Eleven) to rack up what current and very recent past sponsors that have North American HQ that I can think of. So to me it just say that FIA/FOM don’t care where the races are based on where the sponsors are located or the markets the sponsors are interested in. Looking from Car manufactures consider that up until 09 US was the biggest Car market in the world and now surpassed by China this doesn’t seem to bare into account either.
    If sponsor/car mfg sales location and interest would really be taken into account by FIA/FOM you wouldn’t expect to see North America to been completely without a race in 2009, and only 1 race in 08 and 10 (in Canada). You would think they would done anything and everything to ensure there was at least 1, 2 if not actually 3 races there.

    So why would China count from sponsor deals, car manufacturer interest or general sponsor interest? Bernie does what Bernie want and put races where he can suck money out of local government and organizers without head to sponsor interest nor fans or else why do we still have Turkey on the calendar? And soon Korea when big China can’t even fill their grandstands.

  27. Honestly speaking, chinese GP is just used to entertain the local people (Shanghai citizen) und chinese. It’s not necesary to take care of other people ‘s feelings. And FIA actually doesn’t care how people or the “real” fans feel. If you think it’s boring, then turn off the TV und don’t watch it. It’s simple. Unless you are in charge of FOM, you can do nothing. So, i wonder why people always complain this and that. If you are a real fan, why don’t work hard and bring your family to attend these GPs? If you sit in an empty grandstand and enjoy watching and hearing F1 with your family, who cares it’ s boring or not?

    1. chinese GP is just used to entertain the local people (Shanghai citizen) und chinese. It’s not necesary to take care of other people ’s feelings.

      Yes it is – millions more people see the race on television worldwide than watch at the track, and the same goes for any other race on the calendar.

      So, i wonder why people always complain this and that.

      This is the first time in a while F1 has gone to a race which doesn’t have a contract for a Grand Prix the following year. It’s certainly worth asking whether F1 will be back again next year – and whether it should be.

  28. The thing about places like China is that they are so incredibly populous, even if you barely scratch the surface of the country’s conscience, you can still reach/add a hell of a lot of people.

    Even if the money is arguably not flowing like expected a small Chinese influence will still inevitably equate to a noticeable factor in things like TV viewing figures, etc…

    It’s all relative, like (purely for example, not relevance) how although Indy was never even remotely full for F1 compared to for the 500 it was still a massive crowd by F1 comparisons.

    1. Wasn’t one of the reasons why Indy never looked full because they didn’t open all the grandstands due to the circuit layout F1 used?

      1. last race in Indy had 100k in the crowd more then some tracks have seating capacity for or max capacity for other tracks. Indy can get in more then 200k not sure exactly the number. First F1 race in Indy had 200k in the crowd. So yeah if you have 200k capacity and only have 100k in attendance it will look a bit empty compared say if you have a track that can have 80k but with 60k in attendance (3/4 full vs 1/2).

        Bring back Indy. I’ll be there for sure.


      Indy might be back. Last year they raced there “only” had 100k crowd which is more then many other tracks can support or as many as they can support the first race but hey it already on it’s 2nd races so I guess they figured this engine will be one of the 2 race engines. But consider they used #1 and #2 in Bahrain, they are already in a bad engine situation unless they can reuse #1 for at least 1 or 2 races.

      1. I’m afraid that article’s a month old and those rumours have been put down since then. Ecclestone thinks Indianapolis is “the wrong crowd and the wrong people”:

        Ecclestone still chasing New York dream

        1. Bummer.. Would been sweet. street races can be fun to watch but most of them allows for little overtaking and a NY race Ecclestone is talking about sounds like another streetrace. Melbourne and Canada are the only two “street races” that allows for good racing with lot of overtaking of the current street races and they are really not true street races. Barcelona is the only race that is not a street race that provides as few overtaking as the current streetraces such as Valencia, Monaco and Singapore. Monaco 9, Valencia 2, Singapore 6 (average dry). It’s interesting I think that Monaco has so many considering it’s so old and very narrow compared to Singapore and Valencia. But I guess the numbers get skewed because of 80’s races that saw a lot more overtaking.

          Personal I hope no more street races are added to the calendar unless there is big chance or guarantee of rain ;)

        2. As much as I enjoyed attending a couple of F1 races at Indy…I’m afraid Bernie is correct. I’ve been to Monaco and the vibe is totally different.

    1. sorry about the double posts seems site is experience issues. I had refreshed between two two big post but the first one didn’t show so wrote it again becuase I thought I might forgotten to submit it before I left for lunch.. Hmmm actually the post with the link and text I wrote BEFORE I left for lunch yet it’s time stamped later… shrug…

  29. Get rid of Bernie Ecclestone, F1 might flourish again.

    1. be patient, he can’t last much longer.

    2. He´ll bury all of us.

  30. I think the point has been made well already: In terms of economy and business, it makes sense to have a Chinese round of the world championship. It’s interesting to see, however, that the race hasn’t been as successful commercially as one could have expected it to be.

    Personally, I wouldn’t miss the track that much, although I think turn one with the ever tightening radius and then the direction change could be considered the most interesting rendition of this modern type of corner.

    1. It’s also a blatant copy of Turn 1 at Malaysia. one of the reasons I’m glad Donington didn’t keep F1 is that the first section was almost the same as the Nurburgring’s. Tilke has little imagaination, it seems.

  31. F1 needs a new track NOT designed by Herman Tilke. Problem solved.

    The man has designed some decent tracks, but the dullness has gone to far. Or have Tilke build a track in a country with actual motor racing interest. France, The States, hell even Scandinavia have more racing interest than any Asian country has shown. I want a world championship of course, but why race in countries that have shown little interest in your product?

    Here’s another thing that gets me. Why go balls to the wall with the track design and architecture? I know appearance is important into drawing in crowds. China’s facilities are incredible, but now there’s a chance they’ll go completely wasted. Make a track, put up some fairly nice seats and if after two years with good sales, then go crazy with the facilities. F1 needs to make this point to the fans, let them know if they show up you’ll make that track beautiful. Of course this will never happen, but with the lack of attendance with the newer tracks it’s worth a try! In order for F1 to be successful in the Asian countries they are going to need to think outside the box.

  32. HounslowBusGarage
    13th April 2010, 20:50

    There was a rumour a couple of years ago that the authorities wanted to move the Grand Prix from Shanghai to Beijing. The supposed venue is a ready paved track next to the Laoshan Velodrome where the Beijing Olympic bike races were held. Have a look at it on Google Maps. It’s got a nice wide start/finish straight, fast turns, slow turns, an infield loop with a hairpin, even chicanes all ready. It’s a nice wide road that winds through a park and goes absolutely nowhere, at the moment I think it’s being used as a driving training centre. It’s about 5 km all round, all it needs are grandstands and pits because the Velodrome medical and media centre are all there.
    This is definitely a race track in waiting. But waiting for what? The Chinese Grand Prix?

    1. It’s not the same one A1 Grand Prix raced on is it – the one where the hairpin was so tight the cars couldn’t get around it?

      1. HounslowBusGarage
        13th April 2010, 23:06

        No, definitely not. That *was* a semi-street circuit where the track went away on one side of a dual carriageway before trying to negotiate a 180 degree turn onto the opposite carriageway in the same way as the Norrisring. But it’s absolutely not this one.
        The real test is to have a look at the Google Maps or Google Earth version for Laoshan Velodrome and then look at the park cicuit/training course. This is a real road course with elevation changes and a variety of corner radii. I’m trying to find the source of the original Chinese reasoning behind building the road. Very roughly it followed the BMX couse from the Beijing Olympics, but the fact that it was then paved (asphalted) and visibly completed leads me to believe that this is an intended Moto GP/Inycar/Formula 1/goodness-knows-what race track.

  33. Get rid of it; Terrible track with poor attendance and viewing time

    1. Poor attendance doesn’t mean there aren’t enough F1 fanatics out there. Actually, they love F1 just as much as u r,if not more.Terrible viewing time? I’m sure Chinese GP is not the only one.

  34. Oh gosh. There are so many things wrong with some of the posts.

    F1 needs four places. China, India, Russia, and of course, America.

    Even if the stands are not full for the first few years, or that there are only three manufacturers, or that the organizers are losing money (FOM should then offer to share in that loss), F1 needs these markets!

    Why? D’uh! Futures. Think snooker, or football.

    How many people in China? 3737756 Billion?

    How many have been to Madrid or Manchester?

    How many have Real or United jerseys?
    68676 Billion?

    I rest my case. The other markets are similar.

    1. We’ve been there for 6 years by this weekend, but crowds have gone down, not up. If anything, we should be focusing on an F1 return to the US rather than China.

    2. That’s assuming a sport can turn up in China and magically make millions in profit. F1 clearly hasn’t done that in China. In the case of football and snooker, there was already a significant, growing support base. Did F1 have one before it started going to China?

      If Aussie Rules football turned up in the glorious untapped market of the UK, would you expect them to sell 30 million team jerseys? They’d be lucky to sell 30.

      In snooker there was a big debate about accepting a bid by a Middle Eastern country to host the world championship instead of the Crucible in Sheffield, England (for a massive payment, of course). Unsurprisingly the idea was blasphemy to many, but others said “why don’t we have a separate tournament there for a few years, and if snooker becomes popular there, we’ll move the world championships?”. What F1 did with China and is continuing to do so in every new country it visits is the former instead of the latter (the equivalent would be GP2/Asia, F2, F3, etc. for a few years to see if there was any interest), and the emptiness of the circuits and the lack of an explosion in support for F1 in these countries is a direct consequence.

      Potential does not equal necessity to exploit or attempt to exploit. And if exploiting markets was the real reason F1 id going to these countries in the first place, then my name’s Bernard Ecclestone.

      1. The Crucible begins, Sat, April 17th.


  35. If the race were to drop off the calendar, I wouldn’t be crying very much…..

    I can understand that the manufacturers and sponsors want to be in a highly-populated and constantly-growing market. But the event appears so unpopular and/or inaccessible to the local population, that I really question if this was the best way to introduce China to F1. For as much as I dislike street races, I must wonder if sending a Grand Prix through Beijing would be a way better idea- at least that way the public is forced to pay attention to some degree.

    For me, the bottom line is MotoGP. I have heard that the Shanghai track was ill-suited to motorcycle racing, and I have no doubt that they will try again in the future, with a much better package in mind. But for now, they have gone in a better direction, and that is quite interesting to me.

  36. @HounslowBusGarage

    Just had a look at that location you suggested outside the velodrome. It would be without doubt the coolest location for a race ever – a kind of parkland circuit in Beijing!

    In all seriousness though, you really could be onto something there, there’s plenty of room to build the paddock and pit lane, and the infastructure is already in place. They wouldnt even have to build run-off; just add monaco style armco at the edge of the circuit!

    If they put on a race there, I wouldn’t even mind if it was a procession with nobody there… :)

    Great Spot!

  37. Now that it’s all arranged for Flavio to take over for Bernie in 2013, he’ll be doing advanced planning on how to increase the show at all the circuits. He’s been spouting off about making the show better for two years. Now he’ll get his chance. He’ll concentrate on important markets like China

    1. Please, say it isn’t so!

  38. Mercedes drew attention to the fact that they sell more S Class executive saloons in China than any other country…

    …and that’s not even counting the number of Mercedes S Class executive saloons that all the Chinese manufacturers sell!

  39. I’m a Chinese from Hong Kong, and like many others, I’m disappointed in the Chinese GP. But my disappointment is a tad different to some of you. Let’s go through each point here.

    1) Circuit: I agree turn 1 is gimmicky, and the circuit is too flat. But I think SIC produces some relatively good races, even in dry conditions. Like this circuit or not, there are overtaking spots, namely the hairpin after the long straight.

    2) Lack of spectators: This is a big problem. And more importantly, even if it’s full house, the atmosphere’s not great. (I’ve been to this race twice, and I’ve been to a few races elsewhere, the atmosphere in SH sucks) This has to do with China & F1 not doing enough to promote and educate the public what F1 is about.

    3) Government money: This race was founded based on Chinese officials throwing tons of money (which there’s plenty in China) to promote Shanghai & China’s image. This is all well and great. But these officials have no clue how to promote and generate interest to the public. They expected by throwing gazillions to Bernie, everything will be fine and dandy.

    Having said all that, let’s discuss some commonly asked questions.

    1) Does F1 need China? Like it or not, the answer is yes. Even for smaller, non-manufacturer teams. Let’s ask Sir Richard does he want to promote his Virgin brand in China via F1? I’m sure he’d say yes in a flash. And this goes the same for small sponsors in the small teams. Does Bernie & F1 need China’s bloated hosting fee each year? Yes, it’s not in his DNA to say no to money, and the teams need this money in the prize pool.

    2) Does China need F1? At the moment, they can live without it. But I think they just don’t know and not done enough to realize the true potential of using F1 to promote their brands, products and image.

    So, here’s what realistically China & F1 needs to do to improve the product.

    1) F1 to actively promote itself in China: I can think of demonstration runs in Chinese cities other than Shanghai. Driver appearances in media events, TV shows, etc. Or even F1 producing their own TV show or documentary highlighting their history and excitement (this all done in Chinese of course)

    2) Change the promoter of the Shanghai race: Simply because some of the original promoters are jailed for corruption! (correct me if I’m wrong).

    3) GP promoter & China’s motorsport association (if there is such a thing) to start promoting junior formulas and youth programs. Look, if India & Malaysia can nurture young drivers, China can too. There are more than enough rich dads and kid dreamers in China.

    4) Chinese brands or auto manufacturers to invest in or sponsor a in a big team, or do something like what Malaysia has done with Lotus. Admittedly, this will take time.

    5) Oh… lastly, here’s what can be done immediately for better marketing… open up TWITTER in China! (Much easier said than done…)

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      14th April 2010, 8:02

      Interesting analysis.
      How much difference would having a Chinese driver in a non-chinese team make?

      1. Well… Karun Chandhok is in a non-Indian team, and look how it stirred up big interest in India

    2. I’ve been there once;Agree w/ the “atmosphere in SH sucks” part,although I’ve never been 2 other circuits.Even watch F1 live on TV with several fans would have a better experience than that. But that’s not because China’s lacking of F1 fanatics.They r just too young 2 affrod the ticket. Of couse,promotion r needed,but it takes time 4 the young F1 fans 2 have the purchasing power.

      1. Good point about ticket prices. I’m sure many will agree the sky high ticket prices globally is crowding out many fans. Especially true in developing countries. But more to the point, there are tons of people in Shanghai who can afford tickets, but ask yourself why are they not coming? Why are they not buying regular price tickets?

    3. Well done, Freeman. I wish I had said that, but I was probably too busy with my thumb in, to come up with anything so clever in my last post.

      You espoused, where I ranted. Kudos.

      1. Thanks for the compliments. Was just trying to rationalize the issues while trying hard not to blame everything on Bernie!

  40. I can’t say I’d be particularly disappointed if Shanghai falls off the calender. It’s symbolic of everything that was wrong with early-2000s F1 philosophy: much too big, much too much money, too similar in look-and-feel to other circuits, not enough consideration towards those who are supposed to use the facilities and generally missing the point of its own existence.

    If China wants to be in F1, it needs to be in there with a smaller-scale circuit with a good junior series roster. Its approach needs to be aimed more towards fans, media and drivers and less towards VIPs and FOM. If the FOM wants F1 to be in China, it needs to be receptive to and encourage these things instead of clinging to the “greed is good” philosophy that’s caused it so many problems over the years.

    Neither party needs the other, but both clearly want it. Just not on the current terms.

    1. Oh, and visa terms that make sense would probably help China’s PR and attendance figures too!

    2. Really good point!

    3. Good point. Agreed China should do a lot more to make F1 fraternity & fans feel warm and welcomed when they visit. Like Joe Saward said, he couldn’t feel the same warm reception he feels in China compared to other new venues like Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and Singapore.

  41. If we’re dropping races on the back of poor crowd attendances…say bye-bye to Turkey as well.

    1. Totally agree, Turkey is an awesome track but I think it has been built in the wrong place.

      1. Imagine a wet Turkey race. Wow that be awesome. It’s a nice track with decent overtaking in the dry but nothing spectacular. How fun would it not to see that track at a different location where we might see colder track condition and rain? ;)

  42. I want to bring one more point
    We are talking about poor attendance,now is the high price of race ticket an issue? Many people who are studying probably don’t have the pocket money to go in a GP even that is happening in his/her own country.

    So unlike they do with Cricket should the ticket price need to come down in other words someone have to convinced Bernie to get less money from the track or Grand prix organizer.

    1. “someone have to convinced Bernie to get less money”

      talk about your all time impossible tasks!!

  43. Why can’t tracks at a given location be designed by a fixed cost competition, with the winner judged by fans, drivers and the FIA?

    That way we can let Bernie have the race where he wants and we can make Tilke think a bit harder before just copy and pasting.

    1. I do sometimes have some optimistic thinking which are out of this world.
      But have to say that I liked your idea, do Tilke have a contract with FOM or FIA that he will designed racing tracks for F1 for certain period of time?

      As far I remember that the track in Singapore was designed by the same people who designed the track in Australia in Melbourne.

      1. Tilke made a design for Singapore this design was modified by KBR. As for Australia this is a very old track and dating back to the 50’s and undergone modifications over the years whom done those I am not sure but I would be surprised if they where the same people that did Singapore.

  44. Shanghai can hold around 200,000 spectators , everyone can have a seat. There are 3 no seat areas . You can see that the main grandstand is huge.
    Silverstone has a capacity of 90,000. If half of the seats in Shanghai are empty, it still has 100,000 spectators.
    Still poor attendance?
    I highly recommand you to attend Shanghai GP, to see the fact by your own eyes. Watching F1 in Tv is always boring.

    1. It’s not about how many it holds, or how many spare seats there are. It’s about how many actually pay to get in. Or indeed are brought in by bus to make the place look fuller.

      But I would like to see some stats on crowd sizes, that’s for sure…

      1. Brought in by bus? Yes, they did that for school children on Friday or Saturday. It’s free.School activity.
        Or do you mean shuttle bus?

    2. ANyone knows a good site showing the race by race attendance figures? I found some but they are very incomplete or just have figure for a single race and many mention figures from many years past. 07 Shanghai had 140k, compare this to MotoGP that didn’t put Shanghai on the calendar for the provisional 09 schedule due to…. over crowding..
      MotoGP and V8 SuperCars have in the past attracted crowds of over 250,000 spectators.
      Best I seen for F1 is 140k in 06. Recent years don’t seem to been better and a lot of free ticks and military/students been brought in to fill up seats allegedly.
      Why can MotoGP and V8 Supercars draw such a crowd in China when F1 can’t? Ticket Price? Promotion?

      1. Ok,another funny guy. This time , you say military. HAHA. I will not be surprised that some guys say: You see, Chinese brought dogs/cats to fill the grandstand.

      2. F1 in Shanghai has the same crowd. But even though 140k people attended in the circuit, there are still 60k empty seats. So many TV audiences say that’ s poor attendance. This is the reason. People should see things a bit deeper and not be misled by surface.

        1. Mark, I’ll try to find out for myself this weekend. But based on what I’ve heard from Chinese friends… let’s just say that crowds won’t be an issue.

          And one more thing – when someone has to go to such lengths as to convert one entire set of grandstands into a giant billboard, that’s never a good sign, is it?

  45. As a Chinese…and live in Shanghai…have been to Chinese Grand Prix twice and planning for the third time…
    I have to say I don’t like this track but it’s not so bad as Spain’s two circuits so it should stay in Formula one.
    Snooker is popular in china just because we have Junhui Ding and some talented young guys…
    And most importantly…you guys have to know that a sport’s future in China is mainly hold on CCTV – China Central Television.
    And the Formula one commentators of CCTV are absolutely the stupidest human beings in the world…They damaged Formula one’s image in china quite badly…
    They know nothing about Formula one and…I cannot describe their idiocy with my limited english writing skill…If any of you is learning chinese…do not watch CCTV’s Formula one coverage…
    China needs a chinese driver but that is not going to happen because formula drivers in china currently if my memory is correct…no more than 20…
    Yes China has already overtaken United states to become the largest car market in the world but…motor-racing…we still have a long long way to go.

    1. HounslowBusGarage
      14th April 2010, 20:12

      “absolutely the stupidest human beings in the world”. Very nice description!

    2. Sean? Move to Toronto, Canada. You can speak Chinese amongst me and my pals, all you want. I’ll be the white guy that does not understand you and my pals! lol

      You should be around when we play snooker. They have taught me to swear in Cantonese, and I, have taught them German swearing.

      Imagine a Macau or HK lad missing a shot and then swearing in German!


      Can not print the various Chinese words I say, when I miss. ;)

      1. I will come to Rochester in September for college~It’s pretty close to Toronto~

  46. Many tickets were bought by corporations or sponsors. They organized their empolyees to watch races. So, you saw the buses, maybe they belong to these companies. I’ve cheched the statistics, 70% tickets were bought by private spectators and 30% by corporations.

  47. I can imagine, many people here think even though there are some spectators, they are brought by goverment. Ok, that ‘s ideal. I hope once i can be brought in, haha, free tickets and free transportation. Too fantastic. Even though I am treated like animals, I will still do so.
    Some guys here are really very funny. They’ve never been to Shanghai GP and still act like some experts or insiders.

  48. Want to share an off-topic experience…

    As much as I didn’t like the atmosphere and experience while I twice visited the Shanghai GP, I experienced a euphoric moment while seated in the main grandstand in Qualy at the inaugural Chinese GP in 2004.

    Remember this was the height of the Schumi snore-fest, and I’m not a fan of this guy’s antics to say the least. It was the 1 lap qualifying format if I remember correctly.

    As I watch the red car with the red helmet got a tad out of shape and aggressive coming out of the last corner to start his flying lap, he zooms past the grandstand for his lap. The packed grandstand cheers him on (this is China’s first GP, naturally and to my disgust, Schumi’s the guy who’s most famous to these new fans). Then in Turn 1, he went in hot, slowly got out of shape, then oh my god…. he got sideways, oh wait he spun! On to the gravel he goes! And this happened right in front of my eyes! Couldn’t believe it!

    The whole grandstand was quiet, all eyes wide open, I could hear some groans and “eh…?” Then I popped up right onto my feet, fists punching the sky, jumping up and down, out comes the roars “YEAH!!! YEAH!!! YES!!! Woohoo!” I must’ve been bouncing like a maniac for like a minute. I swear I was the loudest guy in the now quiet grandstand. Those around me couldn’t figure out what is wrong with this lunatic. Their puzzled stares said it all. I swear I couldn’t help it, not when my anti-hero’s car was always bullet-proof, and he never qualified so down in the grid since god knows when. And I got to see all this with my very own eyes.

    That’s all… To the eyes of the tifosi, I am an idiot. Easy on the hate mail ok?

  49. Keith, please create a page on what you think should be the F1 calender for 2011 and ask fans to put in their ideal F1 2011 calender

  50. Pilgrim Father
    8th November 2010, 5:22

    There are better places to hold F1 than China

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