Chinese Grand Prix in doubt for 2011

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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131 comments on Chinese Grand Prix in doubt for 2011

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  1. Journeyer said on 13th April 2010, 10:18

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

  2. Journeyer said on 13th April 2010, 10:20

    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.

  3. xabregas said on 13th April 2010, 10:34

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

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

    • explosiva said on 13th April 2010, 19:32

      LOVE the sarcasm.

      For real, though? Good riddance.

    • David A said on 13th April 2010, 20:09

      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.

  4. David B said on 13th April 2010, 10:46

    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.

    • Prisoner Monkeys said on 13th April 2010, 11:19

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

      • 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.

    • Icthyes said on 13th April 2010, 19:06

      ‘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.

    • ajokay said on 13th April 2010, 12:47

      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.

    • TomD11 said on 13th April 2010, 15:23

      “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. steph said on 13th April 2010, 11:04

    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

    • iBlaze said on 13th April 2010, 12:00

      “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. antonyob said on 13th April 2010, 11:17

    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. Untitled258 said on 13th April 2010, 11:21

    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. wasiF1 said on 13th April 2010, 11:31

    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.

    • James_mc said on 14th April 2010, 12:45

      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.

      • wasiF1 said on 14th April 2010, 13:20

        @ 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. 3 Wheels said on 13th April 2010, 11:44

    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. Patrickl said on 13th April 2010, 11:48

    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. Vikas said on 13th April 2010, 11:53

    Why would India like that?

  13. Bebilou said on 13th April 2010, 11:53

    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.

  14. Andrew G said on 13th April 2010, 12:12

    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.

    • Robert McKay said on 13th April 2010, 12:33

      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…

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th April 2010, 12:47

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

        • Stealthman said on 14th April 2010, 11:04

          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.

      • Tom L. said on 13th April 2010, 15:29

        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.”

      • Freeman said on 14th April 2010, 3:57

        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. Mark Shen said on 13th April 2010, 12:28

    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.

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