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

  1. David B said on 13th April 2010, 12:42

    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…).

  2. David B said on 13th April 2010, 12:43

    Was talking about Zhuhai.

  3. Bryan M said on 13th April 2010, 12:49

    Get rid and bring back Imola imo.

    • Bartholomew said on 13th April 2010, 18:51

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

    • YeaMon said on 13th April 2010, 19:12

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

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

      • wasiF1 said on 14th April 2010, 13:22

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

  4. kowalsky said on 13th April 2010, 13:01

    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.

    • Mark Shen said on 13th April 2010, 15:12

      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.

      • Icthyes said on 13th April 2010, 19:14

        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.

        • “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.

          • Icthyes said on 14th April 2010, 14:32

            This is a business

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

      • kowalsky said on 13th April 2010, 19:35

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

        • Touche, Kowalksy.

        • Mike said on 15th April 2010, 17:21

          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?

  5. HounslowBusGarage said on 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.

    • David A said on 13th April 2010, 20:15

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

    • 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.

  6. 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.

    • DGR-F1 said on 13th April 2010, 15:39

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

    • arale said on 13th April 2010, 20:11

      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.

  7. KevRS said on 13th April 2010, 15:17

    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.

  8. 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.

    • David A said on 14th April 2010, 3:14

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

  9. Hallard said on 13th April 2010, 15:34

    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”?!

  10. Zazeems said on 13th April 2010, 15:37

    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.

    • arale said on 13th April 2010, 20:13

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

  11. macahan said on 13th April 2010, 15:56

    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.

  12. Mark Shen said on 13th April 2010, 16:46

    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?

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th April 2010, 22:46

      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.

  13. Robert McKay said on 13th April 2010, 16:58

    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.

    • 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?

      • macahan said on 13th April 2010, 21:34

        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.

    • macahan said on 13th April 2010, 22:17

      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.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 13th April 2010, 22:48

        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

        • macahan said on 14th April 2010, 16:12

          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 ;)

        • donwatters said on 14th April 2010, 17:28

          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.

    • macahan said on 13th April 2010, 22:20

      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…

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

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