An introduction to the Chinese Grand Prix

As the number of F1 World Championship Grand Prix cities increase, it wasn't going to be long before a Chinese Grand Prix entered the calendar for Asia. In October 2002 FIA announced that Shanghai had signed a seven year contract to host F1's Chinese Grand Prix. This will add to the already existing Malaysian Grand Prix and long-standing Japanese Grand Prix in Asia. The number of Asian F1 fans continues to grew each year, especially among the young Chinese, for whom owning their own car now is a reality, and adding the dazzling city of Shanghai to the F1 line-up will no doubt increase the exposure of F1 exponentially.

Initially, the F1 circuit was to be located in the city of Zhuhai in Guangdong Province, southern China. The government had spent more than nine years in developing a racing circuit there and was originally scheduled to join the F1 World Championship calendar in 1998, but the track failed to meet international standards and subsequently went bankrupt in 1999. The second time around, the Chinese were going to do it right. They promptly signed a cooperation agreement with the organizers of the Macau Grand Prix, which has a 50 year racing history, to learn about organizing and developing a race track.

The 2004 season will see the first ever Chinese Grand Prix, at the Shanghai International Circuit. This circuit was designed to be one of the cutting-edge F1 circuits in the world and incorporates many of the most modern technologies, as well as important Chinese symbolism. For the Chinese, as with most Asians, symbolism is an important aspect of life and this is no different at the Shanghai International Circuit. The track itself was designed in the shape Chinese symbol 'Shang', which symbolizes 'high' or 'above'.

The racing complex has four gates which provide the stunning architectural focus of the area. The main grandstand is flanked by two red towers, which will symbolically 'guard' the guests, like the two traditional Chinese lions you see in front of many Chinese buildings. The colors red and gold are important choices and are present throughout the circuit design. They represent good luck and power in Chinese symbolism. Water, is another important factor, and is present at the circuit in the form of a lake, around the team buildings. Water, just as in the now popular interior decorating methodology feng shui, promotes tranquility and reflection. In fact, the team buildings, or rather pavilions, have been designed to resemble the famous ancient Yuyan Garden in Shanghai. The F1 drivers and teams will be competing amidst these very auspicious symbols for the first Chinese Grand Prix.

For the city of Shanghai, simply hosting the F1 Grand Prix was not enough and in July 2003, it announced the launch of its own motor racing team, which it eventually hopes to race on the F1 circuit. The Guangdong based racing team, Formula Racing Development, which was established there for the initial F1 circuit, has agreed to move its operations to Shanghai. The team will race as Shanghai FRD and currently competes in the Asian Formula Renault Challenge and Formula Campus. The aim is to become China's first F1 team.