Chinese Grand Prix F1 Travel Guide
Shanghai International Circuit
Hosting it’s first race in 2004, the Shanghai International Circuit was the second ‘from scratch’ F1 circuit of the now ubiquitous Herman Tilke template. The circuit soon earned a reputation as a venue that delivered lackluster races, though there have been plenty of exceptions over the years.
From an F1 spectators point of view the venue offers a lot on some fronts while disappointing on others. The atmosphere at the circuit can be something akin to an accountants convention with little to ramp up the sense of occasion and make it truly memorable. There is little in the way of side shows and off circuit entertainment and even the usual array of food and beverage stalls are a poor offering compared to most other venues.
Putting all that aside, the actual views of the circuit are exceptional. This modern facility, has been designed from the ground up to give F1 fans a visual feast that few other circuits can. From the the top tiers of the main grandstands fans can take in a view of nearly the entire track, even when Shanghai’s often hazy skies might try and ruin it for you.
Shanghai itself is often too busy to notice there’s a Grand Prix going on in it’s suburbs and the race weekend revelry doesn’t envelope the whole city as is the case in other city F1 destinations but the place is none the less a fascinating and at times awe-inspiring place to spend a few days.
A Capitalist on Every Street Corner
Though still communist, China embraced free market economics in the 1980s and nowadays you’ll find an eager capitalist on every street corner in Shanghai.
The circuit is no exception and should you get frustrated by the venue’s usually dismal collection of food and drink outlets you might find what you’re looking for through the circuit’s perimeter fence.
Hawkers gather to flog bottles of water, corn on the cob, kebab sticks and even cans of Tsingtao beer at their captive market. They are about double the price you’d pay elsewhere in the city but still very reasonable prices for a Grand Prix.
When F1 usually visits, Shanghai is on the cusp of summertime. One day you might be comfortable in your short trousers and the next you’ll be digging out your winter jacket.
I’m Danny, an incurable Formula 1 fan for over 30 years and founder of The F1 Spectator. My aim is to inform and inspire, arming you with helpful tips and advice for your next F1 trip.