Formula 1 Grand Prix makes roaring comeback

By SHI FUTIAN in Shanghai | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2024-04-22 07:04
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Racers prepare to leave the grid for the formation lap before the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix at the Shanghai International Circuit on Sunday. CLIVE MASON/FORMULA 1/GETTY IMAGES

The deafening roar of engines and the thunderous applause from packed stands at the Shanghai International Circuit bore testimony to how warmly the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix was welcomed over the weekend by motor sports enthusiasts, as the high-octane racing event made a comeback after five years.

Speed, passion and intense wheel-to-wheel battles wowed spectators for three days at the F1 circuit, where Max Verstappen of Red Bull Racing converted his pole position into victory on Sunday. McLaren's Lando Norris and Red Bull's Sergio Perez finished second and third, respectively.

"It felt amazing," Verstappen said after winning the race. "All weekend I think we were incredibly quick. It was just enjoyable to drive every single tire compound as well. The car was basically on rails, I could do whatever I wanted to with it, and those kinds of weekends are of course amazing to feel. Then, to achieve what we did this weekend is fantastic."

This year's Chinese GP was particularly popular, as fans waited for five years for its return since 2019, when F1 staged its 1,000th grand prix in China. It also marked the 20-year anniversary of the event's debut in China in 2004.

According to media reports, more than 200,000 people visited the Shanghai International Circuit over the past three days. Among them, 80 percent were not Shanghai residents and 10 percent were from foreign countries and regions.

In early January, the tickets for this year's Chinese GP were sold out within a few minutes of the booking window opening. In comparison, the event had attracted about 160,000 people over three days in 2019.

Not just Chinese motor sports fans, but the entire F1 community has been excited about the event's return to China.

"I love this place. The circuit is very challenging, Turn 1 being the most special corner, very unique in the championship. (There are) lots of overtaking opportunities. So good racing," said F1 world champion Fernando Alonso of Aston Martin.

Charles Leclerc of Ferrari said: "I have only raced twice here. But it's always been a very, very interesting track. Very nice track to drive on, and a track where there are many, many different lines possible. And all those long corners — there are different ways of taking those corners, which makes it exciting for us."

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