The penultimate race of the 2007 Formula 1 World Championship takes place this coming weekend at the Shanghai International Circuit.
This year will mark the fourth running of the Chinese Grand Prix, which due to its positioning towards the end of the season, has often seen exciting racing as Championship battles are drawn to a close.
With two races remaining and 20 World Championship points to be won, Lewis Hamilton has 107 Drivers' World Championship points, 12 ahead of Fernando Alonso, who has 95. Kimi Raikkonen lies in third place with 90 points. Lewis's win in Japan saw him become the first driver in the history of Formula 1 to reach the 100 point mark in only 15 races.
Following this weekend's race, Formula 1 will travel to Interlagos for the final race of the season. The Brazilian Grand Prix takes place on Sunday 21st October.
Where will the repairs take place to Fernando's car prior to the Chinese race?
As the Japanese and Chinese Grands Prix are back to back races, a replacement chassis (MP4-22 01) was despatched from the McLaren Technology Centre on Sunday 30th September for China. This chassis will become the spare, with Fernando using the spare chassis from Japan as his race car (MP4-22 03). Fernando's damaged car was sent back due to significant damage to the chassis, which is not reparable at the track.
When was the Shanghai International Circuit constructed?
The circuit was purpose developed for the first Chinese Grand Prix in 2004, taking 18 months to build. Located to the northeast of Shanghai, it is located near Anting Town in the Jiading district. The venue covers an area of just over 2.5 square kilometres and was designed to create dramatic racing and to provide first class facilities for the teams and spectators.
The track was modelled on the Chinese symbol 'Shang' which represents 'above' or 'high'. Prior to the opening of the track International racing in the People's Republic of China was focused on street circuits. The most recent example was the first international race in Shanghai itself in July of 2004, when the DTM series took to the streets of the city centre.
Why is the Chinese Grand Prix important for Mercedes-Benz?
Not only is China one of the most important markets for automobiles worldwide; the Grand Prix in Shanghai is also of great importance as DaimlerChrysler has been manufacturing models of the Mercedes-Benz E-Class in China since December 2005. In addition, DaimlerChrysler opened a new plant there one year ago, which is able to produce up to 25,000 Mercedes-Benz E- and C-Class cars per year.
"My retirement in Japan has not made it easy for me in the Championship, but there are still 20 points to be won and I am going to fight hard for each one of them. There is always a lot of talk of pressure and distractions at this time of the year, all I think about is racing and winning at Shanghai and Interlagos. We are all focused on this aim and giving the maximum over the next few weeks."
"I like to race at the Shanghai circuit, it is new but it has character, although I have mixed memories from the track. Last year was a frustrating race, whereas in 2005 I won. I hope to repeat this result this weekend! The track is very wide and has been designed to allow overtaking."
"Slipstreaming along the main back straight and then passing into the first corner is one of the main chances. You have to make sure you have as much momentum as possible when you exit turn 13, so mechanical grip is as important as making sure we have a competitive top speed."
"We are going into these races with a really tight Drivers' battle with only 12 points between me and Fernando. Anything is still possible but I am feeling confident and very determined and I hope we will have another couple of exciting races. There has been a lot of talk over the last couple of days about the Championship, but I just push that to the back of my mind. I am only focused on the next two races and doing the best I can in China and Brazil with the team."
"The last two races of this season are at tracks that I have not ever been to before. I don't see that as a problem, as this has been the case on four occasions already this season, at Melbourne, Montreal, Indy and Fuji and I was on the podium at all these races."
"From what I understand of the Shanghai circuit, it is very vast in comparison with Interlagos, so we will probably have two quite different races. Everything is too tight for me to predict what will happen, but the races in China always seem to be exciting and I feel well prepared to take on the challenge."
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:
"To have both Lewis and Fernando going into the final two races of the season with an opportunity to win the World Championship is a fantastic situation for the team. Whilst Lewis is clearly in a stronger position, it is by no means over for Fernando and we are going to have two very motivated drivers in China."
"Japan was the first race where two Vodafone McLaren Mercedes cars did not take the chequered flag. This demonstrates the competitiveness of the team this season, and we aim to maintain that level of performance this weekend in China."
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"The Chinese Grand Prix has a lot of challenging aspects for the team. In Shanghai, Lewis will be able to win the World Championship; however, on the other side if he can produce the appropriate result Fernando will be able to reverse the situation and to keep his title hopes alive until the final race in Brazil."
"Of course, we always have to watch out for Kimi who still has the chance to clinch the World Championship title. The team members will go into this possibly decisive Grand Prix as focussed as into the previous 15 races, and they will do everything to ensure both Lewis and Fernando will have the best opportunities to win."
"Prior to the 16th Grand Prix of the year the World Championship is still exciting and open, although Lewis now has a significant advantage after he won in Fuji last weekend whilst Fernando retired. Both the drivers will have the same equipment and support; we obviously hope that the Formula 1 World Championship will be decided on the track under the same conditions - tough, fair and without crashes."