Ferrari fever hits China as Formula 1 arrives at the Shanghai International Circuit Sunday (6th June) marked the start of a new era for Chinese motorsport. The opening of the China Circuit Championship in Shanghai reverberated to the thunderous...
Ferrari fever hits China as Formula 1 arrives at the Shanghai International Circuit
Sunday (6th June) marked the start of a new era for Chinese motorsport. The opening of the China Circuit Championship in Shanghai reverberated to the thunderous sound of Formula One as the ribbon was cut on the brand new circuit that will host the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix on September 26th 2004. Shanghai Vice Mayor, Yang Xiaodu was joined by Shanghai International Circuit President Mr Mao Xiaohan, Ferrari Managing Director Jean Todt together with Martin Leach, the CEO of Maserati at the ceremony.
The highlight of the event was the first ever lap by a Formula 1 car in mainland China. The honour fell to the 2003 FIA Formula One World Championship winning Ferrari F2003 - GA and on this momentous occasion it was driven by former Tifosi favourite Gerhard Berger. The Austrian, who spent six years behind the wheel of the world's most famous marque, thrilled the 32 000 jubilant fans that filled over 80% of the allocated seats for the weekend's event.
Four ear-splitting laps brought the sights, sound and smells of F1 to China. It was a magnificent opening day that saw everything from the cut and thrust of touring car racing, with the inaugural round of the six race series China Circuit Championship (CCC), to the fast and furious single-seater action of Formula Renault.
Berger said later what an honour it had been to be chosen to be first to taste the exciting new layout of the Shanghai International Circuit. "It is great to come to the Shanghai Circuit - to see Shanghai and of course to see the circuit first! It is a fantastic circuit and a magnificent experience to be the first to drive a Formula One car around the circuit. It's always a nice experience to do something like this. This is a modern circuit, it is challenging and with great ambiance. I think that everyone will really enjoy racing here!!"
A large slice of glamour was added to the menu with 55 road going Ferraris and Maseratis filling the starting grid for a spectacular parade lap that featured amongst others, Luca Badoer the current test driver for the Ferrari F1 team.
Mr Mao, President of the Shanghai International Circuit, was particularly delighted at the active public response to the opening ceremony and the motorsport that took place at the circuit and looks forward to the day when all 10 Formula 1 teams will negotiate the 14 treacherous turns and blast along the 1175m back straight of the new track.
On the 26th of September 2004 China will become a member of a very exclusive club, part of the most prestigious race series in the world, the FIA Formula One World Championship. If the weekend's evidence is anything to go by every one of the capacity 150 000 tickets is almost guaranteed to be in huge demand.