Formula 1 Grand Prix makes roaring comeback

2024-04-22 08:27:33China Daily Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

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."

Red Bull Racing driver Max Verstappen of the Netherlands celebrates on the podium on Sunday after winning the Chinese Grand Prix. (WEI XIAOHAO/CHINA DAILY)

Another major attraction of this year's F1 Chinese GP was the appearance of China's first ever F1 driver Zhou Guanyu. It was the first time for Zhou, who started his career in 2022 when the Chinese GP was not on the F1 calendar, to compete in front of home fans.

"I'm a little bit emotional, and I have shown all that I can on the track inside the circuit. For me, this is a very exciting weekend with mixed feelings. There are so many fans here to support me. Years ago, it's unthinkable that there will be a Chinese driver in F1 Chinese GP.And now it's me who stands here as a Chinese F1 driver," said Zhou, a Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber hire who finished 14th among 20 drivers.

"Over the past years, I have been through many difficulties. And at this moment, I have released all my pressures. I made some mistakes on the track during the weekend, and I know I can be better. This is my debut at the Shanghai International Circuit, and I'm deeply touched by fans here. They gave us the best atmosphere. I'm so happy," he said.

Zhou said that his dream started in Shanghai and, now, he has returned to the city as an F1 driver."With my own experiences, I want to inspire a new generation of people to give all they have to chase their dreams. Just march forward with great confidence."

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