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Classic Chinese Grands Prix

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Andrew Benson | 08:59 UK time, Thursday, 9 April 2009

This is only the sixth year in the short history of the Chinese Grand Prix so the event was always going to struggle when it came to our classic races series.

But actually, although there have only been five races there, the Shanghai track has hosted some enjoyable battles.

In 2004, the first three drivers across the line were covered by less than 1.5 seconds as Rubens Barrichello secured his last win for Ferrari and held off Jenson Button's BAR and a late-charging Kimi Raikkonen of McLaren.

Although Button's first win before his stupendous start to 2009 was in Hungary in 2006, 2004 was actually his most competitive year.

In China's debut F1 Grand Prix the Englishman had got into second place after making one less pit stop than his two rivals in an unusually close finish for a season that was generally dominated by Ferrari.

The 2005 race was won by Fernando Alonso - one of two brilliant drives by the Spaniard at the end of his first world championship season.

Alonso had won the title in Brazil with two races still to go and he really cut loose once it was in the bag.

Jenson Button in action in Shanghai in 2008

He was brilliant in Japan, the race before China - and an event that will certainly be in our top five when it comes to the Japanese leg of this series - and dominated in Shanghai, the final race of the season, to prove just what a worthy champion he was.

That race was also the final one in the history of two distinguished teams - Minardi and Jordan - before they were taken over by new owners.

Alonso was also in the battle for victory in China in 2006, when it was the last race but two.

But he lost out to Michael Schumacher's Ferrari, partly thanks to some dodgy strategy calls, and the German took over the championship lead with his victory in mixed conditions.

It was a bitter season riven by political disputes between Ferrari and Renault - and consequently many felt it would have been an injustice if Schumacher had won an eighth title.

But it turned out all right for Alonso in the end, though, as Schumacher's Ferrari suffered a rare engine failure next time out in Japan, and Alonso only had to cruise to a comfortable points finsh in Brazil to win his second title.

But it was 2007 that saw probably the best Chinese Grand Prix yet in my estimation.

Lewis Hamilton entered the penultimate race of a stunning debut season with the title in his grasp.

But a quite catastrophic mix-up by Hamilton and his McLaren team - rooted in arrogance and misguidedness - saw him slide off into retirement going into the pits.

Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen and Fernando Alonso, Hamilton's team-mate, finished one-two and the title battle went to the final race - where another problem for the Englishman handed the crown to Raikkonen.

In this context, last year's race is unlikely to be picked - Hamilton dominated from the start - but there was at least a brief dust-up between Alonso, by now back at Renault, and Hamilton's new team-mate Heikki Kovalainen to liven up the first lap.

So let me know what you think should be chosen as our best classic Chinese Grand Prix - and we will publish the highlights next week.


  • Comment number 1.

    My vote is for the 2006 Chinese GP as it set up a really tense battle between Schumacher and Alonso at Suzuka, however 2007 cannot be topped for comedy value in my opinion.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'm afraid to say that this is usually a dull race at not especially exhilarating circuit in a country where the fans don't turn up (or have to be shipped in) and the government is increasingly unwilling to pay the extortionate fee. Fingers crossed that this year will be better with the new regulations.

    I will have watched all of the previous 5 but I guess it's a reflection of the event that the only one I can remember is Lewis ending up in the gravel. I'll pick 2004 but mostly just to re-jig my memory that there was a close race that year.

  • Comment number 3.

    2004 and 2007 are the only ones I can remember too! I strongly vote for showing some classics from tracks that aren't going to get a look in this year, but used to be traditional early season visits.

    Imola and Detroit spring immediately to mind, it would be a shame not to see those circuits in a classic year.

  • Comment number 4.

    I have to agree that generally the Chinese GP has been especially dull, and all we are going to get is the 5 minute mini-edit.

    Personally, I'd much rather see highlights of the 1983 US (West) GP..... (You know, where McLaren qualified 22nd and 23rd and came through to win!)

    However, I'd say that the best option from the Chinese GP would be 2005 - simply due to the comedy value of first Schumacher crashing into Albers on the drive round to the grid, and then falling off the track behind the safety car.... Any chance of that perhaps?

  • Comment number 5.

    Not a bad idea, why not have a "Classic Easter GP" weekends. Imola used to fall around this time, so we could see the 05 Alonso-Schumacher duel again. Or rather, for the first time given we missed it originally...

  • Comment number 6.

    2006! Great drive from Schumi and disasterous from alonso with his tyre problems.

  • Comment number 7.

    I'll vote for 2007 as I didn't actually see it but have heard so much about it

  • Comment number 8.

    I might well be bias (I was there to see it happen) but I think the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix has been the best thus far.
    The entire qualifying session had been plagued by abysmal weather and the Ferrari’s were struggling in the wet on the once great Bridgestone tyres.
    It didn’t even look like they’d make it into the top 10, let alone be anywhere near the sharp end!
    The race was Schumacher’s last career victory and in some respects was a microcosm of the never say die attitude he took to racing.
    p.s. I agree with the idea of having a few 'alternative' classics as I can't stand the idea of missing out on races from Canada and Imola.

  • Comment number 9.

    My vote is for the 2006 race. A fantastic drive by Michael Schumacher in tricky conditions and a comedy ending where 2 corners from the end Rubens Barrichello smashed into the side of Nick Heidfeld allowing a couple of drivers to steal some extra points

  • Comment number 10.

    My favs are 2007 and 2004.

    China's not one of my fav circuits but I look forward to the race weekend.

    I also would love to see some alternative classic highlights, would be a great idea for when the Valencia, Singapore and Abu Dhabi weekends come along.

  • Comment number 11.

    My vote is for 2006.

  • Comment number 12.

    I vote for 2004, amazing race, one that was actually competitive. I agree with the classics idea as well. It seems strange to not have a Canadian GP this year and especially as you can't really show just highlights from last year's valencia and singapore races, and you won't have anything for Abu Dhabi, obviously

    BTW I love this classic's highlights blog, more where this came from please!

  • Comment number 13.

    '08 was certainly a great Lewis win, the biggest laugh I remember was from '04 race when some moronic Chinese journo asked Schumacher "why do you wear red?"

  • Comment number 14.

    I'm really torn this week. Schumi's last win in '06 was an amazing drive and was in the heat of a great title fight, I would really like to see this race again but...

    2007 was brilliant. I thought it was all over after Hamilton's Fuji win and Alonso's crash. Then he ended up in the only gravel trap in China. Lol thinking about it still makes me laugh. Was a great moment that kept the title alive.

    Both great races, but I'd prefer to see 2007 again. On China as a circuit though, it's really dull. You only usually get a good race if it rains.

    PS Anyone wanting to relive Hamilton's '07 retirement with the added comic value of Spanish commentary, here's the link:

  • Comment number 15.

    I vote for 2006. Schumacher was absolutely sensational that weekend. He was the only Bridgestone shod driver to qualify in the top 10 and in a stunning drive he won the race. I distinctly remember Schumacher overtaking Alonso and you could hear the crowds cheer at turn 1!

  • Comment number 16.

    Somehow, I think this is going to be a very close poll.
    Despite this I would order the races like this:

    1. China 2006 - Schumacher carving his way through the field to take a highly dramatic final victory. However, Robert Kubica springs to mind for me in this race.

    2. China 2005 - Again, Schumacher causing all the headlines crashing before the start and also spinning out behind the safety car. Can't remember much else from this race, so would be worth seeing video highlights.

    3. China 2004 - Following the trend, again Schumacher stands out in this race. After winning the championship, he had three or four disastrous end of season races (this included). Had to fight through field from back but crashed out? (Can't remember). Anyway, Button did well.

    4. China 2007 - Apart from Lewis Hamilton's pit lane incident, this was actually a pretty dull race. Still two Ferraris and a McLaren on the podium.

    5. China 2008 - Like the previous year except ten times more boring. Hamilton dominated, while the 2 ferrari's squabbled over 2. I'm convinced they should have been disqualified for team orders though. Kovalainen gave up. (so would I had I been team mates to a world beater).

    Can't wait for Spain and Monaco blogs in the next month. Some classic gps there.

  • Comment number 17.

    As others have stated, with some of the newer, duller tracks that never produce good races you should maybe pick an old BBC classic from one of the tracks thats never raced anymore, there's plenty of European, US and South American tracks that have hosted the odd GP - providing you still have the tapes. However, i'm guessing you may leave that Trick to Bahrain as you'll do well to pick a classic from that one.

    However, i guess for the drama of it, Lewis in the gravel in 2007 is my choice.

    Many Thanks

  • Comment number 18.

    It's not a thrilling circuit to be honest and hasn't produced classic racing - but it has produced more hillarious moments than classic moves. Albers and Schumi crashing in 2005, Montoya hitting the drain cover, Hamilton sliding into a gravel trap in the pit lane in 2007 amongst others. If I had to pick I would say 2006 - a strategic error by Renault and Schumi's wet-weather skills left Schumi one win away from the title - until an engine failure next time out gave Alonso one hand on the trophy

  • Comment number 19.

    2006- Schumachers last gp win so its got to be

  • Comment number 20.

    2004 for me.

  • Comment number 21.

    2004 also.

    If I may suggest an idea Andrew, would it be possible to give the fans a choice of having either the 5 minute edits of all Chinese Grand Prixs or else the full race of the chosen one? I realise extended highlights were not an option because of the resources issue, but with little editing to do would the full 90 minute race be possible?
    I'm only looking to present ideas, any edits/highlights would be appreciated.

  • Comment number 22.

    As many have mentioned, this is not a classic gp.

    However, i'm going to vote for 2004.

  • Comment number 23.

    Whatever has gone before and however uninteresting this circuit may be; that is firmly history. 2009 is a breath of fresh air and we have: uncompetitive McLaren, disorganised and uncompetitive Ferrari, BMW not doing what was promised, Renault not cutting the French mustard, Brawn showing that there is nothing like a McLaren Mercedes engine and so it goes on. This could and should be a great China GP.

  • Comment number 24.

    I think in the spirit of the week, we should see more classic cock ups by teams :p

  • Comment number 25.

    With the lack of race action from this GP, bar the odd drain cover popping up or a rain storm, how many more of them do we need, the 2005 race was notable.

    This was the race that, with the exception of the United States GP of that year, i laughed the most. Schumacher crashed into one of the Minardi's, a minor occurance you might think until you think that it was on the lap to the grid. About half an hour before the race was due to start.

    Then, in the race, Schumacher spun off under the safety car. The fact that he kept his helmet on after he had got out of the car is normally a sign that it was a driver error rather than a car problem.

    Not what you might expect of a seven time world champion! Funny though it was!!! My vote goes to the 2005 GP!

  • Comment number 26.

    2007 for definate! ... theres was really tension during the few laps before hamilton slid off!

  • Comment number 27.

    I'm not going to vote here, as I fail to see how (apart from 2006) the Chinese Grand Prix's can be declared as classics. I am almost certain most of the people above would want to see [in extended highlight form where possible (in most cases definitely possible)]:

    - Classic Argentine Grand Prix
    - Classic Austrian Grand Prix
    - Classic Canadian Grand Prix
    - Classic Detroit Grand Prix
    - Classic Dutch Grand Prix
    - Classic Mexican Grand Prix
    - Classic Portuguese Grand Prix
    - Classic San Marino Grand Prix
    - Classic South African Grand Prix
    - Classic United States Grand Prix

    Some of the above contain exactly that: Classic's that many of the above yet we get Chinese Grand Prix's which are not classics. A lot more people would view say, the classic 1995 Canadian Grand Prix where Jean Alesi won for the 1st time in his Ferrari or the 1990 Mexican Grand Prix, which had Mansell's superb pass on Berger around the inside, but instead we get races which are.... boring. 2004 and 2005 China races are not exactly spectacular, whereas last weekend in Malaysia the 2005 race was.... drab.

  • Comment number 28.

    Does this vote have any meaning this week? Malaysia's vote was utterly pointless considering all the choices were shown at roughly the same length.

    I don't want to be too critical since this is still in a different league to what ITV offered, but the vote should actually mean something - even for these shorter edits.

    Nonetheless, China 2006 stands head and shoulders above the rest for me and gets my vote. Schumacher had to defeat both Renaults in a fierce battle to claim his final victory.

  • Comment number 29.

    I'll go for 2006 but not so much for Schumacher's dramatic final win but for the battle for 4th in the closing laps between Button, Barrichello, Heldfeld and De La Rosa which ended very eventfully

  • Comment number 30.

    2007 all the way. wasnt a classic but there haven't been enough chinese races to deem any of them classics. as a track, there's not a lot you can do with former marshland so as far as the races go, if there is some action then at least there will be something else to speak of other than the boring shanghai track.

  • Comment number 31.

    i think i will have to add to the votes for 2006

  • Comment number 32.

    I agree with comment 27. It would be very good if that could happen for this race and others such as Bahrain and Turkey because there has not been a lot of classic races there.
    Also, what classic races are there going to be for races such as Singapore and Abu Dhabi Andrew?

  • Comment number 33.


  • Comment number 34.

    1958 GP OF Gibralter
    Ok, with Ustinov doing a Chinese accent then.


  • Comment number 35.

    Has to be 2004..not saying much for this GP though.

  • Comment number 36.

    2006 is my favourite. It was brilliant to watch the Renault's collapse and see Schumacher pass both of them in quick succession. I'm pretty sure Alonso was overtaken by both Schumacher and Fisichella in the same lap.

  • Comment number 37.

    2006 please just to see Michael win again. However, like others here I'd like to be able to watch some real classics. After all, what are you planning to do with Singapore? A choice of one isn't really a choice is it... and as for Abu Dhabi there'll be no option at all.

  • Comment number 38.

    every grand prix is a classic just some are historic whilst others go quietly into oblivion.
    recent years have been marred by back room objections, teams crying to officials over minor things blowing them out of proportion.
    if the teams continue down this road no race will have a result on the day and fans/ viewers will become bored.
    let the drivers decide it on the track as it should be.
    the likes of senna, prost, hill etc fought it out wheel to wheel why not today.

  • Comment number 39.

    2004 was the best China GP, but that's not really saying much, this track has yet to see a classic race, yes there have been a few great moments. (Oh and your link for the 2004 race takes you to the results for 2005)

  • Comment number 40.

    2006 has to take it, because of the way the pendulum of the race swung multiple times and the great overtaking moves. It's not often you see Michael Schumacher win a race by overtaking people on the track, but the 2006 Chinese GP was one of those rare occasions.

  • Comment number 41.

    1 - 2007 with McLaren's massive cock-up. Incredibly funny now.
    2 - 2005 Had excitement, 2 SC Periods and crashes.

  • Comment number 42.

    2007 has to the best! Just for the comedy point of view, with Hamilton tell the marshalls to push the car!

  • Comment number 43.

    It has to be 2006. From 6th on the grid, it looked unlikely that Schumacher could win. Thats what he needed to do to keep his championship hopes alive.In a drive filled with grit, raw speed and brilliant tactics, Schumacher won!! An incredible victory against all odds....I will never forget that race.

  • Comment number 44.

    I agree with most here. China has unfortunately not seen much eventful GP racing-wise. If I had to pick, it would be 2006 though. I remember it being quite a nice race to watch.

    I tend to request a race at a track which is (unfortunately) not on the current calendar anymore: the 1984 Detroit GP where our commentator Martin Brundle arguably put on his best performance of his career.
    That was a race of pure brilliance and I request to see that one.

  • Comment number 45.

    TobiasStuyts, I've just watched the 1984 Detroit GP and it was an excellent drive by Brundle. The only thing is that James Hunt sounds dead-drunk on it! Quite amusing.

    I'll agree with most people here and say that the Chinese GP's have been quite dull apart from '07. So that's were my vote will go.

  • Comment number 46.

    Hello again, I have decided to vote for 2005 because I thought it was quite an exciting race. However, I would still like to see other classic races that are not on the calendar anymore but at least we are actually getting to see some classic footage which we never used to be able to see!

  • Comment number 47.

    I would have to agree with a Andrew Benson and a few previous posts, in that I would struggle to think of any of the Chineese Grand Prix as classics!

    Indeed, out of all of the chineese races, all I can recall is Mclaren losing the constuctors championship due to Montoya hitting a loose drain cover, and Lewis Hamilton being a bit too keen on his pit lane entry in 2007.

    POST #25 In a similar vein to your reference to Micheal Schumacher in 2005, I seem to remember Lewis keeping his helmet on for a long time after his 2007 pit lane incident as well. It is always a good way to tell when a driver feels himself to be responsible for his retiremnet.

    So without a good reason to choose a specific race I shall abstain from the vote as I would be happy to see any of the old races.

    P.S I am also looking forward to voting on some of the European rounds where there will be a weatlth of races to choose from. Still enjoying this feature Andrew. Thanks for the memories.

  • Comment number 48.

    I will also echo the requests for the classic GP's from tracks we no longer see. I have to say it was more enjoyable watching the classic Aus GP's than it was the Malaysian ones because there was a greater difference between each one age wise. From 1986 to 1994 to 2008 was quite a nice contrast.
    Watching 2006/2007/2008 is not as interesting as the cars and drivers were essentially the same.

    But in this case if I had to vote for a Chinese race I'd like to see 2006.

  • Comment number 49.

    2004 - 3 manufacturers in the top 3. And 3 drivers that, if Ferrari get their act together, could be in with a shot at the title this year.

  • Comment number 50.

    Not a great choice for this track - I agree with previous comments!
    But it would have to be 2004 for me - if I remember right this race was the first indication all season that Schumi might actually be human.
    Though I think in fact the race was made more interesting by Rubens backing off towards the end. I remember Ross Brawn's comments after the race "We asked him to look after the equipment.He looked after it very well..."

  • Comment number 51.

    2005 please, sheerly because i taped the 06 and the 07 races... and because 2008 was dull.

  • Comment number 52.

    2006 Was the best Chinese GP, Schumi drove a stormer in difficult conditions against all the odds and won his final grand prix.

    Great blog aswell :)

  • Comment number 53.

    '04 or '05. Schumi didn't feature strongly at either event, which gave others the chance to shine. That's all the reason I need.

  • Comment number 54.

    I agree that this race is hardly one of the most memorable. It would be a good idea to start showing classics from Austria, Canada, USA, Imola etc.

    For what it's worth, I would nominate 2006 as the best Chinese Grand Prix. It was the most eventful thus far. Schumacher's victory that day was very unpredictable and there was a lot going on behind with Alonso having tyre trouble if I remember correctly. The next best was 2007.

  • Comment number 55.

    I found the 2005 race memorable for

    a) being the last one for the Minardi, Jordan, BAR and Sauber teams before being taken over and renamed.
    b) seeing the Schumi/Albers crash on the formation lap
    c) the fact it took so long to sort out that drain cover and
    d) Hearing Fernando Alonso singing over the radio as he crossed the line to win and make Renault constructors champions. That made me laugh so much!

  • Comment number 56.

    2007 - completely turned the season on its head

  • Comment number 57.

    There are no classic Chinese Grand Prix! I agree with the various other people who have suggested using other classic grands prix such as Donnington 1993.

    The best Chinese Grand Prix was the 2007 race, the smattering of rain, as ever, helped liven things up. It wasn't a classic though.

  • Comment number 58.

    2006 - Schumacher's last win, and one he really didn't have the machinery to win: vintage Schuey

  • Comment number 59.

    By the way I suppose Donington '93 will be an option prior to the European GP at Valencia...? Already can't wait!

  • Comment number 60.

    I think some of you are perhaps forgetting that one of the new additions to the calendar, Valencia is classed as the 'European' Grand Prix, as was Donnington and such like races therefore in theory, when the Valencia GP comes around, as a result of the shortage of 'classic' races there i.e. Last year's WAS NOT! Then maybe the choices will be of all past 'European' Grand Prix's thus including Donnington/Nubergring on the list..?

  • Comment number 61.

    just didnt read the comment above me! haha someone had the same idea..sorry!

  • Comment number 62.

    Some people in these comments have said they want some of the classics from non visited tracks. This would be great to liven up the two 4-5 week summer breaks!

  • Comment number 63.

    Races like Malaysia and China are where the BBC's "clasics" idea is falling apart. The F1 calender has been massively overhauled since '96/97 so that both these races have become well established on the calender but the BBC has no fell-highlight packages for them!

    Maybe next year they'd be better off either bunging the other side some cash for their archives or going at it from a different angle - legendary drivers instead of classic races perhaps?

  • Comment number 64.

    The BBC classics series is a great initiative, and Malaysia, China, Bahrain and Turkey don't make it "fall apart". We'd all like to see some other classic BBC highlights for this round, but if 5 minute edits is what they're offering for this round that's better than we were getting on ITV.

    I hope the BBC stick with classic races and BBC highlights as their main priority, though Murray's top 5 races was a nice clip also.

  • Comment number 65.

    2004. Although none of them have been astonishingly spectacular...

    Also, I'd go so far as to say that the two races so far in 2009 have beaten any previous races on the respective tracks!

  • Comment number 66.

    The Shanghai circuit isn't quite as soul-less as some people accuse it of, though a dry race there like last year's without any safety cars or anything can be very dull.

    I would vote for 2006, as the 3-way lead battle was quite absorbing. If not, then 2007- we've all seen Lewis's gaffe millions of times but one of the things that made the race interesting was Ralf Schumacher's desperate drive- he qualified well, spun at turn 1, recovered through the pack and then spoilt it all by spinning out. That was probably his last chance to stay in F1...

  • Comment number 67.

    You should all be grateful that the Beeb has come up with what is quite a good and refreshing idea. Instead you're just criticising non-stop! I'd advise you all to stop the moaning or you may lose this feature altogether, is that what you want?

    I'd vote 2006. Alonso was cruising to an important victory until he and his team bungled their tyre strategy. Schumacher took full advantage, Fisi showed he wasn't a very good teammate and best of all, we had a thrilling race. 2007 wasn't that interesting once Hamilton had had his problems and retired. 2004 had a close finish but I don't remember all that much action in the race, and 2005 was tedious.


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