Chinese Grand Prix: Can Mercedes continue their recent dominance in Shanghai?

Shanghai Grand Prix
Almost 150,000 people attended the weekend of the Chinese Grand Prix in 2017
Chinese Grand Prix on the BBC
Dates: 13-15 April. Circuit: Shanghai International Circuit.
Coverage: Practice, qualifying and race across BBC Radio 5 live sports extra and online. Live text commentary, leaderboard and imagery on BBC Sport website and app.

It is two wins out of two for Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel at the start of the 2018 Formula 1 season.

But there is no need for world champion Lewis Hamilton or Mercedes fans to be distraught as the F1 campaign heads off next to China, a track where the Briton has had great success.

Hamilton has won five times in China, while Vettel's only victory there was way back in 2009 when he was racing for Red Bull.

When the Shanghai International Circuit was completed in 2004, before its first race later that year, it was the most expensive Formula 1 circuit facility, costing $240m.

However, Abu Dhabi then became the most expensive at $6bn when it opened five years later. The Shanghai track is 5.451km long and features one of the trickiest corner combinations on the F1 calendar.

It is a track where Mercedes have been dominant in recent times, winning five of the past six races, including the last four. Hamilton won there last season, his fifth success in Shanghai, three of his wins coming for Mercedes and the other two when he was at McLaren.

Fernando Alonso has won there twice - in 2005 and 2013 - and both current Ferrari drivers have been on the top step in China, Kimi Raikkonen in 2007 and Vettel two years later while a Red Bull driver.

The circuit

Shanghai
The Chinese Grand Prix has been held 14 times, every year since 2004

The history

What happened in 2017?

In the second race of last season, Lewis Hamilton led from the front to win with Sebastian Vettel second and Max Verstappen moving up from 16th on the grid to finish third, holding off a challenge from his Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo.

Hamilton's team-mate Valtteri Bottas had a chastening day, spinning behind the safety car in the early stages and dropping back to 12th, from which he recovered to finish sixth, with Kimi Raikkonen in fifth spot.

Fernando Alonso, who drove a strong opening lap to have the uncompetitive McLaren-Honda up into eighth place, ran seventh for much of the race and was on course to finish there when his driveshaft failed shortly after half distance.

Antonio Giovinazzi, who had also crashed on the Saturday, made it two crashes in two days after losing control of his Sauber on the start-finish straight and going into the wall.

Sauber
This was Antonio Giovinazzi's second grand prix - he has not taken part in any grands prix since

Back-pocket facts

  • The direct translation of Shanghai is 'above/upon the sea', which alludes to the city's location along the Yangtze River Delta near the South China Sea.
  • Shanghai is one of the world's largest cities with a population of about 25 million people. It also contains the world's busiest container port.
  • Shanghai is one of the biggest financial centres in the world, but that was not always the case. Before the 1842 Treaty of Nanking the city was a fishing and textiles town.
  • A wet race? Well, maybe as it rains one third of the year, with an average of 12 out of 30 rainy days each April. There was a wet start to last year's race.
Shanghai Tower
The Shanghai Tower is the second tallest building in the world, standing at 2,073 feet / 632 metres, but well below the Burj Khalifa in Dubai which stands at 2,717 feet / 828 metres.

How to follow on BBC Sport

BBC Sport has live coverage of all the season's races on BBC Radio 5 live, BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, plus live online commentary on the BBC Sport website and mobile app - including audience interaction, expert analysis, debate, voting, features, interviews and video content.

All times BST and are subject to change at short notice.

Chinese Grand Prix coverage details
DateSessionTimeRadio coverageOnline text & audio commentary
Thursday, 12 AprilPreviewPodcastBBC Radio 5 live
Friday, 13 AprilPractice02:55-04:35BBC Radio 5 live sports extraFrom 02:30
Practice06:55-08:35BBC Radio 5 live sports extrafrom 06:30
Saturday, 14 AprilFinal Practice03:55-05:05BBC Radio 5 live sports extraFrom 03:30
Qualifying06:55-08:05BBC Radio 5 live sports extraFrom 06:00
Sunday, 15 AprilRace06:30-09:00BBC Radio 5 liveFrom 05:30
Monday, 16 AprilReview04:30-05:00BBC Radio 5 live