Chinese Grand Prix Betting

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The Chinese government began planning for their country’s inaugural Grand Prix event in the 1990s. They selected the city of Zhuhai in Guangdong Province, southern China as the site for a purpose-built raceway and contracted with the FIA to add the Zhuhai International Circuit to the 1999 F1 World Championship calendar. As it turned out, however, the track failed to meet certain standards for Formula One racing and it was dropped from the schedule.

Fortunately, China gained a great deal of expertise in Grand Prix race organising when the Portuguese colony of Macau reverted to Chinese rule in December of 1999. The territory’s Gula Circuit had hosted F3 events since 1954, and it was widely seen as a stepping stone in the careers of drivers who had F1 aspirations, hosting a young Brazilian named Ayrton Senna in the 1980s and such rising stars as Michael Schumacher of Germany and Mika Häkkinen of Finland in the 1990.

With Macau’s help, the city of Shanghai began planning its own F1 circuit. Famous racecourse architects Hermann Tilke and Peter Wahl were hired to design a track that would exceed FIA requirements. They created Shanghai International Circuit in the shape of the Chinese character “shang,” which stands for “high” or “above,” and they added team buildings arranged like pavilions in a lake to resemble the ancient Yuyan-Garden in Shanghai. A main grandstand with 29,000 seats was installed to provide a spectacular view of almost 80 percent of the circuit. When the 5.4-kilometre speedway was completed in 2004, it was the most expensive Formula One circuit facility ever constructed, costing some $240 million.

Meanwhile, the management of the Shanghai International Circuit negotiated a seven-year contract with Formula One Management to host the Chinese Grand Prix from 2004 through 2010. With the China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation “Sinopec” serving as sponsor, the event made its debut on 26 September 2004 as the 16th leg of an 18-race season. The winner of that inaugural edition was Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello of Brazil, who crossed the finish line after 59 laps just a second ahead of Britain’s Jenson Button. Meanwhile, Schumacher, who finished 12th, set a single lap record of 1:32.238 that has stood till this day.

In 2005, the Chinese Grand Prix was placed last in the F1 season schedule and Spain’s Fernando Alonso took not only the checkered flag but also the World Championship crown for himself and the Constructor’s Title for Renault. The following year, Alonso narrowly missed repeating his performance when Schumacher beat him to the finish line—the German’s last victory in Formula One racing. Then, the 2007 edition saw Alonso come in second to Finland’s Kimi Räikkönen.

Not long after Britain’s Lewis Hamilton won the 2008 installment, a Chinese official hinted to the BBC that it might be the last Chinese Grand Prix run at the Shanghai International Circuit. The race was losing money, and Sinopec had ended their sponsorship. But the forecast turned out to be wrong, and on a rainy day in April 2009, Germany’s Sebastian Vettel became the race’s sixth champion. Then, in a light April rain the following year, Button avenged his loss in the inaugural race to outrun his compatriot Hamilton to the checkered flag by a little over a second.

By the end of the 2010 race, the Chinese government had still not decided whether to extend its initial contract with FIA. Reports were that they demanded a reduction in fees required by the F1 commissioners. Negotiations dragged on into 2011, and it was not until the last moment, in February, that a deal was struck to continue the Chinese Grand Prix through 2017. It also helped that a new title sponsor was found in the form of Switzerland’s global financial services company, UBS. The real beneficiary of the continuance turned out to be driver Lewis Hamilton, who would become the first two-time winner of the Chinese Grand Prix in April 2011 by beating Vettel to the post.

The 2012 installment was won by German driver Nico Rosberg in a Mercedes, denying runner-up Button his second victory by more than 20 seconds. Then in 2013, the Chinese Grand Prix came full circle as Italy’s Alonso outlasted Button, Vettel, Hamilton and Räikkönen on the final lap to become the race’s second double winner.

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