SEPTEMBER 20, 2004
CHINESE GP - PREVIEW
RACE DATE: 26 SEPTEMBER 2004
LOCATION: SHANGHAI, CHINA
This weekend sees the inaugural Chinese Grand Prix and the first time that pure unadulterated sporting capitalism has tried to mix it with the Chinese. It will be an interesting event. Whether it lives up to the kind of claims being made at the moment is another matter: it is unlikely to be the most important race in the history of motorsport as some would have us believe but it will be important in that it will if successful open the way for China to get excited about Formula 1. But that is more than likely going to take a lot of time: the Malaysian Grand Prix is only now beginning to get Malaysia interested; the United States GP at Indianapolis has not yet captured the hearts of the Americans and Bahrain has done little to bring in truckloads of Middle Eastern money. Nohing happens overnight. It took Japan many years and a lot of Honda money to become really excited about F1 but it did happen and although it is not as popular as once it was, F1 is still big news in Japan. The key will probably be whether or not the Chinese can find a driver to cheer.
Convincing China to get involved in F1 will not be done overnight. Interest is growing but while western companies all see China as an unlimited market they must be careful not to forget that the Chinese are no fools.
As for the race on Sunday, the fact that there is a new circuit should act as a leveller but in truth it means that the team that is best prepared and most flexible will be the one which wins the race. And when it comes to strength in depth one cannot fault Ferrari. Having said that we have seen, notably in Belgium, that the team can be beaten and McLaren, Williams, BAR and Renault are all looking for a chink in the Ferrari armour. Perhaps we will see a flash of something extra from Jaguar (which has happened on occasion this year) as a sign to Ford that it has made a mistake and to potential buyers that here is a team that is worthy of investment.
TIMETABLE: (In Local Time - GMT+8)
Friday, September 10th:
Practice Session 1 - 11:00-12:00
Practice Session 2 - 14:00-15:00
Saturday, September 11th:
Practice Session 3 - 9:00-9:45
Practice Session 4 - 10:15-11:00
Pre-Qualifying Session - 13:00-14:00
Qualifying Session - 14:00-15:00
Sunday, September 12th:
Race - 14:00-16:00
MORE INFORMATION: CIRCUIT, 2004 RACE