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Anticipation builds for Shanghai race 29 Jul 2004

Neel Jani (SUI) Sauber Test Driver.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, 31 July 2003

The first Chinese Grand Prix at the newly constructed Shanghai International Circuit is now just two months away and anticipation is mounting.

Jo Bauer, the FIA's Technical Delegate, has paid a visit to the new circuit, and reports that the area has already been highly developed.

"The first impressions are very impressive," he says, "on your way from the airport to the city the Transrapid (an electro-magnetic 'floating' train) passes by at 400 km/h, there are motorways with eight lanes, huge sky scrapers and beautiful parks."

But it is the 5.45 kilometre (3.38 mile) long circuit that really impressed Bauer:

"The only world that can describe the Shanghai International Circuit is 'wow', said Bauer, "Bahrain was fantastic but China is a totally new dimension. When you walk into the pit lane, you can't see the sky, only the 50 metre high grandstand."

The circuit has been designed by German 'track architect' Hermann Tilke, has seven left- and seven right-handed corners, and will see drivers reach a maximum estimated at 327 km/h on the 1.2 km (0.75 mile) long main straight.

Chinese journalists have also been able to experience the new circuit with a specially organised 'drive day' intended to promote interest in the circuit. They were driven round the circuit by Sauber Petronas test driver Neel Jani in a modified Subaru road car.

"I'm very impressed by this huge and ultra-modern facility," said Jani, "the race will certainly be a big challenge."

Bauer was also quick to praise the professionalism with which China has handled its entry to the world of Formula One:

"The Chinese are extremely willing to get everything finished faultlessly. Most of the experts with which I have contact are between 20 and 30 years old and have good expertise. I believe the Chinese will put on a great Grand Prix.

The inaugural Chinese Grand Prix will be held on the 26th September.