The best circuit Schumacher's seen 24 Sep 2004
Superb Shanghai facility draws nothing but praise
Walking in its opulent paddock has been likened to a trip to Disneyland, such is the impression created by the Shanghai International Circuit. It is clear from comments up and down the pit lane that Formula One racing has found itself the perfect new venue.
I came out here, I think, at Christmas time and was hugely impressed and similarly, a little bit like Bahrain, not really believing they could get it all completed, said team principal Eddie Jordan. What we see here is absolutely amazing, fantastic, and they need all the congratulations that you can imagine because its the detail, its things like the teams rooms and the facilities there and we dont have that anywhere else. These people have set the benchmark. Also, I think China is particularly important. It is the emerging marketplace of the future, we have collected three sponsors from here, which is always a good sign - I might as well give them a plug: Citibank, B&Q and Beijing Chateau - and look, to get those people to come to someone like Jordan I am enormously pleased, so long may it continue here in China.
Renault chief Flavio Briatore said: I agree with Eddie and what everybody has said - the circuit is fantastic. This is an example, in Asia, we see Malaysia, we see Bahrain, we see Shanghai, it is much better than Europe. The circuits in Europe are now looking really, really bad. We should invite promoters from Europe, from Magny-Cours and Silverstone, to come here. This is fantastic and, I mean, to beat this one is really, really difficult. For me, Bahrain was already impressive but this one is better. Really, the circuits in Europe, the facilities are very poor. We have six or seven circuits that are not for Formula One any more.
Tony Purnell, of Jaguar Racing, said: I have travelled around China a bit in the last few months and the way the country has modernised is incredible. It is a statement to the world that China is arriving and is one of the most modern nations on the planet. This is the way to do it, with Formula One.
The drivers are all very excited about the challenge that the track poses. Jenson Button, who has driven round it recently in a road car, said: A lot of the corners are cambered which is pretty unusual for an F1 circuit. Turn One is pretty exciting as the corner gets tighter and tighter as you get into it which will be tough on the tyres and tough on your neck. Youve also got a couple of high-speed corners at the back of the track which look like fun and the long right-hander leading on to the back straight which will be the hardest on the circuit.
Then there is one of the longest straights in Formula One, where well be reaching speeds of well over 320 kph. The braking into the hairpin at the end of this will be pretty tough, too.
After taking a scooter round the track for the first time yesterday, multiple world champion Michael Schumacher described it as, the best race track I have seen. Its a fabulous facility.
Briatore was also upbeat about the return of Schumachers old rival Jacques Villeneuve. He is driving for me tomorrow; tomorrow he starts practice like everybody. Weve going to give him as much mileage as possible because he hasnt been in the car for 10 months. I believe its good news for all of Formula One, because now that the World Championship is finished nobody is asking any longer is Michael winning this race or the next one? And only the good news, or the different news, is Villeneuve. I believe we are making a contribution to talking about positive things in Formula One.
Stressing the importance of China as a world market, Mercedes-Benz motorsport director Norbert Haug said: In my view this is a very important race, probably the most important race in the history of motorsport. It is a new era and I think we will have more spectators worldwide for television than for any race before, especially in America I think there will be a lot mentioned about the race.