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NEED TO KNOW: The most important facts, stats and trivia ahead of the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

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Need To Know Formula 1 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

After a five-year absence, the Chinese Grand Prix makes a welcome return this weekend. Need to Know is your all-in-one guide for the week ahead with statistics, driving pointers, strategy tips and plenty more. You can also keep track of how fans have voted using our popular F1 Play predictor game.

With Shanghai also marking the first Sprint weekend of the season, Free Practice 1 and Sprint Qualifying will take place on Friday, April 19, followed by the Sprint and qualifying for the Grand Prix on Saturday, April 20 and the Grand Prix itself on Sunday, April 21.

IT’S RACE WEEK: 5 storylines we’re excited about ahead of the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

Vital statistics

  • First Grand Prix – 2004
  • Track Length – 5.451km
  • Lap record – 1m 32.238s, Michael Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004
  • Most pole positions – Lewis Hamilton (6)
  • Most wins – Lewis Hamilton (6)
  • Trivia – The circuit is designed to look like the Chinese symbol for ‘shang’, meaning upwards
  • Pole run to Turn 1 braking point – 315 metres
  • Overtakes completed in 2023 – N/A
  • Safety Car probability – 75%
  • Virtual Safety Car probability – 50%
  • Pit stop time loss – 22.9 seconds* (including 2.5s stationary)

*2019 data

FAN VIEW: F1 Play gamers appear to have forgotten that Red Bull return to dominance in Japan, and they are instead still taking heart from what happened previously in Melbourne. While Max Verstappen leads the voting, he has only a narrow advantage over the closely-matched trio of Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz.

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The driver’s verdict

Jolyon Palmer, former Renault F1 driver: Shanghai is a circuit with long straights and even longer corners.

The first corner is unique with a wickedly fast approach before you scrub off the speed through an almost 360 degree turn which feels never-ending from the cockpit. That brings you into a slow left-hander where the exit is crucial for traction to the end of a short Sector 1.

PALMER: This season was meant to be an audition for a Red Bull return, but is Ricciardo now under pressure at RB?

Sector 2 is a nicer section of fast sweeping bends, again gradually scrubbing speed through the high-speed sequence of Turns 7, 8 and 9.

Sector 3 again features an almost endless righ-hand turn, building speed this time onto the back straight, another reason this circuit is so hard on the left-front tyre.

The back straight is the best overtaking opportunity with DRS into a big braking zone for a really tight right-hander, leaving just a quick and satisfying left-hander to round out the lap.

ONBOARD: Valtteri Bottas' China Pirelli pole position lap

Last five Chinese GP pole-sitters

  • 2019 – Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes)
  • 2018 – Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari)
  • 2017 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  • 2016 – Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
  • 2015 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

F1 NATION: Shanghai returns for the first Sprint of the season – it’s our Chinese GP preview

Last five Chinese GP winners

  • 2019 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  • 2018 – Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull)
  • 2017 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)
  • 2016 – Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
  • 2015 – Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes)

FAN VIEW: It’s a similar story here, with Verstappen having the edge – but not by much. Gone are the days of 95% of F1 Play gamers favouring the Dutchman. Then come Sainz and Leclerc (who have an almost identical number of votes), with the Ferrari pair being closely followed by the other Red Bull of Perez.

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Hamilton leads the way when it comes to all-time poles and wins in China

Strategy and set-up keys

F1 drivers and teams will have plenty to think about this weekend as not only does the sport return to China for the first time in five years, but the revised Sprint format is also in play.

That means just one practice session to get to grips with the 5.451km Shanghai International Circuit, which features a mixture of low, medium and high-speed corners, and a particularly lengthy back straight.

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Based on simulations and past data, tyre supplier Pirelli has put the track in a “medium category” when it comes to lateral and longitudinal forces, with the outside of the tyre – especially on the left-hand side – wearing the most, meaning a mid-range selection of the C2 (hard), C3 (medium) and C4 (soft).

F1’s Sprint format means a different dry tyre allocation for the weekend ahead, with availability dropping from 13 sets to 12 (two hard, four medium and six soft), while the number of wet-weather sets remains the same (five intermediate and two wet).

While variable weather conditions could play their part, Pirelli point to a two-stop strategy traditionally being the preferred approach to the Grand Prix in dry conditions, thanks to an array of overtaking possibilities and the undercut often being powerful at Shanghai.

FAN VIEW: The Verstappen/Perez/Sainz/Leclerc quartet is utterly dominant in the voting for podium spots on F1 Play, with the next and distant best being McLaren’s Lando Norris. He is by far the most popular pick to gatecrash the party, with nibbles for Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and the other McLaren of Oscar Piastri.

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Current form

After their blip in Melbourne, where Max Verstappen retired amid brake woes and team mate Sergio Perez failed to finish on the podium, Red Bull were back to their best around the fast sweeps of Suzuka a fortnight ago.

Indeed, it was an imperious display from the reigning world champions as they logged their third one-two finish from four races, with Australian Grand Prix winners Ferrari this time unable to pose a threat.

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However, as mentioned above, there’s potential for that to all change this weekend as not only does the field have to get used to driving around the Shanghai circuit again, but they also have the Sprint format to contend with.

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An exciting weekend awaits as F1 returns to China and the Shanghai circuit

Amid those challenges, Ferrari will be looking to prove that their Albert Park challenge was not a one-off by pushing Red Bull once more, with McLaren, Aston Martin and Mercedes also harbouring hopes of being in the mix.

But while there is plenty of focus on those five teams, a fascinating battle has been developing behind, one that RB and Haas are currently leading over Williams, Kick Sauber and Alpine. After four standard Grand Prix weekends, the Sprint could present the chance to score some valuable extra points.

READ MORE: Komatsu reveals area where Haas ‘weren’t functioning as a team’ in previous seasons

Plenty to watch out for, then, as F1 gets set to go racing in China for the first time since 2019...

FAN VIEW: Yuki Tsunoda was among the points in both Australia and Japan, and he is fancied strongly to go well again here. There is strong support for the Aston Martins of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll, and the Williams of Alex Albon. F1 Play gamers also like the Haas pair of Kevin Magnussen and Nico Hulkenberg.

RACE HIGHLIGHTS: 2019 Chinese Grand Prix

Iconic moment

There are plenty of moments to choose from when looking back over the history of the Chinese Grand Prix, which joined the F1 calendar back in 2004, but for the returning edition we have chosen Michael Schumacher’s final F1 win.

Ferrari driver Schumacher brilliantly came out on top in a battle against Renault title rival Fernando Alonso during a wet-dry 2006 encounter, having posted a no-score and DNF on his previous two visits to Shanghai, to draw level with the Spaniard in the standings.

READ MORE: ‘Today was a little present to myself’ – The story of Michael Schumacher's 91st and final F1 win

While it was ultimately not to be an eighth world title for the legendary German racer, with Alonso pipping him to the crown, it marked the 91st and last victory of an incredible career in the top echelon.

Check out highlights of that memorable race in the video player below...

Michael Schumacher's 91st win at the 2006 Chinese Grand Prix

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