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Moments in Time - the Chinese Grand Prix

16 Apr 2014

In our series exploring the history of Grands Prix through a selection of iconic images, we focus the lens on China and the impressive Shanghai International Circuit. This trip down memory lane takes in Michael Schumacher’s final Formula One victory, Lewis Hamilton's pit lane hiccup, Mark Webber’s epic charge through the field, and more...

Spectacular Shanghai dazzles on F1 debut, 2004

The Shanghai International Circuit was envisaged as a race track for the new millennium and when it opened in 2004 with its gargantuan 29,000-seat main grandstand and futuristic, track-straddling bridges, it certainly looked the part. Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello, seen here leading the field away on the formation lap, won the inaugural race at the spectacular venue from BAR’s Jenson Button and McLaren’s Kimi Raikkonen.

(© LAT Photographic)

Alonso cruises to title as Karthikeyan crashes out, 2005

Renault’s Fernando Alonso passes the wrecked remains of Narain Karthikeyan’s Jordan during the 2008 race in Shanghai. Karthikeyan lost control of his car on the 28th lap, but despite a huge impact with the barriers, the Indian driver emerged from the incident unscathed. Alonso, meanwhile, went on to win the race, and in doing so secured his first world title. The Spaniard’s victory also wrapped up a maiden constructors’ crown for Renault.

(© Sutton Images)

Elated Schumacher draws level with rival Alonso, 2006

Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher celebrates on the Shanghai podium after winning his 91st Grand Prix. The German’s against-the-odds victory moved him level on points with Renault’s Fernando Alonso with just two rounds of the championship to go. Ultimately the Spaniard would triumph, and this would prove to be the last time in his illustrious career that Schumacher stood on the top step of an podium.

(© Sutton Images)

Hamilton’s title bid hit by tyre trouble, 2007

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton looks helplessly on at his beached car after slithering off the road and into retirement in the 2007 race. Rookie Hamilton entered the penultimate event of the season as the clear championship favourite, but left Shanghai just four points ahead of Fernando Alonso and seven ahead of eventual champion (and race winner) Kimi Raikkonen after staying out inexplicably long on heavily worn intermediate tyres and then running off the road in the pit lane when he was finally called in for fresh rubber.

(© LAT Photographic)

Bourdais and Trulli tangle at Turn 1, 2008

A cloud of smoke engulfs the rear of the field at the start of the 2008 race as Toyota’s Jarno Trulli (red and white car, facing backwards) spins off at the first corner after being collected by Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais (far left, off track). Bourdais was badly delayed by the incident, whilst an incensed Trulli limped back to the pits to retire.

(© LAT Photographic)

Vettel guides Red Bull to maiden win - and it’s a one-two! 2009

Having watched sister team Toro Rosso score an improbable maiden victory a year earlier (in Italy, with Sebastian Vettel at the wheel), Red Bull were hoping that 2009 would bring them a first taste of the winner’s champagne. The Milton Keynes squad got their wish three races into the season as Vettel survived the wind and rain - and the challenge of Brawn’s Jenson Button - to claim a famous win. Better still for Red Bull, Mark Webber came home 10.9s behind his team mate to make it a glorious one-two.

(© Sutton Images)

Brilliant Button outfoxes the opposition, 2010

McLaren’s Jenson Button was at his brilliant best in the 2010 race in Shanghai, with his innate ability to pick the optimum strategy in changeable conditions coming to the fore once more. With rain falling, the reigning world champion (pictured) chose to stay out on slick tyres while most of the frontrunners pitted for intermediates. This earned him a big lead, but even after it was wiped out by a safety-car period, he was able to carefully hold his advantage over team mate Lewis Hamilton. Little wonder that after the race Button declared it ‘his best win yet’.

(© LAT Photographic)

Webber charges through the field, 2011

KERS problems and an iffy tyre choice in qualifying meant that Red Bull’s Mark Webber (pictured here ahead of Sauber’s Sergio Perez and Williams’ Rubens Barrichello) had to start the 2011 race way back in 18th place, but that didn’t stop the Australian from attacking in typically bullish style. Starting on the less favourable prime tyre, Webber had actually dropped two places to 20th by lap 11, but after switching to the option rubber at his first pit stop he began a charge of epic proportions. After catching and despatching Mercedes' Michael Schumacher and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, Webber then did the same to Ferrari's Felipe Massa, the second Mercedes of Nico Rosberg and McLaren's Jenson Button in the closing stages when they were all using the harder tyre. He eventually crossed the line in third, just seven seconds behind eventual winner Lewis Hamilton. It was, by anyone’s standards, an amazing drive.

(© Sutton Images)

Rosberg ends his - and Mercedes’ - long wait for victory, 2012

Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg salutes the crowd in parc ferme after claiming his maiden Grand Prix victory with a brilliant drive from pole in Shanghai. Rosberg had to wait six years for his first win - he’d made his F1 debut in 2006 - but for Mercedes the wait had been even longer. The Silver Arrows hadn’t had a ‘works’ driver on the top step of the podium since Juan Manuel Fangio won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza back in 1955.

(© LAT Photographic)

Ecstatic Alonso chalks up first win of the season, 2013

Having crashed out of the previous round in Malaysia, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso arrived in Shanghai desperate to re-establish his title credentials - and he did so emphatically. The Spaniard took the lead early in the race and then killed off the challenge of Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton with a series of typically relentless stints. It was an emphatic performance by the double world champion, and one that he was rightly pleased with as he crossed the finish line - particularly as title rival Sebastian Vettel could only manage fourth…

(© Sutton Images)