Race returns after 5-year hiatus

The Formula 1 circus is back in China for the first time in five years for the running of the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix this weekend at the Shanghai International Circuit.

The normally annual race has been rescheduled and later canceled in each of the past five years due to pandemic-related travel restrictions. It means that this year’s race, which serves as round five of the 2024 season, will be the first time that Chinese driver Zhou Guanyu, now into his third year of F1, will compete on home soil.

The Shanghai International Circuit stretches 3.4 miles and features 16 turns. It’s known for fast corners, a smooth surface, and plenty of overtaking opportunities. Around 80% of a lap is spent cornering, so the tires struggle to last, so strategy can make a huge difference. Pirelli has nominated its mid-range C2, C3, and C4 compounds for the race.

One issue is the circuit is built on reclaimed swampland. As a result, the risk of ground movement below the surface is increased, so steps need to be taken to grind down and reseal areas of concern on the track to make it less bumpy.

Shanghai International Circuit, home of the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix

This year’s Chinese Grand Prix includes the first Sprint race of the season. The Sprint race is a standalone points race with its own qualifying session that takes place on Fridays. At the Chinese Grand Prix, the Sprint race qualifying session turned into a bit of lottery when heavy rain hit the track. McLaren’s Lando Norris claimed the pole position and will be joined at the front of the grid for the Sprint race by Mercedes-Benz AMG’s Lewis Hamilton.

Both the Sprint race, plus the regular qualifying session for Sunday’s main race, will take place on Saturday. The current weather forecast calls for cloudy but dry conditions for the duration of the weekend.

Going into the weekend, Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen leads the 2024 Drivers’ Championship with 77 points. Fellow Red Bull driver Sergio Perez is second with 64 points, and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc is third with 59 points. In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull leads with 141 points versus the 120 of Ferrari and 69 of McLaren. The last winner in China was Hamilton driving for Mercedes.