Mercedes boss bats for China as next F1 hub


China to host more F1 races in the future Image: MJR Group Ltd./Coliseum

The Chinese Grand Prix is absent from the calendar for the third straight year due to the COVID-19 pandemic but Mercedes boss Toto Wolff said Formula One can have a “strong footprint” in China and hopes it will one day host three races each season.

The ‘Reuters’ stated that China is relatively lacking in motorsport culture, but is a key market for Formula One with a rapidly emerging middle class and lure as an attractive market for automakers.

The Chinese Grand Prix is a round of the Formula One World Championship and is contracted to return in 2023. It is currently held at the Shanghai International Circuit, Jiading, Shanghai, designed by Hermann Tilke. When completed in 2004, it was the most expensive Formula One circuit facility, costing US$240 million.

Hermann Tilke is a German engineer, racing driver and circuit designer, who has designed numerous Formula One motor racing circuits.

The 2,00,000-capacity Shanghai International Circuit is a motorsport race track, situated in the Jiading District, Shanghai (China). The circuit is best known as the venue for the annual Chinese Grand Prix which was hosted from 2004 to 2019 and again will be hosted from 2023 onwards.

Formula One is the highest class of international racing for open-wheel single-seater formula racing cars sanctioned by the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile.

The ‘Reuters’ further stated that Formula One has also extended its contract with the Chinese Grand Prix until 2025 and there has long been talk of a second race in the country.

Stated Wolff at the FIA Formula E Championship held in Monaco (France) recently, “We’ve been in Shanghai before and couldn’t be there the last two years, but this is an important market for us. I’d like to not only race in Shanghai, I’d also like to race in Beijing. It’s a fantastic market for us as Mercedes, and I believe we should be embedded there with a strong footprint. We have three races in the United States now – Las Vegas, Miami and Austin – and if we can do the same thing in China, that would be great.”

China’s first Formula One driver Guanyu Zhou enjoyed a superb start to his career at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix in March, as the Alfa Romeo rookie finished in the points on his debut.

Chinese drivers have tested Formula One machinery before with Ma Qing Hua and Dutch-born Ho-Pin Tung, who was reserve for Renault in 2010 in another first.

Toto Wolff is an Austrian billionaire motorsport executive, investor and former racing driver. He holds a 33 percent stake in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team and is Team Principal and head honcho of the team.

Mercedes-Benz, a brand of the Mercedes-Benz Group, has been involved in Formula One as both team owner and engine manufacturer for various periods since 1954.

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