Having picked Shanghai as the location for the first Chinese Grand Prix and allocated the respective financial (mega) investments, only one problem remained: the circuit. The Chinese organisers were not exactly highly prepared in this area. The first option proposed was Zhuhai: a well-known but idiosyncratic GT venue. Unsurprisingly, the FIA dismissed the idea: Zhuhai was neither suitable, technologically adequate, nor safe.
So, the only option was to build a brand-new circuit because the existing facilities in the area were even less adequate and incorrectly sized than Zhuhai. Enter Herman Tilke, whose previous work had included Malaysia and Bahrain. His take for China went one step further: in addition to following the usual technical brief for long straights followed by very slow corners to favour overtaking, the Shanghai track was a nod to Chinese tradition and culture. The track was drawn in the shape of the Chinese ideogram shàng meaning "above" or "climbing". The word is part of the name of the city of Shanghai and eloquently expresses the ambitions of local organisers.
Seen from above the circuit looks like a flower. The long central straight, overlooked by the huge raised glass media centre over the pit lane, ends with a tightening right-hand corner that closes to form nearly a complete circle. The track is wide to promote overtaking, at least in principle. The corners are all different from each other and amount to nearly 80 per cent of the lap time, posing a serious challenge in terms of lateral acceleration and tyre wear. The other big challenge is the weather, especially after the grand prix was bumped up from the end to the beginning of the championship, after the first few races.