indeed, it all (whole weekend) felt underwhelming given the hype they themselves put on this event.
Would've liked to see the drivers do something like a little mini-race in old (f1) cars, but then again the 'that's dangerous brigade' will probably prevent that from happening.
But just something special, instead we got a half-hearted attempt by Alain Prost to wave the finish flag
We all wanted a big party, like the 500th Grand Prix in Adelaide. The Formula 1 management made every effort to celebrate the 1,000th Grand Prix, but in the paddock and on the grandstands there was simply no atmosphere. The event remained as grey as the sky over Shanghai. China was simply an unsuitable place to celebrate such an anniversary. Too far away from the core countries of motorsport, too complicated with visas and customs regulations, too little tradition-conscious. Even in the 16th year of Formula 1 in China, sport has not yet gained a foothold in the Middle Kingdom. The race was sold out, but today there are much fewer grandstands lining the Shanghai circuit than at its debut in 2004.
The plan to invite all world champions and let all world champion cars drive around the race track had to fail. In the end, only the usual suspects of the world champions were in Shanghai. Alain Prost in his role as Renault ambassador, the TV commentators Damon Hill and Nico Rosberg. And of course the champions who are still active: Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen. All cars and the helmets of almost all drivers wore a "1,000 Grand Prix" sticker. Half of the drivers repainted their helmets especially for the anniversary. The FIA granted an exemption. The 1,000 Grand Prix design was not one of the two paint jobs allowed per year.
Only one world champion car there
On the race track a lonely Lotus 49 in the specification of Monaco 1970 with Damon Hill at the wheel did his laps. The transport of other icons like the Mercedes W196 or Michael Schumacher's world champion Ferrari F2004 to China proved to be either too complicated or too expensive. In the paddock parked a Williams FW15C from 1993, a Stewart SF1 from 1997 and a Lotus E20 from 2012. The not present or already dead world champions were remembered by large posters. A TAG turbo from 1984, World Cup cups, steering wheels, drawings, model cars, overalls and helmets by Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher rounded off the offer.
It seemed like a desperate attempt to conjure up some history in the sad concrete desert behind the pits. The F1 management distributed commemorative coins, posters and a special programme among those who actually made it to China. A fan festival with a 2012 Renault and a 2011 Sauber took place in the city parallel to the qualification on Saturday. A five-digit number of locals flocked to Xintiandi Park.
The first race after the 999.
The drivers were divided on how to evaluate the "round birthday". Most felt it was an honour to take part in a historic event. Whether a newcomer like George Russell or a veteran like Sebastian Vettel. Kevin Magnussen also felt the special significance of the moment: "As a Formula 1 fan, it's great to be part of this race. We are part of history". In retrospect, the Dane names GP Brazil 2008 and GP Canada 2011 as his personal favourites.
Vettel particularly remembers Ayrton Senna's first victory in Brazil. Valtteri Bottas on Mika Häkkinen's first victory in Jerez in 1997. Magnussen would like to have the McLaren MP4-4 from 1988 in his garage, Nico Hülkenberg the Benetton B195-Renault from Michael Schumacher. Max Verstappen does not commit himself: "Something from the early 90s. Verstappen leads the squad of drivers who have little to do with the anniversary: "The 1,000th race is the first after the 999th" Nico Hülkenberg fears: "In our fast-moving and superficial world you can't expect too much sustainability. I fear that it will soon be one race among many." Lewis Hamilton doesn't like birthdays or anniversaries, but has had his own red cap made for the ceremony. "From Mercedes' point of view, red is not exactly true to the line. But they let me get away with it."