The Chinese Grand Prix is one of the best value for the money grands prix on the calendar. The Shanghai International Circuit is easy to get to, has outstanding facilities and the main grandstand boasts an amazing view of nearly the entire track.
The 2016 edition runs from the 15 to the 17 April and it will be interesting to see if the recent decline in spectator numbers has been averted by the reduction in price of all ticket categories. The support races will once again be provided by the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia, hosting its rounds 1 and 2 during the race weekend.
Grandstand A - Photo: Sauber Motorsport AG
Shanghai is one of China's most accessible city for westerners. It is a modern metropolis offering some fascinating sightseeing opportunities, good bars and restaurants.
Getting to and from the circuit is very convenient whether by car, taxi or train. A typical taxi ride from the city centre takes about 50 minutes and 90 minutes from Pudong International Airport. Add another 40 minutes if using public transport.
From East Nanjing Road, Peoples Square or Jing'an Temple Metro stations, where most western hotel chains are located, take a Line 2 train and change at Jiangsu Road for Line 11. This line has two branches and only the trains going to Anting stop at the Shanghai Circuit station. The exit of the station is about 300 yards from Gate 1 (behind the main grandstand) and 500 yards from Gate 11 (behind grandstand K).
View from Grandstand A-High - Image: MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team
Whilst considered a 'fly-away' destination, the Chinese GP is far from being the most expensive in the region. I fact, it is the second cheapest F1 weekend in Asia after Malaysia.
Airfares and hotel prices are relatively low, food and drinks at the track not overly expensive either.
Return airfares to Shanghai start from:
$1,000 from Manama (Bahrain)
£1,000 (direct) or £500 (1 stop) from London
900 (direct) or 500 (1 stop) from Frankfurt
$1,100 (direct) or $800 (1 stop) from New York
S$700 (direct) or S$500 (1 stop) from Singapore
A$1,100 from Sydney
Four-night accommodation from: ₯4000 / $650 / £450 / 600 for a four star double/twin room with a review score of 7/10 or more on Booking.com.
Food and drinks: ₯1,200 / $200 / £140 / 190 per person for four to five days.
One-way taxi journey:
From Pudong International Airport to Downtown Shanghai: ₯200 / $35 / £25 / 30
From Downtown Shanghai to the circuit: ₯300 / $50 / £35 / 45 (inclusive of ₯100 road tolls)
From Pudong International Airport to the circuit: ₯400 / $65 / £45 / 60 (inclusive of ₯100 road tolls)
One-way metro fare to Shanghai Circuit from:
Downtown Shanghai ₯6 / $1 / 70p / 0.90
Anting ₯4 / $0.70 / 45p / 0.60
Pudong International Airport ₯9 / $1.50 / £1 / 1.40
Tourist visa: from $30 / £20 / 35 / A$50 / C$50 depending on your length of stay and your nationality.
Internet access: HK$150 / $20 / £15 / 17 for a SIM card and about 1.5GB of mobile data on China Mobile, the only provider to offer a decent Chinese 4G network so far. The price is indicated in HKD as there does not seem to be any information available for this plan in English other than on the Hong Kong website www.hk.chinamobile.com.
TOTAL BUDGET from (excluding flights and race tickets):
₯6,000 / $1,000 / £700 / 900 for a solo traveller; or
₯7,200 / $1,100 / £800 / 1,000 for a couple,
assuming arrival on Thursday morning and departure on Monday morning.
Spectators in Grandstand H and Grass Area L witness the finish of the 2015 race - Image: Ferrari S.p.A
The price list of the Chinese F1 round is quite straight forward. All tickets are now three-day packages with unreserved seating on Friday.
Prices from the organisers are in bold, and we have also included the lowest prices we could find for hospitality. BookF1.com prices are in white on black, gpticketshop.com prices are in yellow on black and ExclusiveGP's are in blue.
Exchange rates are sourced from xe.com and based on the highest rate since the last Chinese Grand Prix. Grandstand and General Admission ticket prices have been rounded up to the nearest $/£/10 whereas hospitality tickets have been rounded up to the nearest $/£/100.
Image: JUSS Event Management Company Ltd.
Similarly to the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia, there are no bad grandstands where to sit. Besides the price, the difference between them is whether they are fully covered (45% chance of rain) and how many TV screens are available (the more the better).
Grandstand A-Platinum is located in the middle section of Grandstand A-High. From there, you can see grid, pit garages and a panoramic view of most of the track, except for the end of the long straight (DRS/overtaking zone) at Turns 14 and 15. The roof protects spectators from rain or shine and the facilities are very clean. The pit building hosts no less than six superscreens opposite the main grandstand.
Seats in Grandstand A-High are on either side of the Platinum area and enjoy a similar views and shelter.
For a closer look of the cars, grid and pit lane, choose a seat in Grandstand A-Low. Bearing in mind the pit garages are allocated in last year's World Constructor Championship classification, Mercedes, Ferrari and Williams at the start of the pit lane whereas McLaren and Manor are closer to the exit. The front of the grid is about mid way through the grandstand. You'll also be closer to one of the videowalls but your seat might not be under cover.
Grandstands H and K are situated at the end of the straight and hairpin, where most of the overtaking happened even before the advent of the DRS. These grandstands are partially covered and enjoy two TV screens each, albeit quite small. Because of the linear motion of acceleration, it is easier to take pictures of cars coming out of the hairpin rather than breaking into Turn 14. Grandstand H is probably better suited to that. It is also worth noting that block H1b of Grandstand H looks over the entire pit straight and pit lane entry.
Of the general admission areas, Grass J is the prime spot to notice overtaking manoeuvres this area has access to two of the videowalls of Grandstands H and K. The Grass L zone provides views of the start/finish, pit lane entry and podium celebrations. It also has access to a TV screen opposite the Grandstand A.
Grandstand H - Photo: Sauber Motorsport AG
It is nearly impossible to find a taxi after the race on Sunday. However, if you must travel by taxi, ask your hotel front desk or concierge to give you the address of the hotel in Chinese. Uber also works great in China but you'll need someone to be able to give pick up directions in Chinese when the driver rings (unlike many other countries).
Beat the queues at the metro station by going in the opposite direction, away from the city centre. There's a handful of hotels close to Anting and Shanghai Automotive City station (Crowne Plaza Shanghai Anting Golf). Check the links below in section 6.
Folding chairs or stools, cooler bags and flags are all permitted within the precinct. No alcohol or air horns. Beware ticket touts at the entrance of the circuit. English speaking staff are available at the main official ticket desk. Don't be fooled in buying a ticket that is either overpriced, counterfeit or both.
The number of spectators going to the Chinese Grand Prix is still big enough to experience never-ending queues at the food stalls.
Be also aware Chinese spectators can keep standing up in aisles and stairwells and end up blocking your view, whilst others may just wishing to sit somewhere else than their reserved seat. Volunteers at the track also speak both English and Chinese. Do not hesitate to see them if you have any questions, they'll be delighted to help.
China has its own 4G and your mobile phone may not be able to give you the smooth experience you would normally expect. It is also worth remembering Facebook, Twitter and Google services are not normally available in China.
Grass area L and Grandstand A - Image: Ferrari S.p.A
Booking.com - our trustworthy hotel reservation partner
www.shmetro.com/EnglishPage/EnglishPage.jsp - Shanghai Metro
www.energyhotel.com.cn/en/ - Jiazheng International Energy Hotel (five star / 200 yards from Anting station)
au.china-embassy.org/eng/ - Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Australia
ca.chineseembassy.org/eng/ - Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Canada
www.chinese-embassy.org.uk/eng/ - Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the UK
www.china-embassy.org/eng/ - Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the US
formula1.com - General Information and schedule from Formula1.com
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