Yesterday it was race day again in Shanghai, and also this year I was present at the Shanghai F1 racing circuit. Spill Group’s Reinout te Brake and Peter Driessen joined me for what turned out to be one of the best races of the year. Because I was not able to secure a parking ticket (you need to buy at least 4 F1-tickets for that), we decided to take a shuttle bus at the Shanghai Stadium. But there were such long waiting lines there, that we changed plans and took a cab. The cab driver was a potential Schumacher: he literally raced us to the stadium even using the parking lane on the highway to pass cars. I liked it though, and I guess it was a good experience in Chinese driving for my colleagues.
After arriving at the race track it suddenly started to pour down heavily, and we were very lucky to find a big Coca-Cola umbrella to stay dry. The heavy rain luckily only lasted a few minutes, after which we walked to our seats. It turned out that my assistant had booked us excellent seats: at the end of the pit lane, just before the first curve! From there we overlooked the first three curves, and could also see the start and finish. Although last year I had Grand Stand seats right at the finish line (that were twice as expensive), this year’s seats were actually much better. In case you plan to go next year, try to get seats at the B1 area.
Food and drinks at the track were so-so. The hot dogs were edible, but there was only ketchup and no mustard. The beer was Foster’s, which is drinkable, but not when it’s not very cold (and this was not the case). It should not be too difficult to improve this a bit for next year’s race. But at least prices were reasonable, with about EUR 3 for 0.5 liter of beer.
The race itself was great. Right after the start the track was still wet, and that made for some exciting scenes. We were all fan of Schumacher (just as most of the Chinese around us), but he did not manage to pass anyone at the start (he started from position 6). But he was driving a great race and with some great maneuvers and a well-timed first pit-stop he managed to get into third place. The next rounds were amazing, for some reason Alonso was loosing 3 seconds per round during two consecutive rounds (without live comments you are left guessing what happened), and not much later Michael managed to pass him. Right in front of us! The whole stand was jumping up and down in excitement, and for a moment I was actually afraid the thing would break down. When he later also passed Fischichella (again right in front of us!) the crowd got crazy, and it was fantastic to be part of that. On the screens we noted that on the other side of the track it started raining about 4 rounds before the end, and we were a bit worried that this might cause Schumacher some trouble. But it did not rain hard enough to force him to come in to change tires (on our side it actually stayed dry), and he managed to win just before Alonso (who was allowed to pass his team mate – causing a thumbs down at him from many people when he passed us). All in all a great race, much better than the first two editions in Shanghai.