Chinese Grand Prix Weekend: Shanghai

After arriving into Hangzhou airport at a ridiculous time I was confronted with the prospect of a 3 hour bus ride to Shanghai itself and then finding a taxi at silly o clock in the morning. During this process I was rather mad at myself for not paying the extra 90 quid to fly into Shanghai but the next day I was back with my opinion that money is more valuable than time when backpacking!

I got to bed at around 4am that night and woke up at 9am the next day to head to the F1 for Friday Practice. Thankfully a Chinese guy in my room, who asked me to call him Kimi (yes, as in Raikkonen) was also heading to the F1 which made finding an amazing Chinese breakfast (Pork Dumplings and Hundun Pork Soup) for just over a quid and negotiating the Chinese Subway system to the circuit a cinch.

In fairness to Shanghai everything was really well set out and most things also in English. I think I could have got there eventually lol.

Once at the circuit Friday was a free day to sit wherever you want so after spending ten minutes in line collecting my tickets we moved around a few seats; the pit straight, one side of the hairpin on the back straight, the bottom of the hairpin and into my grandstand.

My seats were pretty good and I was quite happy with them for my money! The day was quite short as the Chinese GP has only the F1 and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia – a few more support races would have been welcome.

After making it back on the Subway I headed out in search of a noodle restaurant the Lonely Planet reccomended and with Kimi’s directions I found it without problem! I had noodle soup with fried chili pork and a ‘Suntory” beer, which wasn’t all that great, the noodles were spot on though, think I am heading back there tonight in fact!!

After that it was bedtime, catching up on the sleep I’d missed the night before after finishin Lou Holtz’s autobiography, a great read, read it cover to cover in less than 2 days, will keep it with me – I’ve been American Football literature starved in HCMC – and read it again later in the trip!

Saturday saw another join our group, Sean, an English lad, we went back to the same place for breakfast, had to have the amazing dumplings again but tried the beef soup instead of the pork, absolutely amazing!!

From there it was qualifying day the day was pretty normal until qualifyin, I read a 150 pages of my John Grisham in the gaps and sat around waiting for quali. Which turned out to be a rather exciting session, unsurprisingly Vettel was on pole but somehow Mark Webber had got himself in 18th and Nick Heidfeld was down in 16th. Two Toro Rossos and a Force India made the top ten, a rather topsy turvy grid was a good prospect before Sunday’s race.

That night myself and Sean headed out in search of a Mongolian rplace listed in the lnoely planet: Uighur Restaurant, and I’m so glad that we did. Some of the finest food I’ve had in Asia; A huge chunk of Mutton that came whole and was carved up, on the bone, off the bone, just ridiculously succulent meat, SO delicious! Accompanied with a traditional bread and sesame chicken and a beer it was sheer delight. The total cost came in at less than a tenner each to top it off. Perfection.

From there we headed down the Bund to see the old buildings and admire the skyline in the city centre, after taking a few great pictures it was time to turn in before the big race today!

It was an early wake up this morning and to the F1 circuit after another delicious breakfast at the same place, which is going to become a regular until I leave Shanghai on Friday I reckon!

Once we got to the circuit the Porsche Carrera Cup race was an interesting diversion for half an hour and then it looked like it was going to be a two and a half hour reading session until the race, which would have been fine if it came to it.

Five minutes into me opening the John Grisham I’ve started an American family and their friend sat down next to me and even gave me some of their KFC they’d brought in with them. I chatted motor racing and life with them while mocking the ridiculous “entertainment” put on to fill the time until race and the time passed really quickly!

The race started and a miracle happened: both the McLarens nailed Vettel into turn one and he wouldn’t be allowed to waltz away to another easy victory. Joy.

From there an absolutely engrossing race unfolded, with shit tonnes of passing and some amazing performances. Mark Webber rode the balls off his Red Bull from 18th up to third. Lewis Hamilton nailed Vettel late in the race to take the victory and there were countless wonderful performances including Nico Robserg and the always entertaining Kamui Kobyashi who was his usual active balls to the wall self.

After pounding out the applause I was ready to head to the misery of the subway lines when my new found friends, Mark, Stacy, their son Fielding and their friend George offered to drop me off at the East Nanjing road station in their car, an offer I gratefully accepted to avoid hours in the Subway system; the roads were pretty empty and I was back in my hostel less than an hour after the race was over!

Brilliant, a great day out, now for five days of actually exploring Shanghai!

p.s. the keyboard im typing on is a bit rubbish, especially the “G” key, any and all spelling errors are the keyboards fault and not my own!

Love and Kobayashi

J. Xx

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