As I sit here in my large room in my hotel in Shanghai, I am reflecting on what an interesting place China is. It’s hard to describe to those who haven’t been here but there is a unique atmosphere about the place, and that’s on top of the unique atmosphere of an F1 race, also indescribable unless you’ve experienced it first hand from inside the paddock.
Formula 1 seems increasingly at home in China, something that was brought home to me last night as I dined alone in a charming restaurant within the hustle and bustle of downtown Shanghai. I spotted a group of very senior McLaren personnel walking by and looking totally at ease with their surroundings. What a shame the noise of those surroundings prevented them from hearing my attempts to call them over and join me for dinner.
Speaking of McLaren, earlier on yesterday I had the exclusive chance to spend some one-to-one time with Jenson Button who was in relaxed mood and showing the wry sense of humour for which he is known. ‘Please stop talking to me,’ he quipped at one point and then the lift arrived at the ground floor and we both got out.
The big question of course is who will lift the trophy here in Shanghai. Personally, I wouldn’t bet against the Mercedes but nor would I rule out a Red Bull resurgence and you’d be a fool to ignore the Ferraris too, whilst the Williams are showing impressive form and Force India seem poised to surprise. Whatever happens, the real winner will be Formula 1. I’ll certainly be on the edge of my trackside seat this Sunday. Because remember, I’m here and you aren’t.