SEPANG, Malaysia (Reuters) - China will continue to host a Formula One Grand Prix in Shanghai for at least three more years, F1 said on Friday.
The Chinese Grand Prix, which made its debut in September 2004, would take place a week later next year, on April 15, swapping places with the Bahrain race, which will move to April 8, Formula One said on its website.
The current Shanghai race weekend coincides with China’s Qingming three-day national holiday, also known as the Tomb Sweeping Festival, when families pay respects to their ancestors.
“We are very pleased to have reached an agreement which will see the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix continue as a fixture of the Formula 1 World Championship for at least a further three years,” F1 Chairman and CEO Chase Carey said in a statement.
”This great country has already demonstrated an overwhelming show of interest in our sport and we firmly believe there is still a great deal of unexplored potential here.
“That’s why this renewed agreement is so important as part of our development strategy, especially in this part of the world.”
This year’s race, won by world championship leader Lewis Hamilton for a record-extending fifth time, was set to be the last under the previous contract.
Jiang Lan, chairman of Shanghai Juss Sports Development, the company that organizes the race, said the Chinese Grand Prix had become “one of the most prestigious and recognized events” on the Formula One calendar.
”Since its Shanghai debut in 2004, the Formula 1 Chinese F1 Grand Prix has become a motorsport showpiece for China but also a fixture for all of Asia Pacific’s and global motorsports fans,” added Jiang.
Friday’s announcement comes as Malaysia, which pioneered Formula One’s push into Asia, is set to host its last grand prix in Sepang, while Singapore agreed a four-year extension earlier this month, keeping it on the calendar until 2021.
Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by John O'Brien