Chinese GP: 5 things to look out for in F1’s 1000th race

Formula One's past and future will be in the spotlight in Shanghai because it is the world championship's 1,000th race.

Lewis Hamilton is a five-time world champion and the face of F1, but his bid for a sixth title is under threat this year.   -  Getty Images

Formula One will stage its 1,000th world championship race at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on Sunday. AFP Sport picks out five things to watch:

Monaco ace holds all the cards

The young driver was desperately unlucky last time out in Bahrain, leading for much of the race before his Ferrari lost power, allowing Lewis Hamilton to snatch victory.

Many consider Charles Leclerc is a world champion in the making and goes into the Shanghai GP as one of the favourites to win the race.   -  Getty Images

 

Over three days in the desert, the 21-year-old from Monaco had proved what many insiders have long said — that Leclerc is a world champion in the making.

He was denied a maiden grand prix win, but heads to Shanghai one of the favourites and it is just a matter of time until he gets that first win. Will Formula One's 1,000th championship race be the one?

Multiple threats for Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton is a five-time world champion and the face of F1, but his bid for a sixth title is under threat from several angles.

Ferrari have the quicker car and a strong pairing in Leclerc and four-time champion Sebastian Vettel, even if the latter is facing doubts over his form.

Then there is Hamilton's Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who leads the championship by a point from the Briton after two races and looks determined to put up a fight this season.

Vettel in a pickle

He might be a four-time world champion but Vettel is facing criticism, especially in comparison with his young Ferrari team-mate Leclerc.

The 31-year-old German's errors helped hand the title to Hamilton last season and by his high standards Vettel has had an indifferent start to this campaign.

He struggled with his car and finished fourth in Melbourne, and was then dominated by Leclerc -- who is a decade younger -- in Bahrain.

Vettel finished fifth there after a late spin, and media in Ferrari's native Italy have their knives out.

Lando Norris, who is 19, finished in the points in Bahrain, in only his second Formula One race.   -  Getty Images

 

Fast and young

It is not just Leclerc who has shown impressive speed in the first two races of the season, despite his tender age.

Lando Norris, who is 19, and Alexander Albon, who recently turned 23, also finished in the points in Bahrain, in only their second Formula One races.

The performance of McLaren driver Norris was particularly eye-catching, as he made it into the final qualifying session for the second time in a row.

Also not forgetting Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who is still just 21.

China marks F1 history and future

Formula One's past and future will be in the spotlight in Shanghai because it is the world championship's 1,000th race.

There was talk of marking the occasion by shifting it to Britain's Silverstone, where it all began in 1950, but Shanghai is fitting because owners Liberty Media are making a determined push in China.

Shanghai has been a staple of the racing calendar since 2004 and Formula One is interested in holding a second grand prix in China, where motor sport is gaining popularity.