Tracking down F1 stars in Shanghai

Tracking down F1 stars in Shanghai

It's Grand Prix time in Shanghai. Here are your best chances to spot a F1 driver off the track this week
Shanghai F1 2012 -- F1 China Grand Prix
"Sorry amigo, gotta dash to Tianzifang for some shopping."

The 2012 Shanghai F1 (a k a China Grand Prix) runs April 13-15.

Racing fans are eagerly anticipating the chance to see their favorite drivers -- not only on the track but also around the city.

Here are top five off-the-track Shanghai spots to rub shoulders with F1 drivers.

Shanghai F1 - 2011 -- China Grand Prix -- airportGround zero for Chinese F1 fans.

Venue 1: Pudong Airport

Who you are likely to see: Pretty obvious, but it is the easiest way to spot drivers from all teams and their assistants. Naturally, the airport has become the preferred gathering ground for most F1 fans in Shanghai.

No race car driver can avoid passing through this gateway. A crowd of fans eagerly awaiting their arrival is enough to warm the hearts of most drivers, who will usually find it hard to reject requests for autographs and photos.

Going to the airport post-race is also an opportune time. Most drivers will have to while away a few hours between check-in and take-off, and you might just be able to waylay your idol for a quick chat.

Tip for fans: The Shanghai leg of F1 takes place after the race in Malaysia. Check the details of flights arriving at Pudong from Southeast Asia to avoid turning up at the wrong time.

More on CNNGo: 10 of the world's most loved airports

Shanghai F1 - 2011 -- China Grand Prix -- tianzifangRecharge for more F1 driver stalking at any of Tianzifang's many cafes.

Venue 2: Tianzifang, Taikang Lu 

Who you are likely to see: Felipe Massa

Tianzifang is not only the place to be and be seen in for locals, but also the F1 drivers.

F1 fans reportedly saw a large Mercedes parked by Tianzifang’s entrance during the championship season in Shanghai three years ago, and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa and his buddy Rubens Barrichello emerged from within.

The two Brazilians were spotted entering a T-shirt shop and came out with a pile of shopping bags.

Tip for fans: Find out what kind of stores your idol likes before camping out in Taikang Lu -- it's a maze-like place and you don't want to miss them. Don’t bother with the cafés -- the busy drivers won't have time to linger (and be mobbed).

Shanghai F1 - 2011 -- China Grand Prix -- four seasonsMost racers stay at Shanghai Four Seasons.

Venue 3: Shanghai's various five-star hotels

Who you are likely to see: Drivers and other members of all teams.

Most five-star hotels booked by F1 teams will be besieged by fans during race weekend.

The hotel of choice for McLaren has always been JW Marriott, while more than half the drivers have stayed at the Four Seasons.

But if lady luck is on your side and you catch the drivers on a good day, they might just come over and sign an autograph -- despite the disapproving looks of the security guards.

Tip for fans: To stand out from the crowd, bring along your idol’s national flag or a large banner, and dress in eye-catching colors. 

JW Marriott Hotel, 399 Nanjing Xi Lu, near Huangpi Nan Lu 南京西路399号40楼, 近黄陂南路,  +86 21 5359 4969, www.marriott.com 

Four Seasons Hotel, 500 Weihai Lu, near Shimen Yi Lu 威海路500号, 近石门一路, + 86 21 6256 8888, www.fourseasons.com/shanghai

Shanghai F1 - 2011 -- China Grand Prix -- hiltonThe Hilton hosts many F1-related commercial events.

Venue 4: Hilton Hotel

Who you are likely to see: Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton

As the official partner of Juss Events, who is the official organizer of F1 China Grand Prix, the Hilton is where many press conferences and promotional events are held -- with drivers in attendance.

There will be relatively fewer fans here, so you get a higher chance of an intimate encounter with racers.

Tip for fans: Security is stricter at the Hilton, so remain quiet and avoid screaming or risk being thrown out of the hotel.

Hilton Hotel, 250 Huashan Lu, near Yan'an Zhong Lu 华山路250号, 近延安中路, +86 21 6248 0000, www1.hilton.com

More on CNNGo: Star grazing: Where the rich and famous eat in Shanghai

Shanghai F1 - 2011 -- China Grand Prix -- qipu luHow long would it take a racer to run through Qipu Lu? Probably an afternoon.

Venue 5: Shanghai Old Town and Qipu Lu market

Who you are likely to see: Drivers and their translators.

An anonymous translator hired by one of the drivers revealed that she accompanies racers to many clothes and souvenir markets every year.

One of the popular Shanghai markets with racers is Qipu Lu. F1 drivers have been spotted coming out of the "cheap" clothing market with plastic bags full of booty.

The City God Temple market in Shanghai Old Town is also a good bet, where racers load up on Chinese souvenirs like carved chopsticks and sandalwood fans for family and friends back home.

Tip for fans: Don’t be shy when you spot your idol among the shopping masses. Instead, step forward and help them to bargain for a better deal, which will definitely make a good impression.

Qipu Lu clothing market, Qipu Lu, near Henan Bei Lu 七浦路, 靠近河南北路, 10 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., www.7p.com.cn

More on CNNGo: Best markets in Shanghai 

2012 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix, April 13-15, Shanghai International Circuit (上海国际赛车场), 2199 Yining Lu 伊宁路2199号, Metro line 11 Shanghai International Circuit station or Baiying Lu station, +86 400 6060 915, buy tickets 

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