Surprising, isn't it? Not the fact that Rubens Barrichello took the checkered, but that China even has a Grand Prix at all— it's one of the major signs of the growth conspicuous luxury in China, something practically forbidden under the asceticism encouraged by communism. Now rich Chinese are browsing at the country's first Ferrari dealership, rocking head to toe designer gear, and paying up to $400 a head to watch the most famous F1 drivers lap the $350 million track in Shanghai. China is even working on getting its own F1 team up and running. The Vice President of the Shanghai International Circuit is himself a Communist party member, but he sees the race as a positive thing since it encourages tourism and pumps money into the economy. Interest in the Grand Prix has been augmented by China's blossoming interest in automobiles in general; a glut of new Chinese manufacturers contributed to 1.8 million new car sales last year, a number which will is projected to swell to 5.6 million in ten years, creating an image of China far different from the stereotypical idea of masses of identically-dressed workers riding bicycles through the streets.
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