The vision of a Chinese Grand Prix started in the early 1990s. The Chinese government had originally planned for an F1 circuit to be located in the city of Zhuhai in Guangdong Province, southern China. The Zhuhai International Circuit was designed and built and was provisionally added to the 1999 F1 World Championship calendar, but the track failed to meet certain standards set by the FIA. However, the Chinese government did not give up and eventually, with assistance from the organizers of the Macau Grand Prix, held the first ever Formula One race in China in 2004.
In 2002, it was announced that the management of the Shanghai International Circuit had signed a 7-year contract with Formula One Management to host the Chinese Grand Prix starting from the 2004 season until the 2011 season. The Chinese Grand Prix debuted on 26 September 2004, and was won by Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello. The following year, it hosted the final round of the Formula One championship, in which the newly crowned world champion Fernando Alonso won and claimed the constructor's title for Renault. In 2006, the Chinese Grand Prix was won by Michael Schumacher - his last victory in Formula One.
In November 2008 the BBC reported a senior race official, Qiu Weichang, as suggesting that the loss-making race might be cancelled. Following a similar announcement about the French Grand Prix, Qiu Weichang said that the race's future was under consideration, and a decision would be made in 2009.
2010 came and went with no formal announcement of an extension to the initial 7 race deal struck in 2004. However, immediately after the 2010 Shanghai race Bernie Ecclestone, who manages the contracts with the various circuits, said of the 2011 calendar, "We are not dropping anything. [It's] 20 races - getting ready for 25".
It was only in February 2011 that a deal was agreed between F1 and the organisers of the Chinese round of the world championship. Reasons for the delay appear to have been over the fee paid to F1 to host the race. After racking up losses year after year, the organisers of the race refused to pay the fee required, reported to be amongst the highest paid to host an F1 race. F1 bosses appear to have reduced the fee and the new agreement to host an F1 race ran to 2017.
In September 2017, a new three-year contract to host the race was announced, keeping the race on the calendar until 2020.