Tue 03 November 2009
The draw for this year's Race Of Champions has been made and all 20 drivers now know who they will face in the opening group stages of this year's event in the Bird's Nest stadium, Beijing.
The order of races for the first round of head-to-head challenges was revealed in the pre-event press conference, at which all of the star competitors were presented to the world's media.
In a change to the traditional format of the ROC event, a preliminary round of races will decide the final driver to join the four-group line-up to The Race of Champions main event.
Drivers will line up as follows:
Dong He Bin
Preliminary Round winner
Giniel de Villiers
During the press conference, the drivers gave their thoughts on the ROC event ahead, which starts with The ROC Nations Cup this evening (Tuesday, November 3) and the spectacular Bird's Nest stadium venue.
Seven time F1 World Champion, Schumacher, who sported a specially-designed set of overalls featuring Chinese characters, said: “It's natural for us as racing drivers to go for it when we are in the car. But, even when you are not driving, The Race of Champions is really great fun to be at.
Newly crowned F1 World Champion, Button, compared the event to the forthcoming London 2012 Olympics – the Bird's Nest stadium hosted the summer Olympics in 2008. “Us Brits are very passionate about sport in general, but also motorsport. From what I hear, the organisation for the London Olympics is going well and I'm sure it will be a great event, just like this.”
F1 race-winner Sebastian Vettel could also not help making the Olympic analogy: “After Germany won the ROC Nations Cup twice in a row, we are looking for the hat-trick. If I can make a start like Usain Bolt did here last year, it could be the basis of a great result.”
Chinese driver, Dong He Bin, who earned his place in The Race of Champions by winning Monday night's ROC China event, said: “This stadium is one of the most iconic places in China, I feel very privileged to be able to compete here in front of my home crowd.”
Each driver signed a replica of the 2008 Olympic torch for a charity auction, during the press conference and was presented with a commemorative t-shirt.
The Nations Cup gets underway at 8pm local time in Beijing. You can follow the event live at www.raceofchampions.com.