JOHANNES EISELE/Getty Images
April 7, 2017
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen topped a disrupted first practice at the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix on Friday, while the day’s second session didn’t even start in Shanghai.
The opening session was delayed for 45 minutes due to poor visibility before a virtual safety car and another red flag limited running to around 10 minutes in total. During that brief spell when the track was green, the young Dutchman slapped on the intermediate tyres to move to the top of the standings.
The conditions worsened in the afternoon, with racing again red-flagged to begin with. Eventually, the session was waved off in its entirety.
Here’s a look at how a disappointing day panned out for all concerned.
Here are the results in full from a frustrating first session on track for the drivers, per the FIA Twitter feed:
#F1 – @Max33Verstappen leads in opening #ChineseGP practice https://t.co/5d30TF9hxL
4/7/2017, 3:43:18 AM
With the session clock on five minutes the drivers were called off the circuit due to the difficult conditions, with mist and smog engulfing the course.
So hindering were the conditions, the local airport was closed, and, as a result, the medical helicopter on-site was grounded, according to BBC Sport’s Andrew Benson. As we can see here, access to the helicopter is a requirement for racing in Formula One:
Formula 1 @F1
🚩 RED FLAG 🚩Helicopter unable to operate #ChineseGP 🇨🇳 #F1 https://t.co/UyvjjCbuqP
4/7/2017, 3:07:26 AM
After 45 minutes, those in attendance got to see some action, although the drivers were finding the track a test, with Haas men Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen spinning off.
Then Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg made an error and found himself stranded in a gravel trap. That triggered a virtual safety car, and, eventually, with conditions worsening again, another red flag that lasted for the remainder of FP1.
In that time, Verstappen was the quickest of any driver, posting one minute, 50.491 seconds. Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel did not set a time.
Lars Baron/Getty Images
Having sat in the garage for much of the morning, the drivers would have been hoping to get to grips with this testing circuit during the afternoon runs. However, the medical helicopter was still unable to operate as the stint rolled around.
Eventually, with no sign of the weather getting better, it was confirmed there would no running in the afternoon. The F1 Twitter feed gave us an insight into the poor visibility:
Formula 1 @F1
BREAKING: #FP2 will not start – no further action on the track for today
#ChineseGP 🇨🇳 https://t.co/o90peBnbuD
4/7/2017, 7:20:31 AM
Meanwhile, Mercedes man Hamilton used the downtime to interact with some of the supporters who made their way to the track and witnessed very little action, per former F1 driver Karun Chandhok:
Karun Chandhok @karunchandhok
Very impressive to see @LewisHamilton walking along the track and give the fans some presents below our commentary box! https://t.co/41XnQcFhUD
4/7/2017, 7:10:55 AM
The limited time on course means there will be massive pressure on the teams to get things right in Saturday’s final practice, which is only an hour in duration. Hopefully an entertaining qualifying session and a gripping race will make up for a day to forget on Friday.