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Bad weather costs F1 drivers practice time for 2017 Chinese Grand Prix, FP2 called off
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Chinese Grand Prix 2017
Posted By: Alex Kalinauckas  |  07 Apr 2017   |  8:35 am GMT  |  87 comments

The second practice session for the 2017 Chinese Grand Prix did not take place as poor weather meant the Formula 1 medical helicopter could not operate in accordance with the championship’s regulations.

Low cloud over Shanghai meant the medical helicopter was not able to land at the designated emergency hospital, so even though aircraft could fly at the Shanghai International Circuit, no on-track action took place.

The lack of running in FP2 leaves the field very short of practice running after Friday’s earlier FP1 session was also heavily disrupted by the same weather and medical helicopter issues.

F1 helicopter

F1 race director Charlie Whiting explained in an interview that was broadcast during FP2 – the session clock started on time and counted down the 90 minutes until it was called off – and he explained the situation preventing the medical helicopter from operating as planned.

“At the moment it can’t land at the hospital, which is about 38km away unfortunately. It looks reasonable here I know and there are helicopters flying here but they can’t land at the airport, which is downtown Shanghai unfortunately,” he said.

“We’re getting news from the airport, which is also affected by the low cloud, every ten minutes. So we’re just keeping up with that. [If things don’t change] there will be no practice. We have a fixed end to the session so if it’s not clear by 3.30pm, there won’t be a P2.”

Lewis Hamilton

That scenario was what eventually came to pass and the session was eventually called off with just over ten minutes of the designated time remaining. Many drivers were filmed sitting in their cars as they waited in vain for conditions to change while Lewis Hamilton waved to fans from the pitwall before later venturing out across the track to hand out Mercedes caps to fans in the main grandstand.

FP1 was delayed for more than 45 minutes due to the medical helicopter problem, and the track was wet after an earlier rain shower. The drivers that did appear when that session did eventually get going – only 14 would set a timed lap – came out on the full wets before quickly changing to the intermediates, and they all only completed a handful of laps.

Max Verstappen topped the times with a 1m50.491s for Red Bull, which was 1.595s quicker than Williams’ Felipe Massa, who was second.

Max Verstappen

Lance Stroll ended up third in the second Williams, 0.421s slower than his team-mate, with Carlos Sainz and Romain Grosjean in fourth and fifth for Toro Rosso and Haas F1.

Daniil Kvyat was sixth, ahead of Fernando Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo and Valtteri Bottas, while Kevin Magnussen rounded out the top ten.

Nico Hulkenberg finished 11th, and the Renault driver caused a virtual safety car by spinning off at Turn 3 as FP1 entered its final third. By the time the marshals had recovered his RS17 a change in the weather meant the medical helicopter problem returned and the session was eventually called off with four minutes left to run on the FP1 clock.

Nico Hulkenberg

Stoffel Vandoorne was 12th for McLaren, ahead of the Sauber pair of Marcus Ericsson and Antonio Giovinazzi.

The rest of the drivers – including Lewis Hamilton and the Ferrari drivers – did not set a flying lap time.

New wet tyres get grand prix weekend debut

The wet running in FP1 did at least mean Pirelli’s 2017 wet weather tyres were given their first test on a grand prix weekend.

The new wet and intermediate rubber was tested on the final day of the first pre-season test in Barcelona, but they were only given limited running as the pre-soaked track quickly dried.

Pirelli’s racing manager Mario Isola explained that the crossover points for the full wets to intermediates would be different this season and that the new tyres meant the drivers could set significantly quicker times than they could with their predecessors.

He said: “Today was the GP debut for our 2017-specification wet and intermediate tyres. We also have a wet weather tyre in a different compound with the target of providing more grip. Its test wasn’t particularly significant due to the lack of running.

“However, we did see a fastest time from Max Verstappen that was seven seconds faster than the intermediate tyre in China last year. With both the wet and intermediate tyres being new this year, the crossover points are different and we saw the teams experimenting with those in FP1.

Kevin Magnussen

“The weather forecast still seems uncertain for the next few days so it’s hard to know what to expect tomorrow and for the race.”

Although there was a limited amount of running in FP1 due to the various disruptions – Magnussen completed the most laps with a total of eight tours – estimates on the new cross-over been the wets and the intermediates can be made.

Sector 1 in China will be 29.3-29.8s (which is 116-118% of a dry time and was 114% back in 2014). Sector 2 will be 35.6-37.0s (which is 123-124% of a dry time and was 122% in 2014), while Sector 3 is expected to be 49.9-50.5s (which is 117-119% of a dry time and was 118% in 2014).

Chinese Grand Prix FP1 results

1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1m50.491s, 4 laps
2 Felipe Massa Williams 1m52.086s +1.595s, 7 laps
3 Lance Stroll Williams 1m52.507s +2.016s, 7 laps
4 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1m52.840s +2.349s, 5 laps
5 Romain Grosjean Haas F1 1m53.039s +2.548s, 6 laps
6 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1m53.314s +2.823s, 4 laps
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1m53.520s +3.029s, 5 laps
8 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1m54.038s +3.547s, 7 laps
9 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1m54.664s +4.173s, 4 laps
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas F1 1m55.104s +4.613s, 8 laps
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault 1m55.608s +5.117s, 6 laps
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1m57.445s +6.954s, 4 laps
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 2m15.138s +24.647s, 4 laps
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber 2m15.281s +24.790s, 4 laps
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault No time set 3 laps
16 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari No time set 2 laps
17 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari No time set 1 laps
18 Esteban Ocon Force India No time set 2 laps
19 Sergio Perez Force India No time set 3 laps
20 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes No time set 2 laps

What did you make of the limited practice running for the Chinese Grand Prix? How do you think it will influence the rest of the weekend? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.

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1

Slightly off this topic, sorry. BUT. As an example of how hopeless FOM or F1.com is – they cannot even display the time of the race events (FP1, 2, 3 etc) in one’s local time! Converting 12:00 CHina time to Western NY is my problem. Caring about having “customers” just isn’t their thing. So frustrating.

2

Liberty will do well to read ALL the comments on this thread. none of us agree with all, but excellent points by most!
and, call it a publicity stunt if you will, but Merc and Lewis stole the show hands down. I am not gonna call it brilliant, but they shaded the entirety of the FIA/LIBERTY/EVERY OTHER DRIVER AND TEAM and made them look like the elitist, prima dona douchebags they are. that was a MEGA rockstar move…

3

Low cloud eh? This is the same low cloud that has blighted about 70% of the days I have spent in China recently by blocking out the sun and giving me a hacking cough. Definitely low cloud and not smog then?

4

What’s the point in even having a opinion on the subject. The moment you post something that someone disagrees with you get grief.
If for instance someone thinks the place is a sh#t hole then they should be able to post those thoughts. If someone disagrees then simply post your own opinion.
Personally they should just race as normal.
I actually think a fatality either on track or on route to hospital afterwards (by whatever means of transport) would at least inject some real danger and excitement into what has become a intensely boring event.

5

Isn’t fine weather in Beijing the exception with chronic smog being the norm? They couldn’t adequately cleanup their unbreathable mess for the Olympics, seems unlikely they could for an F1 weekend.

6

I don’t know where to post this but James, could you tell FOM to broadcast the T-cam on Vettel and Hamilton’s car regularly if possible and stop using that shoulder camera angle. I don’t know why they keep persist on that camera angle while with the others they are always showing the T-cam every single time. I appreciate if you can help.

7

I think the T cam is rubbish. I much prefer the shoulder cam.
It seems that most of the world thinks that drivers see the track from the T cam perspective.

8

On a lighter note

Expected in China: Another Witty Kimi Response (https://www.facebook.com/Formula1/videos/790503337773317/) – It was only one lap, and bit late…

Unexpected in China: A McLaren remains on top for the entire FP2…

9

‘as if you couldn’t get a police escort for an ambulance 38km from the circuit.’

On Sky that’s what they’re saying they will do, or even shut half of the road during quali/race to allow a clear route for the ambulance.

10

Business as usual. The safety rule about medical helicopters is great!

11

I thought Pascal must have found a new role in track and driver safety 😉.

I also remember watching F1 as a kid and background media stories about how wonderful & “world class” the travelling medical facilities in F1 were. How pretty much they could just about do anything on track before hospitalisation was even required. Maybe that went out the window a long time ago, I’m not sure. But it looks pathetic. It’s China, as if you couldn’t get a police escort for an ambulance 38km from the circuit.

12
Tornillo Amarillo

In case of large storms over the circuit or designated hospitals, races should be able to be postponed for the next weekend, and everybody has to accommodate – TV, fans, teams, drivers, etc. Yeah, it’s expensive, I imagine is an insurance business in such a case. But for most of the fans watching it on TV should be just “oh the race has been postponed for next weekend, so let’s go party now”.
So to have back-to-back races like in China and Bahrein wouldn’t help.

But if there is a storm over the designated hospital only, to set up an alternative hospital for the GP weekend should be easier though at this high level.

13

Well the race isn’t on free to air anyway….

14

Yep – Crappiest silver lining ever 😐

15

It was always going to be like this, the date set for this event is terribly, winter hardly over and spring just starting. Anyone could have predicted long in advance that the weather is not going to play along. This is just pure bad planning from the one man show, Lets hope the new owners do better in future. As for the race, all bets are off.

16

Is the life of drivers in the Porsche Cup following the cancelled training considered of such much lower importance that they don’t need a medical helicopter?

17

Said the same thing above. Makes a farce of it all if Porsche drivers can go out but F1 drivers cant.

18

Did it go ahead then? Shocking if that’s the case! Big shunts are perfectly possible in the Porsches.

19

Given that the predictions for Sunday is very similar, why cant they advance the race to Saturday? Monday is not an option as we have Bahrain within a week.

20

Ticket sales TV rights/schedules?

21

So they bin off Sepang but carry on going to that dump China!!!

22

Jim:

“dump China”? Ever been there? How did you form that opinion?

23

Yes Adrian I have been several times as a team member thank you very much. Have you?

24

@jim
And did you get to explore China and it’s culture and history as this team member you’ve been. Great post Jim👍

25

Yes Jim I have…. why is it a dump? It’s just very different to your world is all. I personally wouldn’t choose to live there but that does not make it a dump! The gap between rich and poor exacerbates the bad areas and China is a HUGE country…. is ALL of it a “dump”? I feel your being more than a little harsh. China is a wonderful country with masses of culture and history…. a dump it isn’t. Out of interest which team were you part of?

26

Jim:

Yes mate my wife is Chinese from Shanghai actually and we have lived there and your characterisation of the country as a “dump”……really!!

By the way it was the Malaysian government who pulled the pin on the GP not the FIA. So I guess you’ll have to put up with the Chinese GP after Melbourne come rain or shine.

27

Malaysia said bye bye not the other way. When has F1 ever dropped an event. They would have a chernobyl f1 race if the money was good enough.

28

Charlie didn’t say why other hospitals / landing sites can’t be used. Could this problem have been avoided with better contingency planning?

29

Why no contingencies? This is what I don’t get, and this is why it’s hard not to look farcical.

30

I felt bad for the fans at the track and was really impressed to see Lewis “break the wall” and toss a few caps into the crowd.

31

less practice and track time does point to an exciting and unpredictable race on sunday.
All 1st , 2nd and 3rd practice does is ensure its boring and predictable.
Maybe Liberty should make friday and saturday into a carnival like event with music and driver paticipation in fun events.
One qualifying run late on saturday afternoon then the race sunday which will seem like a much anticipated event
Dunno what the carnival will be like if the weather is bad though lol.

32

F1 is continually being shown up for the farce it is. This would never happen in motogp and they are more likely to need a medical helicopter. Joke!

33

@doogdeb
Then I suggest you stop watching F1, and just watch MotoGP if it’s that much better.

34

http://classic.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/110841

This situation has happened in the past in Moto GP.

35

You’re right, it’s a big joke, right up until a driver is seriously injured and dies because they can’t be airlifted to the hospital.

36

@random
The only thing that’s a joke is the countless posters who seem to have their customary moan about how bad F1 is after every Friday/Sat/Sun. Ironically!

37

True enough.

38

Lets hope the sky will be clear enough in the next couple of days for medical helicopter to fly and the show to go on. It would be interesting to see how the team managed if they can only run in qualifying and the race. I suppose they would rely on last years datas & set up. I feel sorry for the fans that showed up for near nothing but it might make the race if it goes ahead a bit more unpredictable. Marc

39

Bigger farce? Spending 90 minutes to see it end 0:0. Talk about adding insult to injury.

40

Did you follow the MotoGP practice/qualification in Qatar? Yes it happens in MotoGP. Marc

41

[Mod]? Happens all the time in motogp. Happened last race weekend!

42

The sport is really losing a lot of fans and general interest. This is Just pathetic. I can’t imagine this happening in many other sports. I realise there is a big thing about safety in F1 but it’s getting ridiculous and instead of wet weekends being exciting you just know that everything will be dull and cancelled. F1 is a fundamentally dangerous sport and any person who’s raced in cars/bikes before knows the risk they take. I bet the drivers don’t like this cotton wool approach. Something needs to be done, no one wants to see drivers hurt but the overly protective nature of the sport is really doing damage to it in my honest opinion.

43

@tommy
This had nothing to do with wet weather though. As ridiculous as it seems, it was just the hospital that was completely fogged/smogged in. If the helicopter could land there, then the practice would have gone ahead, rain or dry.

44

Couldn’t agree more. Motogp race in much worse conditions than F1 and that is a much, much more dangerous sport.

45

I can’t disagree more. It’s a risk to race for sure. But the TT gets races postponed, Motogp too, and all other racing series, even other sports if the weather is too bad. This is a sensible call. What were people saying after Bianchi crashed?

46
Speedy Gonzales

I think a lot of people were saying: ‘why was a large lump of metal-on-wheels at the edge of the circuit when cars were still running on a wet track’. That’s ultimately what killed Jules. Sorry, I’m not having a go aezy_doc, just still angry about his death.

47

Yes they were saying that (as was I) but they were also asking why the race was run in weather that wasn’t safe? It was a typhoon if I remember. My point being IF an incident occurred and weather was a problem people would be asking the same questions.

48

The sessions were cancelled because the medical chopper couldn’t fly. Everyone should understand that safety is paramount. Besides, this is fairly normal in the US (NASCAR etc), if there’s a little bit of rain they just stop.

49

It is what it is, I am continually surprised that we almost never ever get interruptions to the race weekends. When considering the chances of certain race disruptions that could occur we have been lucky for a very long time. This is just one of those occasions. If this means that testing will have to be condensed into a FP3 tomorrow morning then they should possibly add another 30mins to that and give the teams a modicum more time to test. Apart from that then we may see an upset on sunday as a result of these disruptions and that can’t be too bad. In fact that just might throw a few spanners into a few works, and that can’t be bad as it is what it is.

50

very true – and on the rare occasion they have had qualifying and the race on the same day .. made it incredibly interesting to watch

51

I can see it from both perspective’s and whilst neither one I totally agree with its a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
A driver goes off in those damp conditions and suffers a traumatic head like Jules did and the care needed isn’t within reach. That’s a risk F1 can’t afford to take. The chances of that happening are quite slim considering the current level of safety both within the cars and the tracks themselves though.
Formula One and society in general tend to favour the ‘safety first’ approach so we may find situations like these arising more often in the future with similar situations of inclement weather.
The same issues proved problematic for a recent Moto GP race at Motegi in Japan and, like whats expected to happen in China over the weekend, the program was merely condensed.
I really don’t believe there is a way to avoid something like this in the future. It is what it is and what will be will be…

52

@sars
This should make the GPPredictor exciting. It’s giving me headaches😄. Changed several times now!

53

It should be very exciting James and unfortunately I’ll be out all day unable to watch it. Have cleared the schedule for Sunday though so hoping we see these cars in a wet race for the first time.
As for GP Predictor, I spent all of a minute and just put the wet weather specialists of Vettel, Hamilton and Vestappen at the top. Closed my eyes and then randomly picked the rest.
Oh and thanks for the reminder. Do it every race for us will you!

54

@sars
That’s the last time I remind you of GPPredictor! 😂
But I do think you should get an extra 20 points for the most overtakes in one session😉👍🏻 Aussie git😄🍻

55

The chances were also very slim at Suzuka back in 2014 – but it happened, and the medical care wasn’t available in time. Of course, the bigger issue there was that there was a tractor on the track, but the fact that the weather had closed in meant that a ground evacuation was required rather than an airborne one.

If somebody had had a big shunt today (which is more likely in the rain than the dry) and been unable to get to hospital in time, there would be just as many comments here to the effect that it was ridiculous to let the drivers out when the organisers knew that there was a question mark over safety.

So even if it’s frustrating for the fans, we should look on the positive side – everybody is still alive and well tonight, and ready to drive again tomorrow.

56

Wasn’t a ground evacuation done on the grounds of the type of injury? They said an airborne evacuation could have been more damaging due to the vibrations of the helicopter.

57

Did they let a bunch of tactors loose around the track?

58

No, everyone was very outspoken with no regards to feelings 🙂

59

Wow, James I’ve read they are even considering pushing the race back till Monday. Any truth to that?

60

According to Autosport Monday’s not an option because the equipment wouldn’t reach Bahrain on time.

61

I’ve always wanted to see an elimination style F1 Amazing Race 🙂

62

They can’t do that. TV companies won’t like that .I am 100% confident the race will go ahead on Sunday.

63

I understand that the race might be called off too unless it is moved to Saturday. Will people who came to see cars running on track are goong to get ticket refunds?

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