A washed out day on Friday saw very little running for the teams in a heavily interrupted First Practice session, while the Second Practice session was ultimately abandoned due to the weather. Here’s our Friday Practice report!
Six minutes into the session, the Red Flag came out. The reasoning for the stoppage was that the medical helicopter couldn’t lad at the designated hospital in Shanghai due to the low cloud and fog. The session was delayed for over half an hour. As is always the case with Practice sessions, the time continued to count down despite the Red Flag.
With just over half of the session time remaining, the session restarted. Kevin Magnussen was first to spin on the damp track, before he ran wide again a few moments later. Felipe Massa also found his FW38 running further off track than he had intended it to, as did Carlos Sainz in his Toro Rosso.
Nico Hulkenberg lost his car under braking and spun into a gravel trap, bringing out the Virtual Safety Car.
The session was not restarted, as the weather conditions had led to the closure of the local airport. Hulkenberg said of his accident:
“Unfortunately there’s not much to say about today. I did get one flying lap on the intermediate tyres but that was it. We made a front wing adjustment and I was starting another flying lap when I was caught out and spun at the entry to turn three. Sadly the car ended up in the gravel so that was the end of my session. Running was stopped shortly afterwards due to the helicopter issue so we didn’t lose out today.”
The drivers completed just 124 laps between them. Max Verstappen set the fastest time of the day, on intermediate tyres. The time he set was seven seconds quicker than the quickest time set on the intermediate tyres in 2016.
Full result from Practice 1:
The practice session that never was. For the same reasons as the morning session, Second Practice was abandoned. No driver set a time or started a lap. The lack of running means that the teams and drivers head into the rest of the weekend having not done any race simulations, which could make Sunday even more intriguing.
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 7, 2017
Perhaps the most amusing moment of the ‘session’ was when the camera picked up a gang of Sebastian Vettel fans who had spelled out his name, wrongly, in the grandstands. Upon seeing the ‘VETTEE’ banner on the TV from the cockpit of his car, the Ferrari driver made an L signal with his hand. The camera later cut back to the fans who had rectified the error, much to Vettel’s delight.
— Formula 1 (@F1) April 7, 2017
Lewis Hamilton also kept the crowd entertained by going out across the track to the main grandstand and throwing caps into the crowd. Hamilton, among other drivers, was left frustrated by today’s lack of running:
“Obviously not a great day. I’ve only done one lap on the 2017 wet tyres so far this year and, from what I could tell on that out-lap, they feel pretty similar to last year’s so I don’t have any particular worries over it. But there’s a bigger picture today. The track was absolutely fine and we could have run all day today with no issue if it weren’t for the clouds. It’s not good for the fans watching on TV and even worse for all those people in the stands, who have paid money to come out here from the city or even from other countries. They’ve barely seen a car on track today, which must be tough for them. We need to work together with the FIA and FOM to find a solution or an alternative plan of some kind when we have circumstances like this in the future.”
With Sunday’s weather forecast looking as bad as it was for today, the teams and the FIA met to discuss the possibility of moving the Grand Prix forward to Saturday. No agreement was reached and the weekend will go ahead as planned, with what is set to be a frantic Third Practice and Quaifying on Saturday followed by the main event on Sunday.