Chinese Grand Prix: Max Verstappen tops a shortened FP1 while FP2 canceled
By: S. Harding, Xiro Xone News April 7, 2017 Updated: 1:22 AM
Photo: Red Bull Racing
As the race weekend gets underway for the Chinese Grand Prix, today's first practice session was reduced to under 20 minutes after two postponements due to weather conditions which prevented the medical helicopter from landing at the nearby hospital.
The first red flag lasted about 43 minutes. Cars then returned for 17 minutes before the second and final red flag leaving 26 minutes still remaining.
The limited time on the track left many teams frustrated, hoping to trial new parts ahead of the weekend. At the end, Red bull's Max Verstappen set the fastest time with a 1:50.491 after only four laps on the intermediate tires.
"We haven’t been able to test anything on the car since Australia, and it’s unfortunate that due to the delays today we just didn’t get the running time we had hoped for, it also meant we don’t have a lot of track data to review," said Verstappen.
Williams' Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll were second and third and were 1.5s off Red Bull's pace.
"We did a few laps on the wet tires, which felt OK in the few laps I did, but it was not really enough to understand the tires. We had a few laps with barely anyone on track. Whilst safety is so important, it was a fairly uneventful Friday and I hope we can have nicer conditions on Saturday and Sunday for us on track, but also for the fans so they get to see the spectacle of the race," said Massa.
"You can’t change the weather, it is what it is, and it was such a shame for the fans that they didn’t get to see us on track," said Stroll. "It’s obviously not ideal, as for me it was the first time here and the first time in a Formula One car in the wet, so I would have liked to have run a bit more today. The conditions were not fully wet, so I was on intermediates and, as the track was drying, it was even becoming a bit too dry for them."
Haas drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean struggled in the wet conditions with both cars spinning, while Renault's Nico Hulkenberg finished on his fifth lap after spinning into the gravel at Turn 2.
“It wasn’t a great afternoon for anyone, for us, the fans, the TV viewers, anyone waking up back in Europe. We managed a few laps in the morning, which is better than nothing, and I’ve got a few ideas of work we need to do and where we need to go. We were planning to try that in FP2 but, obviously, that didn’t happen. It’s going to be a very busy Saturday morning and we’re going to think about what the race is going to be. The car didn’t feel too bad, so I’m pretty encouraged by that. We’ll see how things develop through the weekend," said Grosjean.
Later the second practice session was canceled due to the same conditions. FIA race director Charlie Whiting gave an update during the session: "We're getting news from the airport which is also affected by the low cloud, we're getting news every 10 minutes. We're just keeping up with that."
Many fans who seldom get the credit for the time and effort they put into creating the many colorful and creative costumes, banners, and gifts to show their support for their driver or team got some air time during the session.
Photo: Mercedes AMG Petronas
But it was Lewis Hamilton who thought outside of the box and took the time to engage with fans signing hats throwing them in the crowd while sharing the moment with millions of his fans on social media during the final half hour.
"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," said Hamilton.