The second round of the 2017 FIA Formula One World Championship began with practice Friday under wet and raw conditions at the Shanghai International Circuit as teams attempted to prepare for the Chinese Grand Prix Sunday.
The two 90-minute sessions – FP1 and FP2 – on the 5.451-kilometer (3.387-mile), 16-turn layout were on the day’s docket, but low cloud cover and intermittent drizzle drastically limited on-track running.
After Haas F1 Team drivers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean were first out in FP1 for their respective installation laps on the Pirelli Cinturato Blue full wet tire, the red flag waved. Thick clouds and fog prevented the track’s medical helicopter from traveling to the FIA’s designated hospital if it were needed, resulting in a 43-minute delay.
When the circuit reopened, Magnussen and Grosjean returned with their respective Haas VF-17s outfitted on the Pirelli Cinturato Green intermediate tire. Track conditions remained treacherous, with both drivers enduring minor spins. Magnussen made eight laps and Grosjean six before the red flag was displayed again for the same reason as before, scuttling the remainder of FP1.
Grosjean ended up fifth fastest with a 1:53.039 on his sixth lap and Magnussen was 10th quickest with a 1:55.104 on his seventh lap. Best in the abbreviated session was Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen with a 1:50.491.
Conditions did not improve for FP2. Intermittent drizzle persisted and low cloud cover remained, keeping the medical helicopter grounded. Not a single lap was turned.
“Not a lot can be learned from a day like today,” said team boss Guenther Steiner. “What can you do? We know our cars run, and that’s about it. It’s unfortunate that not a lot of running took place today for anyone, but you also understand why.”
“We all take safety seriously, and if the medical helicopter can’t fly because the conditions won’t allow it, then it can’t fly. It’s pretty straightforward. Tomorrow is supposed to be a much better day weather-wise, making final practice and qualifying that much more important for the race.”