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China FP2 fails to start as fog prevents helicopter from landing

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Second practice for Formula 1’s Chinese Grand Prix proved to be a non-starter as thick fog in downtown Shanghai prevented the medical helicopter from being able to land at the local hospital.

After seeing the majority of first practice be shelved due to poor weather conditions, race control announced just minutes before FP2 was due to begin that the session would not start until the medical helicopter could operate properly.

Drivers were able to get a handful of laps completed in FP1, but had no such luck in FP2 as conditions in Shanghai meant the session time ticked by without ever starting.

“At the moment it can’t land at the hospital which is about 38 km away unfortunately,” F1 race director Charlie Whiting explained during the session.

“It looks reasonable here, I know, and there are helicopters flying here, but they can’t actually land at the airport which is downtown Shanghai.

“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.”

When asked what the procedure would be if the fog did not clear, Whiting said: “There will be no practice. We have a fixed end for the session. If it’s not cleared by 3:30pm then there won’t be a P2.”

And so 3:30pm came without a single lap being turned, leaving the drivers on the back foot heading into the remainder of the weekend, with just one hour of practice running remaining before qualifying on Saturday. No driver has completed more than eight laps so far this weekend.

The weather forecast for Saturday is better, meaning that FP3 should go ahead as planned at midnight ET on the NBC Sports app before qualifying on NBCSN at 3am ET.

Hamilton tops second Abu Dhabi F1 practice with new track record

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Lewis Hamilton swept to the top of the timesheets in second Formula 1 practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Friday evening, beating Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by one-tenth of a second.

Hamilton trailed Vettel through the daytime-run opening practice session, but managed to strike back by recording a new track record at the Yas Marina Circuit for Mercedes.

Hamilton recorded a fastest lap time of 1:37.877 to finish one-tenth of a second clear of Vettel at the checkered flag, appearing to have an edge across a single lap on the ultra-soft tire.

Red Bull threw its hat into the ring as a possible rival for pole through Daniel Ricciardo, who finished the session third-fastest, three-tenths of a second back from Hamilton at the head of the field.

Kimi Raikkonen ended FP2 in fourth place in the sister Ferrari, finishing within half a second of Hamilton, and managed to edge out fellow Finn Valtteri Bottas, who was a further two-tenths back in P5.

Max Verstappen failed to get in a quick flying lap during FP2, ending the session one second down in P6 for Red Bull.

Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon’s tight intra-team fight at Force India continued through FP2 as the pair were separated by just 0.01 seconds, taking seventh and eighth respectively to finish as the leading midfield drivers.

Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso completed the top 10 for Renault and McLaren, with Felipe Massa following in 11th for Williams on his final Friday appearance in F1.

Massa was fortunate to avoid an accident with Ricciardo during the final 15 minutes of the session after a mix up at the hairpin when the Brazilian tried to get a wider line for the back straight.

Running in Abu Dhabi continues with final practice at Yas Marina on Saturday morning from 5am ET on the NBC Sports app, followed by qualifying at 8am ET on NBCSN.