Rosberg leads FP1 in China as tire failures interrupt session

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Nico Rosberg led the way for Mercedes in an interrupted first practice for the Chinese Grand Prix after three separate left-rear tire failures occurred during Friday morning’s session.

Rosberg and Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton surged to another one-two finish in FP1, but the biggest talking point at the end of practice were the three tire failures that sparked two red flag periods.

Felipe Massa suffered a failure on his left-rear less than 20 minutes into the session, with the tire coming loose from the rim and leaving debris strewn across the track, prompting a red flag.

Massa was able to return to the pits and get back out after Williams had fixed his car, only to suffer a puncture on his left-rear once again on his outlap.

Minutes later, Kevin Magnussen suffered a sizeable failure on his left rear tire, breaking the rear suspension on his Renault and once again causing the session to be red flagged.

Questions were immediately asked of Formula 1 tire supplier Pirelli, but McLaren reported that it believed Massa’s issues to be caused by bodywork rubbing the car while Magnussen’s was the result of debris on track.

A lengthy delay followed as the track was swept and cleared of debris before the session resumed with eight minutes remaining, prompting a flurry of quick lap times.

Hamilton had sat quickest for much of the session, but a fast lap from Rosberg with four minutes remaining saw him rise to P1 at the checkered flag.

Hamilton was forced to settle for P2 in the second Mercedes, 0.146 seconds behind, while Sebastian Vettel followed in third place for Ferrari.

Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth for Red Bull ahead of teammate Daniil Kvyat in P6, the pair split by Kimi Raikkonen in the second Ferrari.

Carlos Sainz Jr. led Toro Rosso’s charge in seven ahead of Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg, while teammate Max Verstappen rounded out the top 10.

Second practice in China is live on NBCSN and Live Extra from 2am ET on Friday.

Jo Shimoda joins Seth Hammaker, Austin Forkner on injured list; Musquin remains out

Shimoda injured
Feld Motor Sports/MX Sports Pro Racing/Align Media
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Bad news continues to come out of the Monster Energy / Pro Circuit Kawasaki team as they announced Jo Shimoda injured his shoulder in a practice session and will not mount up when the Monster Energy Supercross 250 East division opens in Houston, Texas on February 4. A timetable has not been given for Shimoda’s return, but a press release from the team references multiple weeks.

“I’m doing my best to focus forward on my return to racing,” said Shimoda in the release. “Our goal was to compete for the 250 Supercross Eastern Regional Championship and I know we had been doing the right work to make that happen. Unfortunately, this crash will cause me to miss the start of the season, but I still aim to be back on the track racing for wins before the end of Supercross.”

Shimoda is joined on the sidelines by teammates Seth Hammaker and Austin Forkner, who also suffered injuries in recent weeks.

The news of Hammaker’s sidelining came just two days ago. His wrist injury is sufficient to require surgery, so he too will miss multiple weeks. Hammaker was scheduled to compete in the 250 East division alongside Shimoda.

Forkner was involved in a Lap 1 crash in the 250 West season opener at Anaheim. Multiple injuries, including an ACL tear, will sideline him for the remainder of the season. He described the injury and its aftermath on Instagram.

Forkner will be relieved by Carson Mumford, but not before that rider’s wrist has healed sufficiently. He is scheduled to debut with Kawasaki in Oakland for the rescheduled Round 2 Supercross race on February 18.

Shimoda finished fourth in the 2022 Supercross 250 West division and was second in 2021 points in 250 East. In 2021, Shimoda won his first Supercross race at Salt Lake City. Last year, he scored one podium and six top-fives in nine starts.

Shimoda finished second in last year’s outdoor Lucas Oil Pro Motocross season, where he added two more SuperMotocross wins including the Unadilla Nationals that kicked off a four-race streak of first- or second-place results.

Kawasaki is not the only team facing injury. Red Bull KTM initially reported Marvin Musquin would be out for the San Diego round with a wrist injury and “maybe more”. This week it was announced he will miss this week’s Triple Crown race in Anaheim and “at least the next several rounds.”