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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.

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.