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.