Both F1 Germany practices canceled, scrubbing Mick Schumacher’s debut

F1 Germany practices canceled
Mario Renzi - Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

NURBURG, Germany — Friday’s F1 practices for the Eifel Grand Prix were canceled because of bad weather, keeping Michael Schumacher’s son Mick from his first official drive as part of a Formula One race weekend.

Low clouds and mist made for poor visibility around the Nurburgring track. It was declared unsafe to deploy the medical helicopter because of unfavorable weather between the track and nearest hospital.

The helicopter is required under F1 safety rules and must be able to fly any casualties to the hospital at high speed.

“With the fog that’s come in, the medical helicopter is not able to take off and fly to the hospital,” race director Michael Masi said during the first session. “The distance by road is far too far should something occur.”

A third practice session is scheduled Saturday before qualifying.

Cold and wet weather is expected for all three days of the race weekend at the hilly, forested Nurburgring track in western Germany. Team staff wore large coats and wool hats along with their mandatory masks, while spectators tried to keep warm in the stands.

Teams have little knowledge of how the tires will behave in the unusually cold weather on a track that hasn’t been used by F1 for seven years.

Drivers had plenty of time to kill. Renault published a video of Daniel Ricciardo playing basketball with a ball of rolled-up paper and a garbage can. Williams’ George Russell performed soccer tricks with a rubber duck, and his teammate Nicholas Latifi fetched coffee and tea for the mechanics.

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton is aiming to win his 91st career F1 race on Sunday. That would put him equal with Michael Schumacher’s record.

However, preparations at Hamilton’s Mercedes team have been disrupted by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Mercedes said Friday a second crew member had tested positive for the virus, following a first positive case Thursday, and that a third person gave an “inconclusive result.” Six backup crew members have flown in from Britain to replace those who are in quarantine either following a positive test or because of their contact with people who were positive.

Formula Two standings leader Mick Schumacher was scheduled to take part in the first practice session for the first time, borrowing Antonio Giovinazzi’s Alfa Romeo. Another F2 title challenger, British driver Callum Ilott, was with the Haas team for the session, assigned to Romain Grosjean’s car.

Both Schumacher and Ilott are part of Ferrari’s development program and they were placed with teams that use Ferrari engines. It’s unclear when they might get another chance to join a team for practice.

The next three races are all on tracks which are either new to F1, like Portimao in Portugal, or haven’t been on the calendar for years, as with Imola in Italy and Istanbul in Turkey. The regular drivers will need time to learn them.

Mick Schumacher met with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel in the pit lane Friday. They shared a fist bump after Vettel showed the younger German his helmet for the race, which bears a tribute to Michael Schumacher.

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
James Gilbert/Getty Images

Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.