China FP2 session abandoned over visibility concerns

The whole of Friday’s Free Practice 2 in China has been cancelled because of poor weather.

The 90-minute afternoon session never got underway because of concerns with poor visibility in the area. The safety helicopter was unable to land at the designated hospital, 38km away from Shanghai International Circuit.

The track is too far away to transport any injured personnel by ground within the time allowed under the FIA’s safety protocols. That meant race control was unable to allow the session to commence.

The clock continued to tick down. It was eventually confirmed that there was no chance of rescheduling the practice session for later in the day. With 15 minutes remaining, race control announced that FP2 would not start.

It was frustrating for teams and drivers who were left milling around in the pit lane, and also for the fans in the grandstand.

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Lewis Hamilton provided a rare highlight by getting the race organisers to open the gates on pit wall. That allowed him to cross the track and get up close and personal with the waiting fans on the other side.

He spent time taking videos of the crowd on his phone for social media. He also signed some merchandise and distributed it to some lucky fans.

But that was the only track action seen in Shanghai in the afternoon. The morning session had also been severely curtailed, with just 22 minutes of track time in total before itself being abandoned.

The forecast for Saturday morning is much better, and it’s hoped that there will be no interruptions to FP3 or to qualifying.

However the weather is expected to deteriorate on Saturday night and into Sunday morning. That’s raised concerns that the Grand Prix might itself also be affected.

There had been some speculation that the FIA might consider moving the race forward. However, official sources said that was not being considered at this stage.

The race can’t be delayed to Monday as teams have to pack up and fly to Bahrain for next weekend’s race.

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