APRIL 8, 2017
Shanghai clouds threaten China GP
A cloud is literally hanging over this weekend's Chinese grand prix.
On Friday, precious little track action took place because rain, mist and smog made it impossible for the medical helicopter to fly.
"The hospital is 38 kilometres away," said steward Paul Gutjahr. "Even with a police escort, it would take more than an hour (by ambulance)," he told Auto Motor und Sport.
The German report said another hospital is actually just 5 kilometres from the Shanghai circuit, but it does not meet F1's neurosurgery standards.
So with the weather looking set to worsen rather than improve, bosses met frantically to consider rescheduling qualifying and the race, but quickly ruled it out.
Many expressed disappointment with that, especially as the weather on Saturday is better, while the problematic low clouds could return on Sunday.
"I think the drivers just want to race," McLaren chief Zak Brown said. "They don't care if it's Friday, Saturday or Sunday."
He described the TV spectacle on Friday as "terrible".
"What we need moving forward is a contingency plan when this happens," said Brown.
Triple world champion Lewis Hamilton agrees, saying the situation in China is actually a "blessing in disguise" and a test for Liberty Media to come up with a "creative" solution.
But at the moment, qualifying and the race are scheduled to take place as originally scheduled, and Saturday morning practice took place as scheduled.
"The FIA believes that even if Sunday is going to be rainy, the clouds will no longer be so low and the helicopter will be able to fly," said Toro Rosso driver Carlos Sainz.
"I hope so, because it would be a shame to come all the way to China and not race because of weather."