Chinese GP - Friday - Practice Session 2 Report
By Dan Knutson
Free Practice 2 for the Chinese Grand Prix followed the same holding pattern as FP1 with the cars and drivers in the garages and the medical helicopter grounded. The problem was not so much the weather at the track but rather the foggy conditions at the hospital 23 miles (38km) away in downtown Shanghai where the helicopter would be unable to land.
The ambient temperature at what should have been the start of the 90-minute session was 55 degrees Fahrenheit (13 degrees Centigrade) and the track temperature was 61 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Centigrade.)
The lineup for the weekend was: Mercedes ‚Äì Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas; Red Bull TAG Heuer ‚Äì Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen; Ferrari ‚Äì Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen; Force India Mercedes ‚Äì Sergio Perez and Esteban Ocon; Williams Mercedes ‚Äì Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll; McLaren Honda ‚Äì Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne; Renault ‚Äì Nico Hulkenberg and Jolyon Palmer; Toro Rosso Renault ‚Äì Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz; Haas Ferrari ‚Äì Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen; Sauber Ferrari ‚Äì Marcus Ericsson and Antonio Giovinazzi.
"Shanghai is a really quirky track," Alonso said of the 3.387-mile (5.451-km) 16-turn circuit. "Turn 1 is actually my favorite corner on the whole calendar ‚Äì and it provides a good test for the driver with a high average speed compared to the street circuit of Melbourne. I'm looking forward to seeing what the new cars are capable of there, and I hope we can at least have a trouble-free race and see where we are when the checkered flag falls."
But first there was FP2 in which nothing was happening. As in FP1, the clock continued to count down, so the session would end after 90 minutes even if the drivers did not get out on track.
"We're getting news from the airport which is also affected by the low cloud," race director Charlie Whiting told TV reporters. "We're getting news every 10 minutes. We're just keeping up with that."
What was the protocol if clouds don't clear?
"There will be no practice," Whiting replied. "We have a fixed end for the session. If it's not cleared by 3:30pm then there won't be a P2."
The halfway point of the session came and went with no track action.
A frustrated Ricciardo told NBC TV: "You want to drive, you get pumped up for the weekend, and each lap is important."
There were not that many fans in the grandstands, but those who were there were getting bored and wet.
Hamilton brightened their day by crossing the track to greet the fans in the main stand, and to throw them some signed caps.
Twelve minutes remained in FP2 when race control stated that the session would not take place. Unlike FP1 when the drivers got in a handful of laps between red flags, they did not do any laps at all in FP2.
Worryingly, the weather is supposed to be the same on race day.