FP1: Verstappen quickest in red-flagged session


Max Verstappen set the pace on a cold and grey Friday morning in Shanghai in a practice that was red flagged twice because the medical helicopter was unable to fly in the conditions.

The session was red flagged after five minutes with the FIA reporting “session stopped, medical helicopter not able to operate.”

As dense cloud covered Shanghai on a cold and grey morning, visibility deteriorated meaning the helicopter was “not able to land at the designated hospital” and therefore the cars were not permitted to run.

The session remained red flagged until 10:47 local time leaving the drivers with just under half of FP1 to run.

Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean had spins at Turn 9, Felipe Massa cut the grass as he slid off the track, Carlos Sainz lost the back end of his STR under braking and Max Verstappen set the early pace – a 1:50.491.

The Virtual Safety Car came out when Nico Hulkenberg spun and beached his Renault in the kitty litter at Turn 3.

Minutes later the session was red flagged for the second time due to medical helicopter “not able to operate” again. The FIA revealed that the “weather conditions have forced the closure of the local airport.”

FP1 did not resume with Verstappen finishing P1, 1.595s up on Felipe Massa while Lance Stroll was third, a further four-tenths off the pace.

Sebastian Vettel, Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen, Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon and Jolyon Palmer did not set times.

1 Max Verstappen Red Bull 1:50.491 4 laps
2 Felipe Massa Williams 1:52.086 1.595    7 laps
3 Lance Stroll Williams 1:52.507 2.016    7 laps
4 Carlos Sainz Toro Rosso 1:52.840 2.349 5 laps
5 Romain Grosjean Haas 1:53.039 2.548 6 laps
6 Daniil Kvyat Toro Rosso 1:53.314 2.823 4 laps
7 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:53.520 3.029 5 laps
8 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:54.038 3.547 7 laps
9 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 1:54.664 4.173 4 laps
10 Kevin Magnussen Haas 1:55.104 4.613 8 laps
11 Nico Hulkenberg Renault Sport 1:55.608 5.117 6 laps
12 Stoffel Vandoorne McLaren 1:57.445 6.954 4 laps
13 Marcus Ericsson Sauber 2:15.138 24.647 4 laps
14 Antonio Giovinazzi Sauber 2:15.281 24.79 4 laps
15 Jolyon Palmer Renault Sport no time 3 laps
16 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari no time 2 laps
17 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari no time 1 lap
18 Esteban Ocon Force India no time 2 laps
19 Sergio Perez Force India no time 3 laps
20 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes no time 2 laps