Chinese GP: Verstappen fastest as poor weather ruins FP1

Max Verstappen topped a truncated first free practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix as poor weather conditions brought an end to running because the medical helicopter was unable to fly.

Chinese GP: Verstappen fastest as poor weather ruins FP1
Lance Stroll, Williams FW40
Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes AMG F1 W08
Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB13
Sergio Perez, Force India
Carlos Sainz Jr., Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12
Chinese fans wave Brazilian flags
Fernando Alonso, McLaren MCL32
Antonio Giovinazzi, Sauber
Max Verstappen, Red Bull, talks to Nico Hulkenberg, Renault Sport F1 Team
Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull Racing RB13
Lance Stroll, Williams
Wet weather Pirelli tyre
The Williams team makes a practice pit stop
Track atmosphere

Red Bull’s Verstappen lapped in 1m50.491s on intermediate tyres, ahead of Williams duo Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll.

The Red Bull Racing driver made the best of the very limited running on offer, emerging from the garage on inters at just the right time to end up 1.5s clear of Massa and Stroll.

It took more than 45 minutes for the session to properly get going, thanks to a lengthy red flag. The stoppage was initially called just seconds after the session had started, due to weather conditions in Shanghai being unsuitable for the medical helicopter to land at the hospital if needed.

It wasn’t until 12:47pm local time, 47 minutes after the session started, that the track went green again.

While not actually raining, the circuit was still wet, the majority of drivers appearing on wets before quickly switching to intermediates.

The changeover proved a little tricky for the Haas drivers, both Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean spinning on the intermediates.

It was Lance Stroll that set the first step forwards on the inters, turning a 1m54.508s into a 1m52.507s to go fastest.

Verstappen then proved beyond doubt that the intermediate was the best compound, moving ahead of Stroll with a 1m52.266s before immediately improving to a 1m50.491s.

That wound up being the best time of the session. With half an hour to go a virtual safety car was called while crews retrieved Nico Hulkenberg’s beached Renault from the Turn 3 gravel trap.

And by the time that was cleared, the red flag was back out as conditions grounded the medical helicopter again. With four minutes to run, and no sign of improvement in the weather, the session was called off.

Verstappen ended up 1.5s clear of the two Williams drivers, with Grosjean splitting Toro Rosso drivers Carlos Sainz and Daniil Kvyat behind the top three.

Fernando Alonso was the last of the drivers in the 1m53s in seventh, Daniel Ricciardo down in eighth, 3.5s slower than his teammate, after seven laps on the inters.

The premature end to the session meant none of the Mercedes or Ferrari drivers were anywhere near the front of the field. Valtteri Bottas did the most running of the ‘big four’, just four laps on the wet tyres leaving him ninth in the times.

Lewis Hamilton didn’t set a time, having been strapped in an ready for a run right as the second red flag was called. It was a similar story for Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, neither setting a time.

Chinese GP FP1 times

PosDriverChassisTimeGap
1 netherlands  Max Verstappen  Red Bull 1'50.491  
2 brazil  Felipe Massa  Williams 1'52.086 1.595
3 canada  Lance Stroll  Williams 1'52.507 2.016
4 spain  Carlos Sainz Jr.  Toro Rosso 1'52.840 2.349
5 france  Romain Grosjean  Haas 1'53.039 2.548
6 russia  Daniil Kvyat  Toro Rosso 1'53.314 2.823
7 spain  Fernando Alonso  McLaren 1'53.520 3.029
8 australia  Daniel Ricciardo  Red Bull 1'54.038 3.547
9 finland  Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes 1'54.664 4.173
10 denmark  Kevin Magnussen  Haas 1'55.104 4.613
11 germany  Nico Hulkenberg  Renault 1'55.608 5.117
12 belgium  Stoffel Vandoorne  McLaren 1'57.445 6.954
13 sweden  Marcus Ericsson  Sauber 2'15.138 24.647
14 italy  Antonio Giovinazzi  Sauber 2'15.281 24.790
15 united_kingdom  Jolyon Palmer  Renault    
16 germany  Sebastian Vettel  Ferrari    
17 finland  Kimi Raikkonen  Ferrari    
18 france  Esteban Ocon  Force India    
19 mexico  Sergio Perez  Force India    
20 united_kingdom  Lewis Hamilton  Mercedes    
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