The opening day of the Eifel GP was scrapped due to poor weather at the Nurburgring, with both Friday practice sessions cancelled amid persistent rain and fog.
The lack of track action means Formula 1’s teams and drivers head into Saturday’s crucial qualifying day with no data on a circuit which is making its return this season after seven years off the calendar.
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With the circuit cloaked in heavy fog throughout the day, the medical helicopter was unable to fly safely and so both practice sessions followed the same pattern.
The pit-lane was never opened at the scheduled start time of P1 and P2, and subsequent half-hour updates saw no improvement in the weather and thus meant no cars went out on track.
“So it’s a two-day weekend for the teams, effectively,” said Sky F1’s Ted Kravitz.
“They’ve seen this before. It’s questionable how much running they would have done anyway with the wet conditions and wet tyre restrictions.
“Tomorrow is brighter, with sunshine forecast, with the odd patch of rain on Sunday.”
There is only one scheduled practice session before qualifying on Saturday. Practice Three will start at 11am on Sky Sports F1, before qualifying at 2pm – with build-up from 1pm.
“I don’t mind, I actually like [the shortened weekend],” said Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. “It makes everything a bit more tricky and interesting.”
Why didn’t F1 practice go ahead on Friday?
Not only did no track action ruin teams’ run plans ahead of the weekend, but it denied two budding youngsters – Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott – F1 practice debuts for Alfa Romeo and Haas respectively.
The rain was never torrential, so that was not the reason for the lack of running. The thick fog, however, was.
“The dampness is fine it’s just that the medical helicopter is not able to fly to the receiving hospital due to fog,” explained FIA race director Michael Masi.
“So even though we have the broadcast helicopter flying around the circuit, to go from here to any of the hospitals should something happen it’s not possible and therefore from a safety perspective we would not start the session.”
It’s the second time this season there has been an F1 session cancelled, with the Styrian GP Practice Three scrapped due to heavy rain in 2020’s second round in Austria.
Last year, the whole Saturday of the Japanese GP was scrapped due to Typhoon Hagibis, with qualifying instead moved to Sunday. Masi said F1 have back-up plans for this weekend, even though the “forecast looks better”.
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