Shanghai’s track is wet on the pit straight and there’s always some worry that the clouds that halted the Formula One Chinese Grand Prix’s practice sessions on Friday will return. Fortunately, Motorsport.com reports that the FIA tweaked the race’s emergency procedures so the F1 grand prix can run rain or shine.
The FIA has certain minimum requirements for the hospital that serves a Formula One race in the event of an emergency, but unfortunately, this hospital was 23.6 miles away—meaning that they would only allow drivers to be airlifted out of there to minimize transport time. Unfortunately, this also meant that the race has to be stopped when low-hanging clouds and smog prevent the helicopter from being able to fly over to the hospital.
However, the FIA regulations will allow an injured driver to be transferred by ambulance in extenuating circumstances so long as they can reach the hospital very quickly. The regulations (as quoted by Motorsport.com) stipulate that:
[The hospital must] be reached in approximately 20 minutes (except for serious burns), regardless of the weather and road traffic conditions (except in a case of force majeure).
There was a closer hospital than the one originally designated only 3.1 miles from the track, but it didn’t have the neurological facilities required by the FIA. Arrangements were made to bring that necessry equipment to the closer hospital, per Motorsport.com. Furthermore, the FIA has arranged for a police escort to help ensure that that any injured personnel can reach that closer hospital under the FIA’s required time limit.
Three Formula One teams—Red Bull, Sauber and Force India—never got any time with Pirelli’s new wet tire compound at all before the Chinese Grand Prix race, per Motorsport.com. Pirelli introduced the newer, softer wet tire after the season started, and as Australian Grand Prix was a dry race, no one tried it until this weekend. Other teams only got very limited time due to the interrupted wet practice sessions on Friday.
Fortunately, several who spoke with Sky Sports just now say that the track is drying, with McLaren driver Stoffel Vandoorne saying that the back of the Shanghai International Circuit even has some dry spots. Regardless of whether they have the helicopter or an ambulance on-call, here’s hoping it’s a good race and no one has to use either one.