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Max Verstappen fastest in FP1 after Shanghai weather limits running

The first practice session for the Chinese Grand Prix was limited to just under 20 minutes of running after it was twice postponed because the medical helicopter was unable to operate due to weather conditions.

Smog and rain in Shanghai meant the helicopter was unable to land at the designated hospital, automatically bringing a halt to the session on safety grounds. The first stoppage came after just four minutes of green flag running and lasted for 43 minutes with no action on track. The cars returned for 17 minutes of further track time before the second and final stoppage with 26 minutes still remaining on the clock. The second red flag was accompanied by the following message from race control: "The weather conditions have forced the closure of the local airport".

The lost track time will be frustrating for teams hoping to trial new parts ahead of the weekend, but after intermittent showers throughout the morning the track was never dry enough for slick tyres. Lewis Hamilton and the two Ferraris were among six drivers who did not set a time at all after only leaving the pits for a single installation lap and no one managed to rack up more than seven laps. For the record, Max Verstappen was fastest with a 1:50.491 after four laps on the intermediate tyres, with the two Williams were second and third, over 1.5s off the Red Bull's pace.

Both Haas drivers appeared to struggle in the conditions and had half spins in the second sector of the lap, while Nico Hulkenberg's session ended on his fifth lap after he spun off at Turn 2 and beached his car in the gravel. The Renault driver will take some comfort from the fact he missed very little and still had more laps under his belt than half the field.

Rain is not forecast in the afternoon, but whether the conditions will be good enough to allow the helicopter to operate is difficult to predict.