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Day one of the 2017 Chinese Grand Prix weekend was, like so many things to come out of China, a cheap imitation of the actual product.
With some rain and mainly fog hampering the on-track proceedings, it was difficult to glean much insight as to the shape of the grid, but hey, it wouldn’t be Formula 1 if there wasn’t plenty to talk about off of it.
Case-in-point, the latest in the ongoing trials of Fernando Alonso, who (per NBC Sports’ Will Buxton) “seems destroyed” by the ongoing crapulence at McLaren. Every man has a breaking point, maybe he’s finally reached his? Perhaps the famously generous Chinese fans will bring something to cheer him up, like a new car, or a fast-acting poison.
Elsewhere, the wet weather meant motorsport’s finest had plenty of time on their hands, with some using it better than others. Among the highlights was Lewis Hamilton giving away free “LH 2016 World Champion” caps, Daniil Kvyat shouting out his legions of fans, and Romain Grosjean talking to himself. Yeah, it’s definitely better when they’re in the cockpit.
As for the practice sessions themselves, well… FP1 saw Williams finish P2 & 3, and that’s about sums it up.
The only real news of substance was a Pirelli report that the new inters are seven seconds quicker than the old ones (maybe that’s where the other two seconds of dry pace went we were supposed to get in Melbourne) but let’s be honest, there’s been Kimi Raikkonen press conferences more illuminating.
Thankfully we should see some proper running with a clear (if cloudy) forecast for Saturday, but with all this rain for practice let’s just hope they saved some for Sunday.
On a related note, with all this disruption to the regular schedule, the format of race weekends has once again come under the microscope.
Fridays have long been a difficult day to market, as even at the best of times, it has relatively low stakes and a dearth of consistent on-track action – if the FIA was liable to try something like Lewis Hamilton’s idea of a three practice Saturday and qualy-race Sunday, it would certainly open the door for future shakeups.
A reverse-grid race? Pre-qualifying? A 100 meters foot sprint? Whatever the idea, there’s certainly room for improvement.
Shanghai Friday Review by Ben Stevens