Even Verstappen was more than 15 seconds off Nico Rosberg's 2016 pole-setting lap time. Picture: Aly Song / Reuters

Shanghai, China - The opening practice session for the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix was halted twice then abandoned because the medical support helicopter was unable to operate in poor visibility on Friday.

The 90-minute session was finally called off with five minutes remaining on the clock at a drizzly and misty Shanghai International Circuit.

Fourteen drivers set a time during the brief window of track action, going out on a mix of intermediate and wet-weather tyres.

Teenager Max Verstappen was fastest in his Red Bull, lapping the 5.4 kilometre circuit in 1m50.491s. His time was more than 15 seconds slower than Nico Rosberg needed to secure pole position for the 2016 race, an indication of the limited usefulness of the curtailed session.

Championship favourite Lewis Hamilton, who heads into Sunday's race determined to strike back against a resurgent Ferrari by racing to a fifth win in China, did not set a time in his Mercedes.

Sebastian Vettel, winner of the March season-opener in Australia, did not set a time either, with his Ferrari team mate Kimi Raikkonen also limiting himself to a single installation lap.


Several drivers were caught out by snaps of oversteer in the cool and damp conditions. Most got going again but Nico Hulkenberg beached his Renault in the gravel, returning to the pits on the back of a scooter.

"The weather conditions have forced the closure of the local airport," read a message on the timing screens.

The first suspension was prompted by the medical helicopter being unable to land at the designated hospital in Shanghai, while a message on the timing screens when the session was halted for the second time said the "local airport" had been closed - although television helicopters continued to hover above the circuit throughout.


1 Max Verstappen (Netherlands) Red Bull - 1m50.491

2. Felipe Massa (Brazil) Williams - 1:52.086

3 Lance Stroll (Canada) Williams - 1:52.507

4 Carlos Sainz Jr (Spain) Toro Rosso - 1:52.840

5 Romain Grosjean (France) Haas - 1:53.039

6 Daniil Kvyat (Russia) Toro Rosso - 1:53.314

7 Fernando Alonso (Spain) McLaren - 1:53.520

8 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Red Bull - 1:54.038

9 Valtteri Bottas (Finland) Mercedes 1:54.664

10 Kevin Magnussen (Denmark) Haas - 1:55.104 

11 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Renault -1:55.608

12 Stoffel Vandoorne (Belgium) McLaren - 1:57.445

13 Marcus Ericsson (Sweden) Sauber - 2:15.138

14 Antonio Giovinazzi (Italy) Sauber - 2:15.281

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