NÜRBURG, Germany (AP) — Both Friday practice sessions for the Eifel Grand Prix were canceled because of bad weather, keeping Michael Schumacher's son Mick from his first official drive as part of a Formula One race weekend.
Low clouds and mist made for poor visibility around the Nürburgring track. It was declared unsafe to deploy the medical helicopter because of unfavorable weather between the track and nearest hospital.
The helicopter is required under F1 safety rules and must be able to fly any casualties to the hospital at high speed.
“With the fog that’s come in, the medical helicopter is not able to take off and fly to the hospital,” race director Michael Masi said during the first session. “The distance by road is far too far should something occur.”
A third practice session is scheduled for Saturday before qualifying.
Cold and wet weather is expected for all three days of the race weekend at the hilly, forested Nürburgring track in western Germany. Team staff wore large coats and wool hats along with their mandatory masks, while spectators tried to keep warm in the stands.
Teams have little knowledge of how the tires will behave in the unusually cold weather on a track which hasn't been used by F1 for seven years.
Drivers had plenty of time to kill. Renault published a video of Daniel Ricciardo playing basketball with a ball of rolled-up paper and a garbage can. Williams' George Russell performed soccer tricks with a rubber duck and his teammate Nicholas Latifi fetched coffee and tea for the mechanics.
Championship leader Lewis Hamilton is aiming to win his 91st career F1 race on Sunday. That would put him equal with Michael Schumacher’s record.
However, preparations at Hamilton's Mercedes team have been disrupted by the coronavirus. Mercedes said Friday a second crew member had tested positive for the virus, following a first positive case Thursday, and that a third person gave an “inconclusive result.” Six backup crew members have flown in from Britain to replace those who are in quarantine either following a positive test or because of their contact with people who were positive.
Formula Two standings leader Mick Schumacher was scheduled to take part in the first practice session for the first time, borrowing Antonio Giovinazzi's Alfa Romeo. Another F2 title challenger, British driver Callum Ilott, was with the Haas team for the session, assigned to Romain Grosjean's car.
Both Schumacher and Ilott are part of Ferrari's development program and they were placed with teams which use Ferrari engines. It's unclear when they might get another chance to join a team for practice.
The next three races are all on tracks which are either new to F1, like Portimao in Portugal, or haven't been on the calendar for years, as with Imola in Italy and Istanbul in Turkey. The regular drivers will need time to learn them.
Mick Schumacher met with four-time champion Sebastian Vettel in the pit lane Friday and Vettel showed the younger German his helmet for the race, which bears a tribute to Michael Schumacher, and they shared a fist bump.
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