Fog and rain leave an actionless Friday at the Nürburgring

When Formula 1 rearranged the 2020 calendar, they set the return to the Nürburgring, the legendary German circuit located some 50 kilometers from Kerpen, the hometown of the Schumachers, for the second weekend in October. The pieces were fitting together perfectly as the rarest year in recent times progressed, so it was a perfect story to make Mick, the kaiser’s son, debut in an official F1 in the free practice of the Eifel Grand Prix. Everything was planned to leave memorable images, in which the current leader of the F2 was going to shoot before the public who once cheered his father, at the wheel of an Alfa Romeo.

What they did not foresee was the weather. Who would have thought that it would be cold, rainy and foggy in the middle of October in northern Germany? You couldn’t tell. The aftermath was much less memorable scenes than expected. Pilots walking through the pitlane with ice cold, gazes at the sky and announcements every half hour that the session was delayed, until, both in the morning and in the afternoon, with 30 minutes remaining on the scheduled conclusion time, the definitive cancellation of the two sessions was announced.

The reason why they did not allow the cars to go out was not so much the lack of visibility for them, but also that of the medical helicopter. The FIA ​​protocol in this regard is strict: if you cannot take off and land safely from the circuit to the selected hospital (in this case, the one in Koblenz some 20 kilometers away), whatever session (training, qualifying or race) cannot be contested. You can not take risks in an eventual accident that requires immediate evacuation.

Michael Masi, race director, has been forced to look for alternatives to this Koblenz center, although it is not an easy solution. The last precedent was the Chinese Grand Prix, when heavy fog prevented landing at the designated hospital. The next day, another was chosen, once its equipment was updated to meet the required measurements. Numerous accidents have forced those affected to be taken urgently, something that is not always easy. In fact, many circuits that choose to enter the calendar are left out precisely because they do not have a proper medical center in their vicinity.

A wasted day

If for Mick Schumacher or Callum Ilott, his rival and colleague from the Ferrari Drivers Academy who was also going to make his debut this weekend, it was a disappointing Friday, for the rest it was no less so. The drivers who were eager to get into the cars could not do so, in a circuit that many do not know in Formula 1 (most, since they have not competed here since 2013) and others only remember it in passing, of their times in the categories lower.

That is why they spent their idle hours talking with others, chatting with the engineers or simply having a hot drink to help them cope with the intense cold that is hitting the German track this weekend. The lowest temperature ever recorded in a Grand Prix, however, is far from being reached: it was at the 1976 Canadian Grand Prix, when it reached only 5ºC.

This lost Friday turns the traditionally smooth session on Saturdays into a key batch. The third free practice sessions prior to qualifying will be the only opportunity the drivers will have to get their cars ready for the race, as long as the weather does not prevent it. In addition, for some riders it will be the only occasion to test new parts sent to Germany for this race, in the case of a Carlos Sainz who had planned to test the aerodynamic novelties in his MCL35 this Friday.



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