Formula 1 race director Michael Masi says “back-up plans” are being formulated in order to ensure that the cars can run at the Nurburgring on Saturday.
On a damp and foggy day Friday’s action at the Eifel Grand Prix was lost because the medical helicopter could not leave the track and land safely at the designated hospitals in the Koblenz area.
FP1 did not start on time, and bulletins were issued at 30-minute intervals until it was announced that the session would not start. The same pattern was repeated in FP2, and the day ended with no cars taking to the track.
At some venues cars can run without medical helicopter cover if what are known as “receiving” hospitals can be reached by road within a 20 minute window, but that is not the case at the Nurburgring, so today the FIA had no option but to cancel track running.
Better weather conditions are expected tomorrow, but the FIA is hoping to ensure that poor visibility won’t wipe out the day’s action.
“We’re hoping that the fog will lift,” said Masi. “We’ve seen it coming in and out all day, so we’ve been operating on the 30-minute interval with updates, working with local air traffic control, with the helicopter pilot, for the medical helicopter.
“The weather and dampness is fine. It’s just the medical helicopter is not able to fly to the receiving hospitals due to fog, so even though we have the broadcast helicopter that’s flying only around the circuit, to go from here to any of the hospitals, should something happen, it’s not possible.
“And therefore from a safety perspective, we would not start the session.”
Looking ahead to Saturday Masi said: “The forecast looks better, but we’re also working on some back-up plans should we have a similar situation, to be able to try and work around.
“We’re working on those as we speak. We’ll work on the back-up plans and then advise everyone accordingly at the same time.”
Masi would not be drawn on what the plans are, but in similar circumstances at the 2017 Chinese GP a hospital closer to the circuit – and within the 20 minute window of being reached by road – was upgraded by bringing in the neurological equipment that FIA protocols require.
The timing of medical evacuation is covered by Appendix H of the International Sporting Code, which states: “With the exception of a direct transfer to a severe burns treatment centre, the flight time necessary to reach each of the hospitals mentioned in the medical questionnaire for the competition and approved by the FIA medical delegate must not, in normal conditions, exceed approximately 20 minutes.”