Max Verstappen leads first Chinese Grand Prix practice session cut short by heavy rains
Red Bull's Max Verstappen had the fastest lap time of the morning practice session at 1 minute, 50.491 seconds before heavy rains cut the practice short. AP

SHANGHAI — The opening practice session at the Chinese Grand Prix was a near-washout on Friday as rain and fog prevented drivers from making it out of the garage for much of the session.

Red Bull's Max Verstappen had the fastest lap time of the morning at 1 minute, 50.491 seconds. Both Ferrari drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen, and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton failed to set a lap time in the abbreviated session.

Poor visibility grounded the circuit's medical helicopter Friday morning, causing a 40-minute delay at the start of the session due to safety concerns. The drivers were given the green light for less than 20 minutes before the rest of the session was suspended for good.

The slick conditions caused plenty of sliding for the brief time the drivers were on the track, with Haas racers Kevin Magnussen and Romain Grosjean spinning at Turn 9 and Renault's Niko Hulkenberg ending up in the gravel after spinning on Turn 3.

The rain was expected to let up by Friday afternoon, though foggy conditions could still hamper the second practice session. The forecast for Sunday's race also calls for rain.

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