Verstappen passes 9 cars in one lap in masterful China race

Bottas: 0.001s gap to Vettel 'a real shame'

Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, has taken steps to ensure that Sunday's Chinese Grand Prix will go ahead as planned no matter the weather.

The safety regulations now require the medical helicopter to be able to transport a stricken driver from the circuit to the nearest hospital in under 20 minutes.

Low cloud, rain and smog at the Shanghai International Circuit caused yesterday's second practice to be abandoned as poor visibility prevented the medical helicopter from operating.

But with similar conditions forecast for Saturday, the fear is that those sessions may similarly be afflicted.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen had topped the leaderboard, followed by the Williams duo of Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll, respectively.

"It looks reasonable here [at the circuit], I know, and there are helicopters flying here, but they can't actually land at the airport in downtown Shanghai".

"It's not good for the fans watching on TV and even worse for all those people in the stands, who have paid money to come out here from the city or even from other countries".

The Dutchman's lap was more than 15 seconds slower than retired world champion Nico Rosberg's pole position effort a year ago, an indication of the limited benefit of the curtailed session.

But after his second pit-stop on lap 33 of 56, Ricciardo reeled in Verstappen and was able to challenge for third place late on before settling for fourth.

Only 14 drivers completed timed laps, with neither championship favourite Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes nor Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel, victor of last month's season-opening race in Australia, setting times.

"There was something misfiring in the engine which meant we were down on power, I tried to do a lap that could at least get me through to Q2 but the issue just wouldn't let me", Verstappen said.

"Starting from 19th on the grid is going to be tough, but I think there is rain on the way", said Verstappen.

"Pretty comfortable for this grand prix, I hope still, despite the weather", the German said. Hamilton did, however, go across to the main grandstand near the end of P2 to sign some caps and throw them to the fans.