A1 Grand Prix Chairman David Clare insists the third round of the series in Beijing will go ahead as planned, despite a catalogue of problems that have contributed to just 25-minutes of running being conducted thus far and qualifying to be cancelled.

Having only confirmed a venue a handful of weeks before the race was due to take place, a problem with the layout of the circuit, in particular the exceptionally tight turn eight hairpin, had already forced practice sessions to be postponed while a revision was sought.

Such a change was found overnight, with drivers given a 90-minute practice session ahead of qualifying to get used to the circuit. However, after just 25-minutes it was discovered that a manhole cover on a racing line was coming loose under the pressure of the cars travelling over it at high speed.

The session was halted immediately and then stopped altogether in the interests of safety, with inspections to other manholes around the circuit forcing officials to extend that cancellation to qualifying, with the grid instead made up of practice times up to that point.

Despite the problems though, Clare is confident the race will continue as planned, if slightly delayed, insisting the issues surrounding such a unique circuit are not uncommon, pointing out the tight time constraints from converting a busy road into a race circuit.

"Every temporary street circuit has its own issues and it is something that only comes together on a Thursday afternoon or evening at the best and we understand that is the issue and so that is why we only scheduled two support races for this weekend because we have to swap things around.

"I think the most important thing is the races will go ahead tomorrow. We have had some issues with the lay-out of the track which we resolved over night and people were working all through the night to do that., and I think that has produced a better track."

Officials are now looking at a method of securing the manhole covers that worked well in Durban last season, with bolts drilled into the manhole lid and rim, with a silicon seal then injected around the bolt to ensure it is positioned. This work will be carried out well ahead of the race.

"The manhole cover that was the issue was actually on the racing line and was slightly raised up and took a lot of impact from cars. Obviously what happened there was the welds that held it down didn't secure the manhole cover.

"Luckily our Race Director spotted them immediately and his quick response saved anybody from getting injured. As a result of that, what we are doing is going round every manhole cover on the track, re-securing with a different method with bolts and we are making sure there is absolutely not chance of them moving.

It is not the first time a Chinese street circuit has been plagued by manhole problems, after Bernd Maylander struck the loose obstacle and destroyed his Mercedes during a DTM invitational race around the streets of Shanghai in 2004.

 

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