Explained: Trackside fire interrupts F1 Chinese Grand Prix practice

How did a fire break out during F1 Chinese Grand Prix practice?

Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) RB VCARB 01. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5, Chinese Grand Prix, Shanghai, China, Sprint
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) RB VCARB 01. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 5,…

Practice at the F1 Chinese Grand Prix was bizarrely halted by a fire on the grass next to the track.

A red flag interrupted the sole practice session on Friday, after only 15 minutes, when the fire at Turn 7 was reported.

Marshalls swiftly doused the flames leaving a dramatic patch of scorched, blackened grass.

Sky Sports’ Ted Kravitz reported from trackside: “On the apex of that corner, specifically, the cars bottom out. They are producing sparks.

“With the wind blowing downwind, I can absolutely imagine that the reason for the fire was a spark coming off the cars’ skid-blocks and then travelled downwind, and hit the patch of dry grass.

“It’s surprising because we’ve only had one day of dry weather.

“Wednesday was pouring with rain in Shanghai. So the grass has dried out successfully for that to catch fire.

“I’ve got no doubt that it wasn’t an errant cigarette causing that fire! I’ve got no doubt that it was a spark from a car.”

Damon Hill added: “Actually, the sparks are created by bits of metal. Not just flaming bits of nothing. They are actually material bits of metal.

“They obviously set fire to the grass!”

Lance Stroll eventually topped the timesheets of the interrupted session.

The fire was the second unusual moment for the Shanghai International Circuit this weekend.

F1 drivers initially suspected it had been painted when they notice darkened patched of the track.

But, bitumen had been used to treat the track in an attempt to prevent tyre degradation.

It is unconfirmed whether the bitumen may have caused the sparks which set fire to the grass.

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