No one likes a canceled Formula 1 session and like the USGP in 2015, the Chinese Grand Prix had to cancel its second Free Practice session due to inclement weather preventing the medical helicopter from flying.
This issue is one of the three trump cards F1 applies to its series—Safety, cost, sustainability. Nothing outrages F1 fans quite like a careless dismissal of safety and whenever something bad happens, the fan outrage and armchair race directors take the mobocracy’s megaphone, that is social media, to slate all involved.
On one hand, fans are perplexed and upset that the FIA canceled the second session while the Porsche Cup cars took to the track. The helicopter rule is a critical one that F1 is unyielding on. On the other hand, are they upset enough to demand safety comes second or third to fan entertainment? Or is there another solution? McLaren’s Zak Brown would like to think there is:
“We need a plan of when this happens – a contingency.
“Should we be opening up the paddock and letting the fans in?
“At the end of the day, everyone is expecting a show. At the same time, is there a different way to get the rescue situation sorted?
“It’s our collective responsibility to take care of the fans. If this happens again – because it will – what can we do to entertain the fans more?
“That’s the best we can do. We can’t change the weather.”
While some berated Lewis Hamilton from hamming it up during the canceled session by engaging the crowd, I have to applaud him for trying to entertain the fans in attendance and at least he was trying to provide some fun and fan engagement. The other drivers could have joined him.
Like Zak, Lewis knows the importance of engaging fans and seeking their emotional capital. Zak would like an alternative solution to the helicopter rule and perhaps there are ways to find a compromise but all it takes is a serious accident on track and the inability to get immediate medical care at a local hospital to outrage the fans worldwide about the lack of safety.
It’s the rule and if Austin 2015 is any measure, it could actually produce a great race…just like the USGP in 2015.