On-track action during FP1 only lasted three minutes after a stoppage by Alpine’s Pierre Gasly caused an early red flag.
Even after the Frenchman’s stricken car was removed from the racetrack, the session remained on halt because of a synchronisation issue with the local CCTV camera circuit, which for safety reasons is required to be working properly so all on-track action can be monitored accurately.
Despite the local organisers’ best efforts, the synchronisation problem did not get resolved until well after the session, when a backup solution was found to enable the rest of the running to go ahead.
Aston Martin driver Alonso felt the issue was embarrassing for the series as spectators only caught three minutes of action in FP1.
“The fans came very early to the circuit, and we were not able to run in FP1,” Alonso said. “From time to time we are shooting in our feet as a sport, these things are a little bit embarrassing.
“We didn’t have time because in FP1 the cameras of the circuit didn’t work, and we didn’t have a Plan B in this sport.”
Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes F1 W14
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
In order to compensate the teams and fans for the lack of practice time, the start of FP2 was brought forward by 30 minutes and the session was extended from 60 to 90 minutes.
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton said it was good move by F1 to extend FP2, but felt it was tricky for the team to use the extra time well as it had to change its run plans with little notice.
“A bit of a strange day because obviously we got to miss the first session,” Hamilton commented after setting the fastest time in FP2. “I felt really bad for all the fans that are out there and we had a great crowd already from yesterday, the city is pumping so I don’t know what happened with the CCTV cameras.
“I’m glad that we got to go out and it was nice to have an hour and a half session, but we haven’t had an hour and a half for a long time so then I felt like the time was not used optimally.”