FIA tries to solve strange grass fires at the Chinese Grand Prix

FIA tries to solve strange grass fires at the Chinese Grand Prix

The strange grass fires that plagued the first day of the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix remain unsolved, as the FIA tries to address the situation.

The Formula 1 community has been puzzled by the strange grass fires that broke out at the Shanghai International Circuit, which the FIA has not been able to adequately address the unanswered questions regarding the events of the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, despite initial investigations.

Two separate fire incidents caused an unexpected and alarming interruption of Formula 1 sessions over the Chinese Grand Prix weekend, raising concerns about safety.

The first practice session on Friday morning saw a red flag situation when a sudden fire broke out on the grass at Turn 7 while the second sprint qualifying round started later than expected after the previous qualifying session was marred by another fire outbreak.

The FIA promptly launched an investigation to determine the reasons behind the grass igniting so randomly, according to a report from Autosport.

After reviewing video footage, race officials determined that the grass might have caught fire due to sparks from the extremely aerodynamic ground-effect cars, which currently run closer to the ground, upping the rate at which sparks are produced.

“After a first review of the video footage, it seems like it is sparks coming from cars igniting the fire in the grass run-off area,” stated the FIA.

That, however, has only provided a partial explanation for the incidents, as the extent of the fires being started is significantly larger than one would typically expect from grass particularly given that the ground had been soaked by a significant downpour on Wednesday.

A number of theories have been suggested regarding the additional catalyst that is enabling the sparks to set off the larger fires. The Shanghai track is situated on a wetland, therefore one idea suggests that methane gas may be seeping through the earth, sparking the fires.

Another theory is that the problem stems from the chemical treatment the grass underwent to improve its appearance. However, it has been reported that there were no strange odors or signs of anything unexpected in the area; therefore the FIA’s initial physical inspections on Friday did not throw much light on the matter.

Given that the fire returned in qualifying, the FIA intends to carry out a more thorough investigation in the evening in an attempt of getting a better understanding of the situation and identify the actual cause.

The FIA will certainly be keen to prevent any fires from prompting a session interruption on Saturday, or even requiring the deployment of a safety car or any other intervention during the race.

Although this is the first year that the new generation of ground-effect cars—which shoot more sparks when they run near to the ground—have driven here, the fire problem is something that has never been experienced in Shanghai before.

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