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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The Chinese Formula One Grand Prix will go ahead as planned on Sunday with an upgraded medical facility near the Shanghai circuit in case the medical helicopter cannot operate, the sport's governing body said.
The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has designated two hospitals to provide medical care for Sunday's race, the Huashan Hospital, 38 kilometres from the track, and the Ruijin Hospital, five kilometres away.
Both are required to be no more than about 20 minutes away by either air or ambulance and capable of treating a wide range of injuries, according to the FIA's international sporting code.
"For us, safety is paramount," said an FIA spokesman. "We need to have a macro hospital, where we can take care of everything."
The Shanghai weather all but wiped out the first two practice sessions for the Chinese Formula One Grand Prix on Friday, with poor visibility in the city forcing the grounding of the medical support helicopter.
The chopper could not land at the Huashan Hospital, which cannot be reached by road in 20 minutes, due to the foggy conditions, while Ruijin, though nearby, lacked neurosurgery facilities.
That raised questions about whether the race could go ahead if the helicopter could not fly, with the weather predicted to be similarly damp and misty.
"...special arrangements have now been made for a complete neurosurgery team from Huashan Hospital to be present at Ruijin Hospital on Sunday," the FIA said in a statement.
"Following an inspection by the FIA medical team yesterday afternoon, the FIA is satisfied that the Ruijin Hospital will not only be easily accessible in all weather conditions, but will also be able to provide the required care," it added.
The weather at the Shanghai circuit was damp and overcast on Sunday morning. The track is predicted to dry up rapidly in the early afternoon with visibility staying stable.
The race is scheduled to get underway at 1400 local time. Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton will start from pole ahead of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel.
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty