The car of Haas F1's French driver Romain Grosjean is lifted off the circuit following a crash during rain in the qualifying session at the Autodromo Nazionale circuit in Monza on September 2, 2017 ahead of the Italian Formula One Grand Prix.The qualifying session in Monza has been delayed because of bad weather conditions. AFP PHOTO

MONZA: Romain Grosjean crashed after aquaplaning into the barriers only five minutes into Saturday’s rain-hit qualifying for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix.

The Frenchman lost control of his Haas car on the main start-finish straight, only seconds after complaining that he could not see and claiming it was too dangerous to continue.

“I can’t see where I’m going - it’s too dangerous,” he told his team by radio after four minutes.

Within seconds, his car had slammed into the barriers at high speed and slid to a halt at the inside of the first chicane.

Cars can reach a top speed of up to 320 kph on the straight.

“F*** me - I told you it was too dangerous,” he said, adding that it was ‘stupid’ to be running in such treacherous conditions after the morning’s third and final free practice had been reduced to a near-farcical 16-minute cameo due to the incessant rainfall.

Grosjean was unhurt and climbed from his car.

The Race Control announced that the session would remain under red flag conditions until it was safe to continue. A further information bulletin will be issued at 1330 (local), they said.

Briton Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes was fastest ahead of championship leader German Sebastian Vettel of Ferrari when the session was stopped.

Torrential rain had earlier reduced final free practice to a near-farcical washout, Felipe Massa topping the times for Williams in the 16 minutes of running permitted at the end of the session.

The Brazilian was one of only seven drivers to venture out and clock a lap time once race director Charlie Whiting, who had delayed the proceedings indefinitely, finally – like the rain – relented.

In four laps of the high-speed Autodromo Nazionale, which sweeps through a heavily wooded former royal park, Massa managed a best lap in one minute and 40.660 seconds, topping the times ahead of his Williams team-mate, Canadian rookie Lance Stroll.

The others to clock times were the two Renault men, both Toro Rossos and Sauber’s Swede Marcus Ericsson, hardly a meaningful pointer to the outcome of qualifying later Saturday or to Sunday’s race. --AFP

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