After the opening free practice session of the day was compromised heavily by two lengthy red flag periods, the same fate forced a delay to the start of the action for FP2 at Shanghai.
While the damp track conditions were fine for the cars, a lack of visibility meant it was not safe for the medical helicopter to operate if needed, forcing a halt to the proceedings.
F1 race director Charlie Whiting said: "The helicopter can't land at the hospital, which is about 38 kilometres away unfortunately.
"It looks reasonable here [at the circuit], I know, and there are helicopters flying here, but they can't actually land in downtown Shanghai."
The distance to the hospital meant the possibility of travelling by road was not feasible, as the journey time would be way over the FIA's maximum of 20 minutes.
With the session finishing as scheduled at 15:30 local time regardless of when it started, it became a race against time to hope conditions would improve enough to enable some meaningful running to take place.
F1 officials were receiving updates on the conditions from the local airport every 10 minutes while the 90-minute clock ticked down with no cars able to go out on track.
But the visibility failed to clear, meaning the limited running in FP1 represented the only mileage teams were able to complete on the first day of the weekend.
That session, which featured only 88 laps from all 20 cars combined in damp conditions, was topped by Max Verstappen, comfortably ahead of the Williams pairing of Felipe Massa and Lance Stroll.
The last time an entire session of a grand prix weekend was cancelled was in 2015, when stormy weather prevented FP2 taking place at Austin.
While teams and drivers tried to keep themselves busy during the lack of running, Lewis Hamilton ventured across the track to the main grandstand to interact with fans, signing caps and throwing them into the crowd.