Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2020

F1 has three ways to decide grid if heavy rain disrupts Saturday – Masi

2020 Styrian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 has prepared three contingency plans to cope with the very heavy rain which is forecast on Saturday at the Red Bull Ring.

FIA race director Michael Masi said the championship could consider postponing Saturday’s qualifying session to Sunday morning. Alternatively, the grid could be formed using lap times set in tomorrow’s final practice session or even today’s second practice session.

The FIA’s official weather service, Meteo France, indicates there is a strong chance tomorrow’s rain will be heavy enough to affect running at the track, but it should clear up by Sunday.

“Earlier in the day it looked like Sunday morning was not going to be great either,” said Masi. “That looks to have cleared up. But tomorrow is not looking great at all.”

Masi indicated the preferred option is to hold qualifying on Sunday morning, if possible.

“If a worst case scenario was to come about, we’ve already had a look, and qualifying could take place on Sunday morning,” he said. “So that’s a great option there.”

If postponing the qualifying session to Sunday isn’t an option, lap times from one of two different practice sessions could be used to decide the grid.

“If we had a complete wash-out on Saturday, so free practice three didn’t take place and qualifying, didn’t take place, and hypothetically qualifying couldn’t happen on Sunday morning because of weather, we would revert back to the free practice two times from today,” said Masi.

“Or there’s the third iteration, which is that free practice three can happen tomorrow morning, but we can’t have qualifying in the afternoon or qualifying Sunday morning, and the grid would be highly likely to be set on the free practice three times.”

Qualifying has been postponed to Sunday on several occasions in the past, most recently at last year’s Japanese Grand Prix due to Super Typhoon Hagibis. Sunday qualifying sessions were also held at Suzuka in 2010 and 2004, as well as at the Circuit of the Americas in 2015 and Albert Park in 2013.

Postponing the qualifying session this weekend would cause disruption to Formula 1’s official support series Formula 2 and Formula 3, which both have races scheduled on Sunday morning.

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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21 comments on “F1 has three ways to decide grid if heavy rain disrupts Saturday – Masi”

  1. There’s this mythical thing called “Letting them qualify in the rain”. Maybe we should give that a try? F1’s aversion to heavy rain is highly displeasing to say the very least.

    1. They’ll only postpone the session if the storm would prevent the medical helicopter from taking off. Otherwise, we’ll get a wet quali.

    2. @klon the Austrian government appears to be putting out weather warnings to its citizens about the risk of potential torrential rain and flash flooding in that particular region, so potentially this could be quite a bit more severe than you seem to think it is.

    3. It isnt that. If the medical helicopter cant fly then they cant qualify as the hospital isnt close enough

  2. If they are able to run P3 tomorrow, but it looks like the afternoon is going to be a washout, why not running qualifying during the P3 time slot? Surely it’s better to miss a practice session than qualifying. There might be commercial reasons regarding TV schedules etc, but I would’ve thought that running qualifying on Sunday morning or skipping it entirely would bring up the same issues.

    Maybe there is something in the rule book that also prevents it, which would mean the teams that stand to benefit from the current situation would block it, but otherwise this would seem like the sensible solution to me.

    1. @keithedin
      If scheduling for an early qualifying is an issue, then those broadcasters can just show qualifying delayed back into its original time slot…

      Or, at least, that would be the logical thing to do :/

  3. If you’re afraid of the cost of a few broken cars, then just close the shop. I’m tired of watching drivers being treated like children. Same conditions for everyone…

    1. Then watch the last half hour of Rush…which just happened to be on.

    2. We don’t want drivers losing their life because there’s no way to get them to a hospital quickly, thanks.

    3. As mentioned above, there are people and systems – such as helicopters – which wouldn’t be able to do their job in heavy rain.

      Pretty sure most of the drivers would race in snow if they had the chance.

      The children, in this situation, seem to be the fanatics who can’t tolerate change.

  4. Was Suzuka ’04 the one when paper boats were floating on the pitlane? That one was hilarious.

      1. @jerejj Thank god, I thought I was getting old faster than I actually am. 2010 seems another life time, though, after all we’ve been through, specially since ’16.

  5. The only way qualifying could happen on Sunday would be for it to take place relatively early in the morning before both support category-races. F2 and F3 not having any races would make their presence at Red Bull Ring pointless.

    1. Support races could be held after the F1 race.

      There is enough time on Sunday before 15:00 for all support races + F1 quali from 9:00.

  6. Jeanmark A'Kessler
    10th July 2020, 20:46

    The broadcasters (during P2) cited a safety rule stipulating that the helicopter must be able to fly during the driving/race session. So if the rain is too heavy for the evac heli, then that’s why they wouldn’t do quali at the normal time

  7. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    10th July 2020, 20:55

    Is qualifying not happening a realistic thing then? Nice for the contingency plans but how likely is it we’re going to need them?

  8. Qualy under light rain would be awesome. Wet track is such a leveler for the machinery. And such a good boost for the talented ones.

  9. There is another way to determine the start grid, which is to use the order they finished the Austrian GP. I know that’s not particularly fair, but everyone is using the same car on the same track, so why do you need to do Qualifying again?

  10. Why not just a reverse grid?

  11. The uncertainty is interesting. Makes the teams push in P2, P3 as they may count as quali, not knowing what is going to happen. Rather than trot around learning about tyres. Will probably make the race more interesting as the cars will be less honed.

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