Sochi Autodrom, 2021

Saturday wash-out could delay F1 qualifying to Sunday

2021 Russian Grand Prix

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The threat of heavy rain throughout Saturday at Sochi Autodrom could lead Formula 1 to postpone its qualifying session to Sunday.

Practice began under blue skies at the circuit this morning but the weather is expected to take a turn for the worse on Saturday. The official FIA forecast indicates constant rain is expected from tomorrow morning. Conditions may improve late in the afternoon, but other forecasts indicate the rain will set in for the day.

That threatens to present a serious headache for the organisers, who have an unusually busy day of track activities on Saturday. The decision to reschedule Formula 3’s season finale to this weekend has increased the number of support races due to take place in Sochi.

In addition to F1’s final practice and qualifying sessions on Saturday, Formula 2 and Formula 3 are due to hold two races each. F2 and F3 also have a further race each on the morning of the grand prix, when conditions are expected to improve.

Formula 1 has already begun discussing the possibility of rescheduling sessions if Saturday’s running is disrupted. “Sunday doesn’t look too bad actually at the moment, with what I’ve seen,” said McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl. “So I think there’s actually a chance to have some dry running on Sunday.

“There was a good dialogue yesterday already just in order to be prepared for different scenarios for this weekend. So I think everyone is prepared to react depending on how the weather forecast keeps developing.”

If F1 is forced to postpone its qualifying session to Sunday, that could have a knock-on effect for F2 and F3’s races. Sunday’s Formula 3 race is its final event of the season and could decide the championship, which Dennis Hauger and Jack Doohan are in contention to win.

Last month Formula 1 was unable to hold a single racing lap at Spa-Francorchamps due to heavy rain on Sunday. The race was red-flagged after three laps behind the Safety Car and half points awarded based on the positions after a single lap of running.

Russian Grand Prix Saturday and Sunday track activity

Saturday
Formula 3Race one08:35
Formula 2Race one10:30
Formula 1Practice three12:00
Formula 3Race two13:40
Formula 1Qualifying15:00
Formula 2Race two16:45
Sunday
Formula 3Race three09:55
Formula 2Race three11:20
Formula 1Russian Grand Prix15:00

Sunset is expected at 18:13 on Saturday and 18:11 on Sunday.

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Author information

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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6 comments on “Saturday wash-out could delay F1 qualifying to Sunday”

  1. A decent move if the weather doesn’t improve.

  2. Maybe to ‘expereiment’ they could have a little short ‘pre-race’ race before the Grand Prix to determine the staring grid.

    Oh, wait, hang on …

  3. So that’s it then?

    We no longer race in the rain. Very sad and a massive shame for the sport.

    1. It’s a tricky one. I get where you’re coming from and I love a good wet race as there’s always some drama, but it’s not safe sometimes. Tracks should be designed so there’s no standing water even during torrential rain but then the spray these days makes it like driving through thick thick fog. Would you want to drive through thick fog at 200mph into the unknown?

      1. Where I live, people actually drive faster in the torrential rain, must be something about hurtling into the unknown.

        To quote the great Mazespin : “There’s no dishonor in losing the race. There’s only dishonor in not racing because you’re afraid to die.”

        Reply moderated
    2. someone or something
      24th September 2021, 16:06

      You do understand the meaning of the word could, right?
      All that’s being said is that the contingency plan in case the conditions are too bad might be a qualifying session on Sunday morning.
      Taking this to mean that “we no longer race in the rain” is about as logical as deducing anything about the literary preferences of the local frog population from it.

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