F1 hopeful qualifying will go ahead as rain delays morning F2 race

2021 Russian Grand Prix

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Heavy rain at Sochi Autodrom has forced this morning’s Formula 2 race to be postponed.

The decision not to proceed with the race was taken swiftly as rain poured at the circuit. Race control decided against opening the pit lane for cars to join the track. The Safety Car was sent out to evaluate the conditions, following which proceedings were soon halted.

Despite the extremely wet conditions at the circuit, Formula 1 race director Michael Masi is hopeful the afternoon’s qualifying session for the Russian Grand Prix will be able to go ahead. It is due to start at 3pm local time.

“What we’ve seen from the forecast side is that we will have this level of rain until about 1:30-2pm local time and then decreasing in the afternoon,” said Masi. “The priority from today’s perspective is obviously Formula 1 qualifying this afternoon.”

However even if the rain eases in time, visibility at the circuit could become a problem, he admitted.

“The determining factor this afternoon will be the light,” he explained. “Sunset locally is about quarter past six in the evening. But with weather conditions like this, obviously light diminishes far earlier. So that will ultimately be our cut-off point.”

That could lead F1 to hold qualifying on Sunday morning, as last happened at the Japanese Grand Prix in 2019.

“If qualifying isn’t able to happen today, as we’ve seen a few times before in the past, then we’ll re-do our programme and hold qualifying on Sunday morning,” Masi confirmed.

The first change to the programme for this weekend’s race was made yesterday when the opening Formula 3 race was brought forward from Saturday morning to Friday afternoon. Masi said that decision was vindicated by the teeming conditions at the circuit today.

“We were fortunate enough in restructuring the programme to have the first Formula 3 race yesterday, pre-empting the weather that was going to happen this morning,” he said. “Which, based on what we saw when we came out to the circuit this morning, was absolutely the right decision. It was torrential at the time we would have been having the F3 race. So we did that and now we’ll just sort of look at the day ahead and take it step by step.”

In addition to F1 qualifying, final practice for the grand prix plus further F3 and F2 races were also scheduled to take place at the track today. All face the threat of disruption due to the conditions, and fan zone activities at the circuit have also been postponed due to rain.

“The procedure today will be that we will aim to start all sessions, get everything ready from an operational perspective, and then judge the conditions at the time,” said Masi.

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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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9 comments on “F1 hopeful qualifying will go ahead as rain delays morning F2 race”

  1. Sunset time today is 18:11, so not much flexibility for delaying. I reckon Sunday morning QLF.

    1. F2 race is also scheduled for later on in evening so not sure how they will not cause conflict with other series. Also saw reports of FP3 being cancelled.

      1. Jere not smart to aborting F2 sprint and FP3 because the track will be insanely green for F1 quali which would cause more carnage and benefit Max because he is already starting at the back of the grid so he does not need to push the car on a hazardous track.

  2. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    25th September 2021, 10:29

    Just a thought… assuming this intensity of rain carries on and they end up cancelling the race altogether, will it be deemed that Leclerc and Verstappen have served their respective penalties?

    1. I think so @asleepatthewheel… Bottas and Stroll were deemed to have served their penalties after Spa so I can’t see this being any different.

      1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
        25th September 2021, 10:38

        @red-andy Spa was considered to be a completed race. I am saying what if they cancel this race (what they should have done at Spa), then in that case will the penalties get carried over to the next event?

        1. In that case, they’d better drive 3 laps behind the safety car tomorrow… ;-)

    2. @asleepatthewheel No, they would not be deemed to have served their penalties unless 2 laps of race happens. Though given precedent, that will happen no matter how foolish the call.

  3. I thought the penalties were served at ‘events’ not races, thus the inability to serve the penalty wasn’t the fault of the driver.

    We’ve subbed drivers around this, have the rules been tidied since?

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