F1 qualifying could move to Sunday amid Russian GP rain threat

Formula 1 qualifying for the Russian Grand Prix could be moved from Saturday to Sunday as the world championship looks to avoid disruption amid a bleak weather forecast.
F1 qualifying could move to Sunday amid Russian GP rain threat

With heavy rain expected to hit Sochi on Saturday, officials have already taken the decision to reschedule the opening Formula 3 race of the weekend, moving it forward from 8:35am local time on Saturday to 17:25 local time on Friday.

F3 confirmed the changes to the schedule had been made “due to an uncertain weather forecast”.

The Russian GP weekend schedule is busier than usual as a result of the F3 finale being moved from COTA due to logistical reasons, which has created an additional headache for the event organisers with Formula 2 also racing. 

F1 and the FIA will continue to monitor the situation and evaluate its options as it works on a contingency plan should Saturday proved to be a complete wash-out, like last month’s abandoned Belgian Grand Prix.

If final practice and qualifying were not able to go ahead at all, then one option available to F1 would be to set the grid based on the most recent practice session, which in this case would be FP2.

Another solution would be for qualifying to take place on Sunday morning ahead of the race.

The last time an F1 qualifying session was postponed until Sunday was at the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix when a typhoon caused major disruption.

Sunday’s weather forecast is looking much more stable, with largely dry conditions expected.

The current picture for Saturday shows there is a 99% chance of rain throughout the day. The rain threat eases from around 15:00pm local time - when Q1 is due to begin - and F1 officials are hopeful the session can go ahead as normal.

In an exchange broadcast by the F1 world feed at the start of Friday’s second practice session in Sochi, Red Bull sporting director Jonathan Wheatley was heard discussing the situation with FIA race director Michael Masi.

Wheatley asked Masi: "Our weather forecast is showing us that the chances are we probably will qualify but Sunday morning, is that what you’re thinking at the moment?”

In his response, Masi said that delaying qualifying until later on Saturday afternoon could be another one of the options open to F1 if the weather situation improved.

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