With heavy rain falling overnight and continuing to batter the Sochi Autodrom throughout Saturday morning, the FIA has taken the decision to abandon any attempt to stage the final 60-minute F1 practice session.

A bulletin issued by the FIA shortly before FP3 was planned to start confirmed that a request had been received from the stewards to call off the session amid the poor weather conditions.

“Having received a request from the race director and the clerk of the course, in accordance with Article 15.3 a) of the Formula 1 Sporting Regulations, and Articles 11.9.3.m and 11.9.3.o of the FIA International Sporting Code, decide, in the interest of safety, to modify the official programme by cancelling free practice session three due to force majeure,” it read.

“For the purposes of the regulations and associated time limits, free practice session three will be considered as having taken place, except where otherwise advised by the race director.”

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F1’s priority is to stage qualifying at some point on Saturday afternoon. Qualifying is due to begin at 3pm local time (1pm BST) and the current weather forecast suggests the rain should ease before then.

Speaking on Saturday morning, FIA race director Michael Masi said that fading light will ultimately be the deciding factor in whether qualifying can go ahead as planned.

The session could be delayed in the hope of finding a potential break in the weather later on Saturday, but with sunset at 6.13pm local time, there is a narrow window to fit qualifying in.

If qualifying can not be held on Saturday, F1 has the option to move the session to Sunday morning and reschedule its programme.

This last happened at the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix when advanced warning of a typhoon threat enabled F1 to switch qualifying to Sunday morning ahead of the race.

Last month, F1 was forced to abandon the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps due to persistent heavy rain.