Organisers have confirmed that the first GP3 race of the weekend at Sochi Autodrom has been cancelled following a big accident for Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz in F1 Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning.

Sainz was extricated from his car and taken to the medical centre, and then airlifted to a local hospital for further checks. He was reported as awake and alert and talking with the doctors, and even at one point attempted to remove his helmet before the medical workers discouraged him.

Sainz' car snapped to the left coming through turn 12 and impacted with the barrier, but the more significant damage was done when the car carried on into the barriers in turn 13. As well as delaying the extraction of Sainz from the car, the damage to the barriers has necessitated the undertaking of extensive repairs.

The 40-minute GP3 race was due to start half an hour after the scheduled end of FP3 at 1.30pm local time but with track workers still removing the Toro Rosso and getting started on the barrier repairs it was clear that there would now be a long delay.

Unfortunately there was no spare room in the schedule, as F1 qualifying was set to start at 3pm and organisers are understandably unwilling to disrupt the worldwide TV schedule for the event in favour of a support race.

The official announcement was that race 1 has been cancelled, although it's not clear whether it might still be rescheduled at some other point of the weekend.

At other rounds of the championship, the race would normally take place after the GP2 feature race as the last track activity on Saturday afternoon. However as Friday practice vividly proved, the light at this time of the year fades too quickly to make that a safe option at Sochi.

Yesterday's GP3 practice concluded in almost night time conditions after running to within minutes of the official time for sunset, emphasising how packed the schedule is this weekend and how little flexibility there is to get all the events in.

Provisionally it seems that GP3 will now just run a single race this weekend on Sunday morning at at 10am local time (8am BST) with the grid set as per qualifying. It's not clear whether the race will be 20 laps (as today's race was planned for) or 15 as the Sunday race 2 would normally have.

One change in the starting grid line-up has been announced for the race whenever it happens, with Koiranen GP's Matt Parry handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Campos Racing's Konstantin Tereshchenko during qualifying. Parry will now start from ninth place.

UPDATE: A further announcement from race organisers has clarified that today's race has in effect been postponed until Sunday morning, and that there will therefore now be two GP3 races on Sunday before the F1 Russian Grand Prix. See separate story for details of new timings.

See full Saturday morning GP3 qualifying times from Sochi Autodrom.



Loading Comments...