F1 will hold Russian GP qualifying on Sunday if Sochi storms continue


Torrential rain in Sochi has already delayed this weekend's programme, and plans are in place to hold f1 qualifying on Sunday if the weather doesn't ease off

Sochi rain at 2021 Russian Grand Prix

Lars Baron/F1 via Getty Images

Thunderstorms over Sochi could delay Russian Grand Prix qualifying until Sunday, Formula 1’s race director has said.

This morning’s Formula 2 race was postponed as lightning struck around the Black Sea circuit, and officials are preparing for more disruption.

Race director Michael Masi said that the “torrential” conditions were set to continue into the afternoon, meaning that the third practice session, scheduled for midday (10am BST) could be cancelled.

Although the forecast is for the weather to ease this afternoon, fading light could force F1 qualifying, currently planned for 3pm (1pm BST) to be held on Sunday.

The busy support race schedule faces even greater disruption, with F1 taking priority on track. The Formula 3 title was decided yesterday after the first race was brought forward as a result of the forecast, but there are two further F3 races scheduled this weekend, while there is also a full F2 programme.

“The weather’s gone up and down like a yo yo and the intensity of the rains started increasing with some thunder already joining us,” said Masi. “What we’re seeing from a forecast side is that we will have sort of this level of rain until about 1:32pm local time, and then decreasing in the afternoon.

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“With FP3, we could start the session and then red flag it immediately — let the clock run down and let’s judge what the weather is like at that point in time. Alternatively, if we can see that it’s just going to be torrential for the entire session, we will just abandon FP3 and aim for qualifying.

“The determining factor this afternoon will be the light. Sunset locally is about 6.15pm but with weather conditions like this obviously light diminishes far earlier. So that will ultimately be our cutoff point.

“If qualifying isn’t able to happen today, as we’ve seen a few times before in the past, we will hold qualifying on Sunday morning.”

The F2 and F3 programme is set to fit in around the grand prix sessions, with the potential for a busy Sunday schedule if rain effectivewly closes the track for most of the day.

“Formula 1 will take priority,” said Masi. “We will aim to start all sessions [and] get everything ready from an operational perspective then judge the conditions at the time.

“We’ll just sort of look at the day ahead and just take it step by step.”