Soaking Sochi! Final Russian Grand Prix practice session is cancelled and qualifying could even be pushed back to Sunday as heavy rain, lightning and thunder hit the track
- Torrential rain, thunder and lightning have hit Sochi overnight and on Saturday
- Race officials say third free practice session cancelled ‘in the interest of safety’
- Qualifying expected to start at 3pm local time (1pm BST) on Saturday
- Heavy rain is forecast to fall onto the circuit until at least 2pm local time
- FIA race director Michael Masi suggested qualifying could be pushed to Sunday
The final practice session ahead of the Russian Grand Prix in Sochi has been cancelled because of inclement weather, which could also affect qualifying.
Heavy rain has fallen on the Black Sea resort overnight and continued in the morning, with Sochi also hit by thunder and lightning.
The weather conditions prompted FIA officials to call off the third and final practice session scheduled for Saturday morning.
FP3 of the Russian GP has been cancelled after torrential rain hit the Sochi track overnight
‘In the interest of safety [the decision has been taken] to modify the Official Programme by cancelling Free Practice Session 3 due to Force Majeure,’ a statement from race officials read.
‘For the purposes of the regulations and associated time limits, Free Practice Session 3 will be considered as having taken place, except where otherwise advised by the Race Director.’
Torrential rain is expected to continue until approximately 2pm local time (12pm BST) and FIA race director Michael Masi said he would ‘judge conditions at the time’ to determine whether qualifying can get underway as scheduled at 3pm local time (1 pm BST).
Qualifying is scheduled to start at 1pm BST on Saturday but is now in doubt due to the weather
FIA race director Michael Masi touted the possibility of pushing qualifying to Sunday
Heavy rain is forecast to fall onto the circuit until at least 2pm local time on Saturday
Masi also suggested the qualifying session could be pushed back to Sunday if the weather didn’t improve sufficiently on Saturday.
‘If qualifying isn’t able to happen today, as we’ve seen a few times before in the past, then we will re-do a programme and hold qualifying on Sunday morning,’ he said.
Light could also become a factor as sunset in Sochi falls at 6.15pm local time (4.15pm BST) on Saturday.
It is not the first time adverse weather has wreaked havoc on the current F1 season.
In August, the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps was delayed by three hours and 17 minutes after the start was formally suspended after two exploratory formation laps due to heavy rain falling on the circuit from early morning.
When the race eventually got underway it lasted just three laps, all of which behind the safety car, and will go down as the shortest race in the sport’s history.
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