Russian Grand Prix FP3 abandoned as rain wreaks havoc with fears qualifying could follow

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FIA Race Director Michael Masi has warned that Formula One qualifying could be delayed to Sunday morning, if the weather does not improve for the Russian Grand Prix after free practice three was cancelled on Saturday morning.

After coming into some criticism after the washed-out Belgium Grand Prix, Masi has outlined a plan of attack if the weather continues to cause problems in Sochi, with the morning’s Formula 2 support race already postponed due to the bad weather locally.

“As we can see already this morning the weather has gone up and down like a yo-yo, and the intensity of the rains been increasing, with some thunder already joining us,” explained Masi.

“But effectively the procedure for today will be that we will aim to start all sessions, get everything ready from an operational perspective, and then judge the conditions at the time.

“We have what we’ve seen from a forecast side, that we will have this sort of level of rain until around 1.30 to 2.00 pm local time, then it’ll decrease in the afternoon.

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“Priority from today’s perspective is obviously Formula One qualifying this afternoon, so Formula One will take priority, then followed we were fortunate enough by restructuring the programme to have the first Formula 3 race yesterday that was going to happen this morning, which based on what we saw when we came out to the circuit this morning, was absolutely the right decision, it was torrential when we should’ve been having the race.

“Now we will look at the day ahead and take it step by step.”

With weather due to improve in the afternoon, Masi added that light will also be a huge factor in if the session will go ahead.

“The determining factor this afternoon will be the light, sunset locally is about 6.15 pm but with the weather conditions like this obviously light diminishes far earlier, so that will ultimately be our cut-off point,” Masi added.

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

With the forecast remaining unchanged since Friday morning, teams were aware schedules may be disrupted on Saturday, with Lewis Hamilton adamant Mercedes had done all their checks to preempt such a scenario.

“Yes, I think we definitely ticked off as much as we could through the sessions, very clean sessions, no issues,” said Hamilton.

“We made the changes we wanted, the car’s probably not perfect but we’ll work on it tonight.

“Set-up, me and Valtteri are quite different on set-up deliberately – we’ve gone in different ways to try and see which is best, so tonight we’ll probably try and understand, study those and figure out how to come back to the right path.” 

He added: “Seems like we started off on the right foot, I think as we’re always trying to progress, the first run in the first session, and we’ve been migrating and adjusting since, and it’s not been as good as that one – I just started to push more and more.

“Generally a good session pace-wise, we’ve got some work to do probably on our long run.

“And then tomorrow is probably going to be raining a lot, so it’s going to be a wet day tomorrow – it’ll be interesting to see what we do in terms of set-up for that, knowing that potentially Sunday is dry.”

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