The third and final practice session for the Russian Grand Prix has been cancelled due to wet weather at Sochi. Formula One still intends to stage qualifying at some point on Saturday afternoon.
Rain has been forcasted over the days leading to the race weekend at Sochi with heavy showers predicted for the entire event. However, drivers could enjoy some track action yesterday in the two practice sessions when sunny conditions welcomed the field. The heavy rain has arrived today though which meant that the first Formula 2 race could not take place.
The final practice session had been due to start at 1200 local time, but the conditions were so bad that the Race Director Michael Masi sent a request to the race stewards, asking for the cancellation of the FP3 session.
“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,” the race stewards' statement 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.”
The plan is still that the qualifying session takes place later on Saturday, although that will be constantly re-evaluated based on the intensity of rain, thunders and light conditions.
“What we’re seeing from the forecast side is that we will have… rain until about 13.30-14.30 local time, and then it decreasing in the afternoon," started Masi.
“The determining factor this afternoon [for qualifying] will be the light. Sunset locally is about 18.15, but with weather conditions like this, obviously light diminishes far earlier, so that will ultimately be our cut-off point. 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 concluded.
The 2019 Japanese Grand Prix was the last occasion when qualifying was postponed to Sunday morning. Back then, a typhoon threat was the reason why the sport needed to switch qualifying to Sunday morning ahead of the race.