Formula 1 has announced that third practice for the Russian Grand Prix will not go ahead due to heavy rain and lightening.
Not for the first time this season, Mother Nature has had her say with a thunderstorm hitting the Sochi circuit on Saturday morning.
That saw Formula 2’s first race postponed and, shortly after, the announcement that Formula 1’s final practice had been cancelled.
Rather than have the teams and drivers, and the soaking wet marshals, counting the clock for an hour, FIA race director Michael Masi made the call to cancel FP3 15 minutes prior to the start.
“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,” read the FIA statement.
“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.”
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Earlier in the day Masi had confirmed that holding qualifying for Formula 1 was his “priority”, everything else could be moved or even cancelled.
“As we can see already the weather has gone up and down like a yo-yo,” he told the official F1 website. “The rain has started increasing with some thunder already joining us.
“The effectively procedure for today will be that we will aim to start all sessions, get everything ready from an operational perspective, then judge the conditions at the time.
“What we have seen from the forecast is we will have sort of this level of rain until about 13:30/14:00 local time, then it will be decreasing in the afternoon.
“The priority is Formula 1 qualifying this afternoon, that will take priority.”
Masi is hoping for a break in the weather mid-afternoon but concedes that fading light could then play a role.
“The determining factor this afternoon will be the light,” he said, “sunset is about 18:15, but with weather conditions like this light diminishes far earlier, that will be our cut-off point.
“If we can’t run qualifying today we will re-do a programme and hold qualifying on Sunday morning.”