What Happens If Qualifying is Washed Out or Cancelled on Saturday at Russian GP?

Published 09/24/2021, 7:15 AM EDT
Motor racing – Formula One – Russian Grand Prix – Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia – September 24, 2021 Red Bull’s Max Verstappen in action during practice REUTERS/Anton Vaganov


The teams have their wet and intermediate tires ready as the Russian GP promises a rainy weekend. As Saturday sees the highest chance of rain over the Autodrom, will the qualifying session bring Spa flashbacks?

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Before the grid’s arrival on the track, Sochi was flooded on Wednesday. As the three days of driving forecast rain as well, Saturday is the main talking point. Forecasts read more than 20mm of rainfall from dawn till mid-afternoon. Windy and wet, the slicks will have to be rolled out for the session.

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However, what happens if the rainfall gets too heavy? F1 faced a similar situation in Austria last season, where multiple alternatives were put into place. As the heavy rains threaten another washout, what can we expect during the qualifying session?

Qualifying on Sunday instead of Saturday at the Russian GP

After the Belgian GP, the FIA has learned from the experience; one can expect a better outcome at Sochi. The FIA has made no fresh announcements as to what their plans are for Sochi; it is safe to assume that the 2020 Styrian GP approach is a safe plan of attack.

The chances of rain on Saturday are 80%, similar to the estimate in Austria. Michael Masi had explained, “If a worst-case scenario was to come about, we’ve already had a look and qualifying could take place on Sunday morning.”

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The plan seems pretty solid; a washout on Saturday would mean canceling FP3 and the qualifying session. However, if the Sunday morning scenario doesn’t pan out, the race director has an alternative. “[If] hypothetically qualifying couldn’t happen on Sunday morning because of weather, we would revert back to free practice two times.”

Prepared for any situation, Masi has an alternative to Plans A and B. ” there’s the third iteration, which is free practice three can happen but we can’t have qualifying in the afternoon or qualifying Sunday morning and the grid would highly likely be set on the free practice three times.”

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With Saturday under threat, drivers will have to give it their all during the practice sessions as well. If the grid were to be determined by the practice sessions, teams would have to be ready for any situation. With the rain molding yet another race this season, will there be problems on Saturday?

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Shreya Sanjeev

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Shreya Sanjeev is an F1 author at EssentiallySports. Having attained a journalism degree from St Xavier's College, she finds comfort in the sound of her keyboard while typing and excitement in the sound of F1 cars speeding on a track. A street circuit and Daniel Ricciardo fan through and through, Shreya claims the 2018 Monaco GP to be one of her favorite races of all time.

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