Formula 1 race director Michael Masi has explained what the day at the as-yet-soaked Sochi Autodrom could look like, and what the leeway is to hold the third practice and qualifying.
It has been raining in Sochi since Saturday morning. The intensity of this varies, but around half past nine Dutch time it started to rain a lot harder and some thunderstorms presented themselves. A glance at the weather forecast shows, however, that the rain should decrease later in the afternoon (from half past one Dutch time, when it is half past two in Sochi).
“The priority is Saturday afternoon’s Formula 1 qualifying,” Masi emphasizes. “It is at the top of the list. Fortunately, we have created some leeway in the schedule by already having the first Formula 3 race on Friday, instead of Saturday morning. Given how much rain fell at the time, it was absolutely the right decision.”
Around the start of qualifying, at 2:00 PM Dutch time, the weather should be better. But still: if necessary, the start can be postponed. There is also scope for that. Until when Formula 1 can postpone the qualifying start, however, depends on the daylight and visibility, says Masi.
The sun sets in Sochi at 6:15 PM local time (5:15 PM in the Netherlands), but: “If the weather on Saturday afternoon is just as bad as Saturday morning, it will get dark much earlier. If we can’t qualify on Saturday afternoon, we’ll do it Sunday morning.”
Flexible with free practice 3
As far as the third free practice is concerned, Masi says about the session scheduled for 11 a.m. Dutch time before qualifying, there are several options. “We can just start it and if the weather is too bad put out the red flag. Then the clock continues. If we see in advance that it will not work, we can also delete FP3.”
The condition for FP3 is that it must be completed at least two hours before the start of qualifying. In order to keep to the starting time of 14:00 hours for the qualification, FP3 must therefore be ready at 12:00 hours Dutch time. The aim is also to start each session on time. “And then we assess the situation further at the moment.”