SOCHI from Russia
Heavy rains prompted the cancellation of the third practice session of the Russian Grand Prix on Saturday and raised doubts about the possibility of holding qualifying as planned.
It rained all night in Sochi and Saturday morning, with some lightning. The track is laid out on a flat part of the Black Sea coast, which makes it more difficult to evacuate the water. This causes areas of standing water on the track and poor grip. Visibility must have been poor due to the dark sky and the spray from the cars.
The stewards have accepted a request from race director Michael Masi to cancel the practice session for safety reasons.
Masi said light levels will be crucial in deciding whether or not to hold qualifying on Saturday afternoon.
“With weather conditions like this, it’s obvious that the light is fading much earlier (than sunset), so this will ultimately be our cutoff point,” Masi said. “If qualifying cannot take place today, as we have seen several times in the past, then we will re-schedule and hold qualifying on Sunday morning.”
Sunday is also likely to have rain. The last race to qualify on a Sunday was the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix after a typhoon caused all of Saturday’s events to be canceled.
Valtteri Bottas was the fastest and Lewis Hamilton second in both practice sessions on Friday. These were dry. Max Verstappen is at the top of the championship standings but will start from the back of the grid in the race on Sunday because he changed his engine.