Styrian Grand Prix: F1 qualifying at risk of being cancelled as heavy rain hits Red Bull Ring

Jack de Menezes
·2-min read
Sporting Director of Formula One, Steve Nielsen walks in the pitlane during the delayed final practice: Getty
Sporting Director of Formula One, Steve Nielsen walks in the pitlane during the delayed final practice: Getty

Qualifying for the Styrian Grand Prix is at risk of being cancelled after heavy rain hit the Red Bull Ring on Saturday morning, forcing practice to be abandoned.

The third practice session of the weekend was “delayed indefinitely” after torrential rain arrived before the session was due to get underway at 11am BST (12pm local time), with the Formula Three race red flagged as conditions became undrivable. A decision was soon taken an hour after the session was due to start to cancel it completely without a lap being completed.

If the weather does not improve this afternoon – as the forecast suggests it won’t – officials will likely have to cancel the rest of Saturday’s running, with qualifying to be rescheduled for Sunday morning.

“The latest forecast is not looking great, there’s an 80 per cent chance of rain in FP3 at the moment and likelihood of very heavy showers throughout,” said FIA race director Michael Masi.

“There’s lots of options to put it simply. If a worst-case scenario was to come about, we’ve already had a look and qualifying could take place on Sunday morning.”

However, F1 has also put plans in place should qualifying be unable to take place on Sunday morning ahead of the Grand Prix. With free practice three looking unlikely to go ahead at all, times from Friday’s second free practice session would be used to form the grid, meaning Red Bull’s Max Verstappen would take pole position alongside last weekend’s race winner Valtteri Bottas, with the Racing Point’s of Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll on the second row of the grid.

“If we had a complete washout on Saturday, free practice three and qualifying didn’t take place and hypothetically qualifying couldn’t happen on Sunday morning because of weather, we would revert back to free practice two times,” Masi added.

It would mean that reigning world champion Lewis Hamilton would start down in sixth position, while Ferrari would have to make do with ninth place for Charles Leclerc and 16th for Sebastian Vettel following a disappointing day.

Saturday’s running is also due to include the Formula Two feature race, while both F2 and F3 sprint races are scheduled for Sunday morning along with the Porsche Supercup that would have to make way for F1 qualifying.