F1 managing director of motorsport Ross Brawn has outlined how this weekend will proceed if qualifying for Sunday’s Styrian Grand Prix is postponed. Thunderstorms have threatened to wreak havoc on Saturday’s schedule and Free Practice 3 has already been cancelled.
There’s a possibility qualifying won’t take place at all on Saturday, which might see it pushed back to Sunday morning.
Brawn is remaining optimistic, however, and is hopeful of Lewis Hamilton and co. being able to get back on track once the torrential rain subsides.
“There’s a chance we could get some running at the end of the day, but tomorrow should be fine,” Brawn told Sky Sports F1 on Saturday morning.
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“We’d have qualifying tomorrow. We have a schedule that means we only lose the F2 sprint race and one of the Porsche races. We think we can fit everything in.
“If we can’t do that the FP2 times become relevant, but I hope we don’t need to do that and we can have qualifying in the morning.”
READ MORE: FIA race director gives Styrian Grand Prix update
Speaking ahead of qualifying’s scheduled 2pm (BST) start on Saturday, FIA race director Michael Masi explained how the afternoon might proceed and discussed the issues the weather presented.
“We’ll wait and see when qualifying comes about and evaluate the weather conditions at that point,” Masi told Sky Sports F1. “If the weather conditions are similar to now, we’ll delay the start of qualifying and continue to evaluate as time goes on.
“The likelihood is from what we’re seeing forecast wise that [the rain] will continue but we just need to make judgement as the day progresses. The medical helicopter being unable to fly in these conditions is another factor.
“At the moment our primary receiving hospital is an hour, an hour and a half away, by road in Graz. The medical helicopter, because of the cloud coming in, it can’t fly at the moment.
“With the medical helicopter being unable to take off, that’s another factor in the equation and we wouldn’t start any session without that possibility at this venue.”
If it’s decided qualifying must be axed on Saturday and it cannot take place on Sunday morning, the lap times recorded in Friday’s Free Practice 2 session will decide the starting grid for the Styrian Grand Prix.
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Reigning F1 champion Hamilton finished only sixth fastest in FP2 on Friday after being 0.688 seconds down on pace-setter Max Verstappen, with Valtteri Bottas second quickest.
While Bottas finished just 0.043 sec behind Verstappen, Hamilton struggled with the handling of his Mercedes W11 in the soaring temperatures.
After topping the charts in Free Practice 1, Sergio Perez finished FP2 in third, with his team-mate Lance Stroll coming home in fourth to emphasise Racing Point’s strong pace.
Verstappen’s Red Bull team-mate Alexander Albon took a trip across the gravel as he finished seventh, 0.777 sec off the pace, while Lando Norris, who last week became the youngest British driver to finish on an F1 podium, was eighth for McLaren.
Ferrari have brought a series of upgrades to this week’s race, but the struggling Italians continued to be slow on Friday.
Charles Leclerc was only ninth, one second adrift of Verstappen, with Sebastian Vettel a miserable 16th, almost two seconds back.