Qualifying for the Formula 1 Styrian Grand Prix is in jeopardy after Saturday morning practice was called off due to persistent rain.
Race control had originally delayed indefinitely the final free practice session, but it was finally cancelled 40 minutes into its allocated time without a suitable break in the weather materializing.
The weekend’s first Formula 3 race, which had begun 95 minutes before F1 practice was scheduled to start, had also called off after 12 laps due to the worsening conditions.
Forecasts suggest the bad weather will hang over the Red Bull Ring until around 10pm local time. Qualifying is scheduled to begin at 3pm, with sunset at around 8:50pm.
In the event qualifying is unable to take place on Saturday, Formula 1 will reschedule the grid-setting session to Sunday morning, when forecasts suggest the rain will have largely subsided. The temperature will likely be around mid-50 degrees F, substantially cooler than Friday conditions.
The sport’s managing director, Ross Brawn, told the F1 broadcast during the delay that the sport was hopeful the rain might ease enough later in the afternoon to allow qualifying to take place but that it was prepared for all eventualities.
“This is a big front coming through moving slowly but predictably,” Brawn said on the F1 television feed. “There’s a chance maybe at the end of the day we’ll get some running, but certainly tomorrow looks fine.
“We’ve got a schedule tomorrow which means we only lose the Formula 2 sprint race and one of the Porsche races. We think tomorrow we can fit everything in so there’ll be qualifying in the morning.”
If the weather were to persist through to Sunday morning and prevent qualifying from being held, the results of FP2 on Friday afternoon will be used to set the grid. In that event, Max Verstappen would start on pole position alongside winner of last weekend’s Austrian Grand Prix, Valtteri Bottas. Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll would line up on the second row of the grid.
Lewis Hamilton would start sixth, with Charles Leclerc and Sebastian Vettel ninth and 16th respectively.