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F1 Saturday qualifying in severe doubt as heavy rain halts F3 race

F1 Saturday qualifying in severe doubt as heavy rain halts F3 race

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F1 Saturday qualifying in severe doubt as heavy rain halts F3 race

F1 Saturday qualifying in severe doubt as heavy rain halts F3 race

Formula 1's Saturday programme appears to be in serious doubt after the F3 race was red-flagged due to the extreme weather conditions at the Red Bull Ring.

The first of the two F3 races this weekend had to be halted on lap 15 as heavy rain lashed the circuit, resulting in a number of incidents.

The weather radar originally predicted it would be a brief 'shower', but, as cars waited in the pitlane for official confirmation as to whether the race would restart or not, radio messages confirmed the bleak picture.

In preparation for such an eventuality, F1 officials informed teams that practice two from Friday could potentially decide the grid for Sunday's race if it was not possible to reschedule qualifying for Sunday morning.

Explaining the options available to the FIA, race director Michael Masi, speaking on Friday, said: “If a worst-case scenario was to come about, we’ve already had a look, and qualifying could take place on Sunday morning. So that’s a great option there.

“If we had a complete wash-out on Saturday, so free practice three didn’t take place and qualifying didn’t take place, and hypothetically qualifying couldn’t happen on Sunday morning because of weather, we would revert back to the free practice two times from today.

“Or there’s the third iteration, which is that free practice three can happen, but we can’t have qualifying in the afternoon or qualifying Sunday morning, and the grid would be highly likely to be set on the free practice three times.”

To underline how seriously the teams viewed the forecast, the soft compound tyre was used more extensively in FP2 that is ordinarily the case.

Max Verstappen topped the session with Lewis Hamilton in sixth, and Sebastian Vettel P16 after running on the medium tyre in order to further evaluate upgrades on Ferrari's SF1000.

There is currently no word on whether practice three, originally scheduled to take place at 11:00 BST (12:00 local time), will run or not.

The weather forecast is far brighter for Sunday morning, and at this early stage it appears the best option for the qualifying session.

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