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Washout sees qualifying postponed until Sunday

NEWS STORY
24/10/2015

On a weekend where we are taking it one step at a time, it's reassuring to see organisers tweet the following just under an hour before the session is due to begin.

"Gates are open and qualifying is scheduled to hit the track at 1PM."

Quite how fans will react remains to be seen, and whilst the weather is beyond the control of even Bernie Ecclestone, one cannot help but feel that the powers-that-be could have been a little more proactive.

Despite the conditions FP3 went ahead on time, and though there were slides and offs aplenty only one driver sustained damage to his car, and that was Nico Rosberg who damaged his front wing when he went off into the gravel on his first run.

Teammate Lewis Hamilton posted the fastest time, a sublime lap, given the conditions, that saw him post the only sub-two minute lap. Sebastian Vettel was second quickest, but not despite a number of offs.

Half-an-hour before the session is due to start, Race Control announces that the start is delayed by 15 minutes. Subsequently, as rain and high winds continue to pound the circuit this is changed to a thirty minute delay.

"You can literally see waves on track," tweets Ferrari.

The cameras pan across to the massive queue of cars as fans still try to gain access to the circuit, the pathetic scenes reminiscent of Silverstone in 2000. Meanwhile, kudos to those fans who have made it in and are braving the conditions.

"So, about that quali session," tweets Mercedes, "yes, that's not happening yet. Settle in for the long haul folks - it's a deluge out here!"

Meanwhile, FIA media boss Matteo Bonciani has confirmed to NBCSN that qualifying will run tomorrow morning if cancelled today.

Talking to Sky Sports, Christian Horner admits that this would be the best option as conditions do not appear to be improving.

At 13:20 (local time), Race Control announces a further 30 minute delay.

One person who is delighted by the delay, sort of, is Carlos Sainz whose car developed an ERS issued during FP3. The long delay has allowed his crew to rectify the problem.

Shades of Silverstone a few years back as drivers and team bosses comes out and wave to the fans. The force India crew perform a rather pathetic Mexican wave. Then we get a bit of break dancing, whilst the Williams crew do a sort of rowing mime.

No surprises, merely frustration, as a further 30 minute delay is announced at 13:50.

At which point Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat walk into the pitlane and entertain the crowds with a bit of dancing.

Race Control sends out a couple of vehicles on a fact finding mission, Charlie Whiting in the first of them. Never mind rivers across the track, a couple of corners appear to have lakes.

In the Toro Rosso garage, Carlos Sainz and Jos Verstappen, fully kitted out in team overalls, climb into their sons cars. Elsewhere, a couple of Sauber mechanics pull a 'boat' containing a couple of crew members down the pitlane.

Back on track, the marshals appear to be leaving their posts and climbing in to a school bus.

And another 30 minute delay, which means the earliest possible start time is 15:00. We understand Charlie Whiting can delay the session until 16:00 at the latest.

At 14:55 a further 30 minute delay is announced. On and on and on it goes.

At which point the engine in the back of one of the Toro Rossos is fired up.

"FOM has again elected to delay qualifying by half an hour," tweets COTA, with more than a hint of frustration. "Now pegged for 3:30PM."

At 15:15, Race Control announces: "If there is no clear sign of a break in the weather conditions at 16:00, qualifying will be postponed until 9:00 on Sunday morning."

"There goes our lie-in then.." responds Mercedes.

Fact is, conditions show absolutely no sign of improving.

Interestingly, it is anticipated that tomorrow morning will be wet (again) ahead of a dry afternoon, thereby creating major problems in terms of set-up.

At 15:53 the Safety Car heads out for what should be a final decision. Conditions remain atrocious.

Needless to say up pops the message from Race control... "Qualifying postponed until 09:00 on Sunday morning"

We could have told them that a couple of hours ago.

We'll see you then.

As a thank you to those poor souls in the grandstands and on the spectator slopes, the invite goes out for fans to head to the pitlane courtesy of Bernie and the circuit management.

Check out our Saturday gallery, here.

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1. Posted by TokyoAussie, 25/10/2015 14:59

"After the Indy debacle of a few years ago, I hope the FIA does NOT start this race under a safety car. Given the type of rain that is falling, if they start the race under a SC, it might go full distance under the SC. F1 could never recover from that embarrassment. If it is too wet to race, postpone the race."

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