Marcus Ericsson, Sauber, Circuit of the Americas, 2015

Worsening weather could delay qualifying

2015 United States Grand Prix Friday practice analysis

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“I can’t remember the last time I saw weather like that,” said Fernando Alonso after pounding rain forced second practice to be abandoned at the Circuit of the Americas.

He might not have to wait long to see it again, however. Hard though it may be to believe, the weather forecast for Saturday at the Circuit of the Americas is even worse.

An even larger band of rain is expected to follow the one which passed over Austin today. Saturday’s expected downpour will be driven by the remnants of Hurricane Patricia, a category five storm which is officially the strongest ever seen in the western hemisphere with wind speeds of 200mph recorded as it headed towards Mexico on Friday evening.

Carlos Sainz Jnr, Toro Rosso, Circuit of the Americas, 2015
COTA newcomer Sainz did just three laps
The consequences for the Austin area will be an extremely wet Saturday. As well as there being little let-up in the rain, the risk of thunderstorms may also jeopardise the possibility for any track running to be conducted at all.

This could lead to qualifying being postponed until Sunday morning when conditions are expected to improve. This happened most recently with the Australian Grand Prix in 2013.

However the risk of further rain on Sunday remains high. Note there is also a dispensation under the rules which allows drivers’ time from final practice to count towards their qualifying positions if needed, though that does not apply to first or second practice times.

The speed with which conditions took a turn for the worse surprised some teams. “This morning we only did three timed laps because we wanted to save intermediate tyres for the second session,” said Kimi Raikkonen. Under the rules teams are given an extra set of intermediate tyres if first practice is declared wet – without which it’s likely there would have been very little running at all in Friday’s first session.

The lack of running was a particular problem for the likes of Carlos Sainz Jnr and Will Stevens, who had not previously driven at the track. “We were only able to do three complete laps today because of the weather,” said Sainz, but ending up P4 in FP1 is a good achievement.”

As things stand, he and everyone else may be fortunate to do as much running as that tomorrow.

Complete practice times

Pos Driver Car FP1 FP2 Total laps
1 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’53.989 7
2 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull-Renault 1’55.224 6
3 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull-Renault 1’55.592 10
4 Carlos Sainz Jnr Toro Rosso-Renault 1’55.667 8
5 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1’55.693 4
6 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1’55.710 10
7 Max Verstappen Toro Rosso-Renault 1’55.969 7
8 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1’56.326 10
9 Fernando Alonso McLaren-Honda 1’56.839 18
10 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Mercedes 1’56.866 15
11 Felipe Massa Williams-Mercedes 1’57.081 13
12 Sergio Perez Force India-Mercedes 1’57.139 4
13 Jenson Button McLaren-Honda 1’57.495 20
14 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1’57.518 4
15 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Mercedes 1’58.319 10
16 Raffaele Marciello Sauber-Ferrari 1’59.431 19
17 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1’59.743 18
18 Alexander Rossi Manor-Ferrari 2’01.154 11
19 Will Stevens Manor-Ferrari 2’01.907 13

2015 United States Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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19 comments on “Worsening weather could delay qualifying”

  1. It was actually Lewis’ 1st year at Mercedes when qualifying in Melbourne was postponed, not last year.

  2. Track conditions before and during P2 time were horrible, it would’ve been downright dangerous to have anyone out in those conditions. Driving home the visibility was less than 50 feet at times and maybe only 200 at others.

  3. I am watching the live coverage of the hurricane. I am very concerned the race may not happen. I hope I am dead wrong, but it doesn’t look promising. A lot of rain yet to come.

  4. I’d like nothing better than a washout/cancellation if for no other reason than to keep Ecclestone away from the limelight he so craves. He has flat out ruined F1!!
    And although criticizing/insulting the US is his business, why not follow through by not attending the race you can’t get excited about.
    So please Ecclestone, do us a favor, get on your high horse and ride your sorry @$$ off of US soil.

    It shouldn’t bother him too much though, as he wasn’t too exited about coming to the US.
    Let him take his sorry @$$

  5. Yuriy Kvartsyanyy
    24th October 2015, 4:23

    Come on, first race I’m attending in 15 years and I already missed FP2.
    I’m surprised some teams saving tyres for fp2 when several local forecasts were saying 100% of rain during second practice. It was really heavy rain and wind, not a single chance to go on track. Will see tomorrow, but it doesn’t look promising for FP3 and qualifying.

    1. What was it like out there when the weather worsened? As for saving tyres, yeah, Ferrari. I think everyone else expected more rain for the FP2 session.

      1. @bascb Mercedes as well for Hamilton. I’m surprised they weren’t running all of FP1 as it was obvious a downpour was coming for FP2 and Saturday is a washout – so any track time is valuable.

        1. yes, you are right. The team already starting to make the same kind of mistakes we have seen from the likes of Ferrari, Williams, McLaren when they were slightly over their peak!

          1. The Brackley team has never been that hot on strategy, last two years and 2009 they just had such a car advantage it’s not so obvious. Red Bull are by far the best strategy wise.

  6. If qualifying gets postponed to Sunday then Ten’s RPM show will feature the practice in a highlights segment. Which is kinda pointless. Are there possibilities of moving the race like MotoGP have done in the past by airing it on a Monday.

  7. Hurricane Patricia, a category five storm which is officially the strongest ever seen in the western hemisphere with wind speeds of 200mph recorded as it headed towards Mexico on Friday evening.

    Even our beloved F1 is affected by climate change.

  8. The first wet weather race in Austin… hmm, I wouldn’t mind that at all.

  9. Here’s a local estimate for today:

  10. @keithcollantine how is the grid decided if there is no fp3 or qualy at all?

  11. I would love to have quail delayed, then I can watch it live and the race for just 6.99pounds on Now :) Lets get qual and the race inside a 24hour period, woohoo.

    1. Current forecasts point to FP3 also being washed out. It looks like you migth get your wish, though there will probably be some rain on Sunday morning as well.

      1. as it stands right now, there will be no qualifying today.

  12. I would say there will be little to no chance of running today in Texas with this announcement from the local NBC affiliate.

  13. Well the prospect of a race looks little grim. Weather forecast says rain all the way up to tomorrow afternoon. I was planning to attend the race this weekend but due to some conflicting schedule there was change of plans.

    As a F1 fan I feel bad that the race is a mess when the circus is in town !!!!! But as someone who was planning to attend the race, I am relieved that I did not make the plans. It is not just the race that I am concerned about but the cancelled flights, safety hazards and travel delays due to this weekend long thunderstorm . I can only hope the race next weekend in Mexico goes well.

    I am assuming that if the race is cancelled this weekend Lewis will wrap up the championship !!!!

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