Formula 1 has outlined its plan to ensure Styrian Grand Prix qualifying can go ahead, though it will be moved to Sunday morning if it cannot be staged as scheduled on Saturday.

Torrential rain and thunderstorms hit the Red Bull Ring in Austria on Saturday morning, forcing the opening Formula 3 race of the weekend to be cancelled, while F1 also abandoned plans to run final practice after it was initially delayed indefinitely.

F1 managing director Ross Brawn said there remains a “chance” that qualifying could take place on Saturday, but he is expecting it to be rescheduled to a Sunday morning slot.

However, with rain forecast throughout the rest of Saturday, conditions are unlikely to improve enough for track running to occur.

“If the weather conditions are similar to now we will delay the start of qualifying and just continue to evaluate as time goes on,” F1 race director Michael Masi told Sky Sports.

“The likelihood is, from what we are seeing forecast wise, it will continue but we just need to make a judgement as the day progresses.”

If qualifying cannot take place on Saturday as expected, then a 10am local time slot is being considered for Sunday morning.

A similar situation happened at last year’s Japanese Grand Prix when qualifying was moved to Sunday due to the effects of Typhoon Hagibis.

“It will be an earlier start for all of us and a busy day,” Masi explained. “If we can’t run at all [today], and we’ve got a draft timetable already for tomorrow that we’re working on, but we will qualifying tomorrow morning.

“So not a dissimilar situation to Japan last year. We’ll just issues a revised set of procedures of what the teams can and can’t do tonight and start all again tomorrow morning and go into qualifying and a much shorter period between then and the race.

“Hypothetically as we’re looking at the moment we would probably aim for a 10am local time qualifying tomorrow, and then the race would commence as scheduled.”

The deteriorating weather adds a further complication because the on-site medical helicopter cannot be used in the current circumstances.

“At the moment our primary receiving hospital is an hour away, or an hour and a half away in Graz,” Masi added.

“And the medical helicopter because of the cloud that’s coming in can’t fly at the moment.

“With the medical helicopter unable to take off, that’s another factor into the equation and we wouldn’t start any session without that possibility at this venue.”

Mercedes F1 team boss Toto Wolff believes Saturday qualifying is unlikely to go ahead.

“What we hear is that it should get a little bit better for qualifying but looking at that torrential rain I don’t think it’s realistic that we are going to run today,” he said.

“We need to hope that it can go ahead at three o’clock. And if not I guess we are going to have a session tomorrow morning.”

 

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