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Can F1 Races Be Postponed?

Formula 1 races can take up to two hours to finish sometimes. However, under some extraordinary circumstances, it may prove impossible for a race to be safely completed. This may leave fans wondering if F1 races can be postponed.

F1 races can be postponed if they cannot be completed safely. There are a few options in this case. Sometimes the race will be cancelled entirely, and in other cases the race could be postponed to a later date or to a different day. However, this is very unlikely to happen in most cases.

It’s not a simple case when it comes to postponing a Grand Prix, and there are a lot of factors that the race director needs to keep in mind when deciding to postpone or cancel a race. Below, we discuss the prospect of F1 races being postponed in more detail.

Can F1 Races Be Suspended?

Formula 1 races can be suspended on the day, but there is a time limit as to how long the race can be suspended for. This is done mainly for safety reasons, as the race will eventually need to be cancelled due to poor lighting and visibility around the circuit.

The general rule is that the race cannot be more than two hours long under driving conditions. If the race is red flagged and stopped, then it usually needs to be completed within three hours. This can be a real challenge when everyone wants the racing to get going, but conditions don’t allow for it.

We have seen some situations in the past where races have lasted an incredibly long time due to several stoppages. The longest race in the history of Formula 1 was the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, which lasted a total of four hours, four minutes and 39 seconds with a two hour suspension due to torrential rain.

How Long Can An F1 Race Be Postponed For?

In the majority of cases a decision needs to be made for when the race will be stopped. This decision needs to be made with fair warning so that all teams, drivers, and spectators know when the race will end.

In the majority of cases, the time limit for delays in a Formula 1 race is two hours. However, there are a lot of considerations to keep in mind here. The main challenge is the light level, as drivers need to have good visibility in order to race safely.

For example, if the race is stopped during the later stages due to heavy rain, it can’t be delayed for too long as the visibility will only get worse as the time of day progresses and the weather persists. This is why a decision must be made quickly by the race director.

Can F1 Race On Monday?

F1 can race on a Monday if it is deemed the only suitable option. It has never happened in the history of the sport as there have only been six cases where a race has been stopped half way through. However, if a race has to happen, it could take place on a Monday, even though it is not ideal.

It’s difficult to race on a Monday as it would mess up the entire schedule for Formula 1. The first factor to consider is the fans who attend the race at the track as well as the TV audience. Formula 1 would lose a significant chunk of the audience if they were to host the race on a Monday. Most fans would simply not be able to attend the race the next day.

The other factor to consider is that by Monday a lot of Formula 1 teams and staff are packed up and on the flight to their next destination. However, this would only be the case if there are back to back races rather than the one week gap, but it would still be a logistical nightmare.

When Was The Last Time F1 Didn’t Race On A Sunday?

There have been occasions when Formula 1 has not raced on the traditional Sunday afternoon. The last time this happened was at the 1985 South African Grand Prix, which was held on a Saturday. This was due to the political climate within the country at the time as a state of emergency was declared due to civil unrest under Apartheid.

Previously, some Formula 1 races, such as the British Grand Prix, were traditionally held on a Saturday afternoon rather than on a Sunday. This was done up until 1976 when every race weekend was given a standardized format.

This standardized format of having practice on a Friday, qualifying on a Saturday, and the main race on a Sunday became much more structured. As the TV broadcasting era came around, it was important to have a more structured format as it allowed more viewers to tune in at the right time rather than having to figure out if the race was on a Saturday or on a Sunday.

What Happens If An F1 Race Is Suspended?

When an F1 race suspended or temporarily red flagged, all the cars will need to return to the pit lane as soon as the red flag comes out. They will remain in their positions, and the drivers can get out of their cars if the race will be stopped for an extended period of time.

Mechanics are allowed to work on the cars during this suspension, which means that damage on the cars can be repaired and tires can be changed (as long as parts swapped in are of the exact same spec as those already on the car). However, it will be a race against time to get their work done, as race control won’t wait for them to finish before the race resumes.

After the suspension, the cars will drive out of the pit lane and park in their grid slots based on their positions (lapped cars need to overtake and move to the back of the grid). The race will then usually restart from a standing start rather than a rolling start that you would see under a safety car restart.

What Happens If F1 Qualifying Is Rained Out Or Canceled?

If F1 qualifying is rained out before it begins, it will usually be postponed until later that day if possible, or until the Sunday morning before the race if need be. If it still can’t go ahead, the grid may be set using times from the latest free practice session.

Torrential rain doesn’t just land on a Sunday in Formula 1. We have seen some heavy rain on Saturdays as well. While Free Practice 3 on Saturday morning can be cancelled due to heavy rain, it’s a bit trickier for qualifying, as the grid needs to be set for Sunday’s race.

If qualifying can’t be run on the Saturday afternoon due to heavy rain then it will usually be moved to the following Sunday morning. Having qualifying on a Sunday morning poses its own set of challenges for teams and drivers.

There is a lot more work to do on the Sunday, especially when you consider the risk there is of a driver crashing their car, or a car breaking down. There is a huge amount of pressure on the team to get their car prepared for the race, which would just be hours away.

What Happens If F1 Rained Off?

If a Formula 1 race is cancelled due to heavy rain the positions from the final lap will be counted as the results for the race. If more than 75% of the Grand Prix has been completed the drivers will be awarded full points for their positions.

However, if less than 75% of the Grand Prix has been completed, then the drivers would normally all receive half points for their positions. In other words, instead of receiving 25 points for finishing in first place, the driver will receive 12.5 points. This changed in 2022, which we’ll take a closer look at below.

The result is still treated as normal, and the top three drivers will go onto the podium for the winners celebration. The podium celebration will continue as normal with trophies and champagne being given to the top three drivers.

Why Can’t F1 Race In Torrential Rain?

Formula 1 cars can drive in the rain. Even though they kick up a lot of spray which makes for poor visibility, the race normally continues when the rain starts to fall. The cars are much more difficult to drive, but in the majority of cases they will keep going.

However, there comes a point where the cars become undrivable in torrential rain. The issue is that many cars will experience something known as aquaplaning, which is when there is a layer of water between the tires and the tarmac.

The layer of water separates the contact patch of the tires from the tarmac, causing the car to instantly lose all grip, sending the car effectively sailing off the track. In this scenario, it’s more based on luck than skill as to whether or not the driver can stay on the track, and it’s not worth continuing the race. It also becomes too dangerous for drivers who could end up in a huge accident.

Why Was Spa 2021 Not Rescheduled?

The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix at Spa is a recent example of a race that got cancelled due to torrential rain. The only driving that did happen during this Grand Prix was two laps behind the safety car.

After that, the race never got going again, and race control called the event off and awarded half points to all drivers. The majority of fans and drivers would not call one lap under the safety car a race, and to many it seems unfair that any points were awarded at all.

There were considerations for the race to be held on the following Monday, however that never materialized. This was due to several reasons, mainly based on logistics as the teams had to pack up and head over to the next event in the triple header, at Zandvoort in the Netherlands.

There were even more issues with volunteer marshals not being available for a race on Monday as well as camera crews not being available to broadcast the event. There was also no possibility of rescheduling the event for another weekend due to various other logistical challenges in F1’s longest season (at the time).

Unhappy Fans

Naturally, the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix left many fans unhappy as they paid for expensive tickets and were left to sit in the rain for an entire Sunday afternoon waiting to watch a Formula 1 race that never happened. Most fans saw the cars for a couple of laps at half speed as they drove behind the safety car.

Formula 1 also announced that they would not refund the tickets for fans who attended the race. They would instead receive an F1 TV pass, and be entered into a raffle, giving them the chance to win tickets to a Grand Prix in 2022.

This led to outrage, but Formula 1 and the Spa circuit organizers were put in a tough spot. Technically the event happened, and a lot of money was spent in order to transport all the equipment to Belgium for the weekend. The ticket sales paid for much of the events that took place on the Friday and the Saturday,even though the race never happened.

What Was The Solution To The Spa 2021 Situation?

In early 2022 it was announced that new rules were introduced as a result of the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix. From 2022 onwards, no points would be awarded unless the race leader completed six or more laps without the safety car or virtual safety car in use.

Between six laps and 25% of the race distance, only the top five finishers receive points, with the winner receiving only six points. Between one quarter and half race distance, approximately half points will be awarded only up until ninth place, with the winner receiving 13 points (to avoid the need for half points).

Between 50% and 75% of the race distance, the top ten finishers will all receive points, with the winner receiving 19 points. If more than 75% of the Grand Prix has been completed, full points will be awarded as normal. You can see the full table of points scorers below.

F1 Points System For Shortened Races

PositionTwo laps or fewerUp to 25% distance25-50% distance50-75% distance75-100% distance
106131925
204101418
30381215
4026912
5015810
600468
700356
800234
900122
1000011

Final Thoughts

Formula 1 races can be suspended under some circumstances. It’s not uncommon for a race to be stopped (red flagged) in torrential rain or if there has been a heavy crash. Formula 1 races can also be postponed and cancelled, although canceling a race is usually preferred over postponing it.