Why FP3 and qualifying at F1 Las Vegas Grand Prix may be delayed

The first day of track action at Formula 1’s inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix got off to a very rocky start.

As a result, the second day of track action — including qualifying — may be delayed.

Mere minutes into FP1 Carlos Sainz Jr. struck a loose manhole cover, which caused substantial damage to his SF-23. As a result of that impact, and as a safety precaution, the session was red flagged as security workers repaired the loose cover, and checked the rest of the track.

FP1 was ultimately cancelled, and with the work on the track taking over two-and-a-half hours, FP2 was delayed as well. It did not begin until 2:30 a.m. local time, and was extended by 30 minutes to make up for the time lost during FP1.

Ultimately, FP2 ended at 4:00 a.m. local time.

Here is where things get tricky.

Under F1’s Sporting Regulations, specifically Article 38.2.b, FP3 can start no sooner than 18 hours following the conclusion of FP2:

Screenshot 2023 11 17 at 8.35.16 PM

With FP2 coming to an end at 4:00 a.m. local time, that means that under this section of the current Sporting Regulations, the soonest FP3 can begin is at 10:00 p.m. local time.

It is currently schedule to begin at 8:30 p.m. local time.

Now let’s assume that the guidelines are followed, and FP3 is pushed back to 10:00 p.m. local time. What might that mean for qualifying, which is set to begin at midnight local time?

Another delay.

Under Article 39.1.b of the Sporting regulations, qualifying cannot start any earlier than two hours after the conclusion of FP3:

Screenshot 2023 11 17 at 8.39.05 PM

So, if the Sporting Regulations are followed and FP3 is pushed back to 10:00 p.m. local time, and runs for an hour, it would end at 11:00 p.m. local time. Meaning that under this section, the soonest qualifying could begin would be 1:00 a.m. local time.

That’s 4:00 a.m. for those of you reading this on the East Coast.

Again, this is what the Sporting Regulations say. I’m just a former lawyer-turned sportswriter, who spent time reading rules and such in a prior life.

We’ll now wait and see if FP3 and qualifying go off as scheduled, or if the rules force another adjustment to the schedule.

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