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United States Grand Prix: Not the first time qualifying was on race day!


With the race due to start soon, here are three other times the race was held only a few hours after qualifying.

Rain has pummelled the track incessantly and led to qualifying being restricted to two sessions instead of 3

F1 usually sees an elaborate weekend setup, with one day devoted entirely to practice sessions, another to qualifying and a third to the actual race. Weather did not permit that to happen at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas this weekend, however. After several postponements, the qualifier was only held on the morning of the 25th of October, with the race scheduled for a few hours later as a result of Hurricane Patricia.

The Sunday qualifier during the United States Grand Prix isn’t the first time qualifying has taken on the same day as the race.

There were also just two rounds of qualifying due to the continuous downpour all day, with the third session called off due to safety concerns. Nico Rosberg of Mercedes will start in pole position after he outpaced teammate Lewis Hamilton in the session.

Nico Rosberg who has to beat Lewis Hamilton today to stay in title contention put himself in the perfect position, clinching pole on a soggy Austin track ahead of the British driver.  

Here’s a look at the previous occasions the qualifiers have taken place on the same day as the race day:

Japanese Grand Prix, 2004  

Schumacher won the 2004 Japanese Grand Prix

Hurricane Patricia brought torrential weather conditions to Austin this weekend, but in 2004 it was another weather system – Typhoon Ma-on – that forced the FIA to postpone qualifying in Japan until the morning of the race.

Unraceable conditions contributed to several off-track moments during the Friday practice. With the 160km/h super storm moving closer rapidly, the decision was made to close Suzuka on Saturday.

After the storm passed without creating any problems, the legendary Michael Schumacher, driving then for Ferrari, clinched his 13th victory of the season from pole position.

Japanese Grand Prix, 2010

Vettel and Webber finished first and second respectively

Japan and weather  storm brought in an enormous amount of rainfall which lead to the postponement of qualifying. Race control waited for the weather to get before eventually cancelling the session, leaving the teams to race makeshift miniature rafts down the flooded pit lane for entertainment.

“I know it is not an easy decision to take, but in those conditions we have no control of our cars,” said Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel. 

"For the majority of people it's difficult to understand - you just think, 'Okay, put the rain tyres on and you'll be fine'. But it's not as easy as that. We would just be passengers…” The next day, under bright sunny skies, Vettel raced to the pole position before finishing ahead of Mark Webber across the finish line in a Red Bull one-two at the end of the race. 

Australian Grand Prix, 2013

Kimi Raikkonen took his 20th career win during 2013 Australian Grand Prix

The weather in Melbourne in 2013 was abysmal, and it resulted in qualifying to be postponed mid-session. Q1 took place after a delayed start, with drivers having off-track incidents due to the rain. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa spun on the wet surface and hit a wall, while notorious crasher Pastor Maldonado, who was then driving for Williams, went off track early in the race, nearly killing a seagull in the process.

With the rain worsening and daylight fading, Q2 and Q3 were rescheduled for the morning of the race. Sebastian Vettel took pole position for Red Bull. However, the now four-time World Champion didn’t have it easy in the race, as Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen picked up his 20th career win ahead of Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and Vettel.

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