Torrential conditions left the FIA with no choice but to abandon Saturday’s planned qualifying session for the United States Grand Prix and postpone it to Sunday morning.
Officials were able to run Saturday’s preceding practice session – where Lewis Hamilton went fastest on a sodden track – but the weather had significantly turned for the worse by the time qualifying rolled around at 1:00pm local time.
The start of the session was initially delayed by 30 minutes, with further segments added as the conditions refused to ease. It made for an extremely frustrating day for the teams and the thousands of fans who had bought tickets to ultimately watch very little on-track action.
A number of teams tried to amuse themselves and the fans during the lengthened ‘non session’. Williams, Force India and Sauber all created pretend canoes which they raced up the pit lane, while the Toro Rosso driver amused themselves playing ten-pin bowling with Red Bull cans.
By 4:00pm, all hope was abandoned along with the fading light, and the decision made to move it to 9:00am local time on Sunday.
As a gesture to the fans, Bernie Ecclestone authorised for the pit lane to be opened for an impromptu invasion by the fans, who were rewarded by the entire grid of drivers taking part in a lengthy autograph and photo session.
The Circuit of the Americas also announced that Saturday racegoers would be able to redeem their tickets for use on Sunday at no charge.
It is the fourth time ever that a Formula 1 qualifying session has been moved to a Sunday due to inclement weather, with the 2004 and 2010 Japanese Grands Prix and the 2013 Australian Grand Prix being the earlier instances.
Image via XPB Images