SEPTEMBER 25, 2021
Putin absent as Sochi braces for qualifying washout
Russian president Vladimir Putin will not attend Sunday's Formula 1 race at Sochi.
"No," a spokesman for the Kremlin told Russian news agency Tass.
Part of the reason for that could be the controversial president's period of self-isolation, commenced last Tuesday, after members of his entourage tested positive for covid.
Putin will therefore miss what is expected to be a wash-out on Saturday, with F1 officials reportedly discussing moving qualifying to Sunday morning.
"The main thing we have done is prepare all of the drainage systems," said Alexey Titov, boss of the race promoter Rosgonki.
Already this week, heavy rain flooded the support-race paddocks at Sochi.
"The rain on Tuesday showed us the weak points and we strengthened them," Titov added.
"But in general, any decisions (about scheduling) depend on the circumstances and will be taken by the FIA."
Haas boss Gunther Steiner says fellow team principals are expecting heavy rain and even thunder throughout Saturday's practice and scheduled qualifying proceedings.
"It will rain - 100 percent," he told Sky Deutschland.
"We'll have to see whether the drainage from the track is sufficient for running."
The good news is that, if postponed, it looks likely that qualifying will be able to take place on Sunday morning, ahead of a dry Russian GP.
"As far as I can tell, the forecast for Sunday is not so bad," confirmed McLaren chief Andreas Seidl.
"We have already had a good discussion on this topic to prepare for various possible scenarios this weekend. So I think everyone is ready to respond appropriately depending on what happens."