U.S. qualifying postponed until race day

Sat Oct 24, 2015 6:04pm EDT
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By Alan Baldwin

AUSTIN, Texas (Reuters) - Heavy rain washed out qualifying for the U.S. Formula One Grand Prix on Saturday with the session rescheduled for Sunday morning, weather permitting.

With hardy fans huddling in the grandstands, teams and drivers did their best to keep spirits up with a range of pitlane antics relayed on the television screens.

But after five half-hour delays at the Circuit of the Americas, and the rain and wind only intensifying, organizers gave up the struggle and set a new time of 0900 local (1400 GMT) on race day.

If qualifying cannot be held then, the times from final practice will set the starting grid, another boost for world champion Lewis Hamilton who was fastest in that session for Mercedes.

Hamilton will take his third world championship after Sunday's race, with three rounds remaining, if he scores nine points more than Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and two more than Mercedes team mate Nico Rosberg.

Final practice was run earlier, when the rain was less intense, without spectators being allowed in for safety reasons. When the gates finally did open at noon, the cars remained out of sight in the garages.

"The rain is so hard that no wet tire can take the cars round safely. Why we are all wasting our time for delays, delays, delays?," said Mercedes non-executive chairman and retired triple champion Niki Lauda before the final postponement.

Formula One has held qualifying sessions on the Sunday before now, most recently in Australia in 2013 when rain and poor light forced the delay.   Continued...

Formula One - F1 - United States Grand Prix 2015 - Circuit of the Americas, Austin, Texas, United States of America - 24/10/15
Nico Rosberg of Mercedes in action during practice
Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Hoch Zwei