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Italian GP qualifying on hold after heavy rain, Grosjean crash

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Formula 1 qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix has been put on hold after heavy rain hit Monza in the lead-up to the start of the session, resulting in a crash for Haas driver Romain Grosjean.

In the area’s first rainfall since July, rain through the night and in the lead-up to the first practice session of the day saw running in FP3 be cut to just 16 minutes, with only seven drivers completing a lap.

The rain resulted in the cancellation of GP3 qualifying and a delay for the Porsche Supercup session, but officials deemed the track fine for F1 qualifying to begin at 2pm local time as planned.

A number of drivers reported low visibility heading out on-track, with Grosjean complaining that he could not see where he was going.

Moments after crossing the line, Grosjean lost control of his Haas VF-17 while applying the throttle on the main straight, spinning into the wall.

The shunt forced officials to throw a red flag, before confirming that the session would remain on hold, with the next update due at 2:30pm local time (8:30am ET).

Grosjean was left fuming after the shunt, but was able to get out of his Haas car unharmed.

UPDATES

14:30 – Qualifying will not restart until 14:45 at the earliest.

14:45 – Further information to be issued by race control at 15:00. The rain does appear to have stopped, but track conditions still not good enough yet.

14:50 – Race director Charlie Whiting has offered an update on conditions.

“It’s raining, but it’s easing off a little bit, but the weather seems to be swirling around quite a lot and we can’t get a very clear picture of what might happen,” he said.

“We’re just waiting for the water to drain off the track a little bit more because our safety car driver still feels the car is aquaplaning on the straights and we don’t want that of course.

“And then we’ll have to try and do the best we can to read the radar images to see if this is going to clear up or not. It’s very tricky at the moment because the weather is very unpredictable.”

15:00 – Another update, and another delay. More information at 15:15.

15:15 – Aaaaand the same again: more information in another 15 minutes. Race Control also confirms there will be 10 minutes warning before any restart.

15:30 – More information at 15:45. Rain growing heavier.

15:45 – More information at 16:00…

16:00 – More information at 16:15. It’s not looking hopeful.

16:15 – Another 15 minutes. Race Control is reportedly looking at making a decision either way soon about qualifying today or not soon.

16:30 – Great news! Qualifying will resume at 16:40 local time.

McLaren almost back on schedule with 2018 F1 car after delay

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McLaren is almost back on schedule with its 2018 Formula 1 car development after losing two weeks due to a delay in deciding on its engine supplier, according to racing director Eric Boullier.

McLaren confirmed back in September it would be cutting ties with Honda at the end of the year after three difficult seasons, favoring a switch to Renault power units.

The decision was not taken lightly by McLaren, causing it to lose two weeks in the development of next year’s car, but Boullier confirmed in an interview with the official F1 website that the team is almost back on-track.

“Maybe we made the decision to change the engine manufacturer two weeks too late for our schedule, but these two weeks have almost been recovered,” Boullier said.

“Any big decisions are always difficult to take. The concept of McLaren winning with Honda was a dream for everybody, yes – it was a beautiful story.

“Today we have huge respect for them and we definitely don’t divorce with fights and screams and finger pointing. We are all very professional – and in the end it was a business decision, which they understand.

“There is a sadness that it didn’t work out like we wanted. McLaren-Honda in terms of brands was a good fit – in terms of results it didn’t work.

“That’s what it is in the end. Now we have to see that we get back to competitiveness – back to the top!”