The shootout for grid positions at Baku had been due to start at 6pm local time.
However, a change of the schedule has been prompted as the result of an incident at the end of the earlier Formula 2 sprint race.
Following a last-lap safety car restart, Campos Racing’s Ralph Boschung had nudged Calan Williams into the barriers on the outside of Turn 1, before Cem Bolukbasi (Charouz) and Virtuosi’s Marino Sato made contact with the side of his stricken Trident car.
The damage to the Tecpro barriers prompted some lengthy work from track officials, and meant that the final F1 free practice session started 15 minutes later than anticipated.
But with the FIA electing to run the session for it full hour, rather than starting the clock at the original start time so it ended as scheduled at 4pm, it meant a finish time of 4.15pm local time.
F1 has long had a rule that dictates qualifying cannot start any less than two hours after the end of practice so that has impacted the rest of the day’s timetable.
Article 39.1 b) of F1’s Sporting Regulations states that on a non sprint-race weekend qualifying will take place: « on the second day of on track running and will start no less than two (2) hours, and no more than three (3) ) hours after the end of P3. »
Sebastian Vettel, Aston Martin AMR22
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
A statement from the FIA confirmed that there would be no intervention in shuffling the timetable to begin at the original time.
It said: « Following the delay to the start of FP3 which was due to barrier repairs after the F2 sprint race – the start of qualifying will be 15 minutes later than scheduled in accordance with Article 39 of the sporting regulations. »
The slight delay to F1 qualifying will be of good news to some motorsport fans as it means there is no longer a direct clash with the start of the Le Mans 24 Hours race that begins in France.
However, the extra 15 minutes delay pushes F1 much closer to when it begins getting dark, with qualifying due to finish at 7.15pm, less than one hour before sunset.