Motor racing-Russian F1 qualifying goes ahead after heavy rain

Formula One F1 - Russian Grand Prix - Sochi Autodrom, Sochi, Russia - September 25, 2021 A man holds an umbrella as FP3 is cancelled due to rain ahead of qualifying REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

(Reuters) -Final practice for the Russian Formula One Grand Prix was cancelled due to heavy rain in Sochi on Saturday but conditions improved and qualifying started as scheduled.

Race director Michael Masi had said earlier that the session at the Olympic Park could be postponed until Sunday morning if necessary.

Qualifying started on time on a wet track, with cars kicking up spray but the rain easing off and bright patches overhead.

Red Bull's championship leader Max Verstappen is set to start from the back regardless, due to an engine change.

Mercedes' title rival Lewis Hamilton will be looking to overturn the Dutch youngster's five-point advantage with what would be a record-extending 100th career win.

Mercedes have won every Russian Grand Prix in Sochi since the first in 2014 and Hamilton's team mate Valtteri Bottas, last year's race winner, has said he will obey team orders if necessary.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)

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