Despite the best efforts of the event organizers, the race officials and the race teams and drivers to salvage the day, the strong winds and rough seas that had prevailed for the previous three days in Dammam, Saudi Arabai, preventing any on water activity until Saturday, ultimately proved too severe, forcing officials to cancel the first race of the 2019 Union Internationale Motonautique F1 H2O World Championship season.
Although the Grand Prix of Saudi Arabia was eventually cancelled due to rough conditions, defending F1 H2O world champion Shaun Torrente of Team Abu Dhabi got to show off the No. 1 on the side of his boat. Photo courtesy F1 H2O
In an effort to get the race underway the start was delayed by half an hour in hope that the conditions might ease and the boats were eventually craned onto the water for a parade lap and then, following the safety boat, completed several laps of the shortened circuit to evaluate the situation.
But after three laps the boats were called back to the pontoon and the race was officially cancelled.
“It is a bitterly disappointing outcome especially for all the spectators, but in these conditions it is just not possible to race,” said Blaze Performance driver Francesco Cantando, the most experienced driver on the F1 H2O tour. “I have raced in a lot of rough races but today was too much. It was a hard decision to make to cancel the race, but it was the right one.”
Earlier in the day the drivers went out for a scheduled 90-minute qualifying session, but that also fell-foul of the conditions and was halted after 30 minutes with the majority of drivers managing just a handful of laps.
Defending champion and Florida native Shaun Torrente of Team Abu Dhabi was sitting on top of the time sheets when the red flag was raised with a 1:14.36-second lap around the 2.23-kilometer course—0.51 seconds quicker than Cantando, with Peter Morin a further 3.92 seconds back and third quickest.
After Saturday’s disappointing outcome, the F1 H2O World Championship now heads to the Algarve resort of Portimao, Portugal, for the UIM F1 H2O Grand Prix of Portugal on May 17-19.
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