F1 changes Imola schedule to avoid clash with royal funeral

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LONDON, April 13 (Reuters) – Formula One will shift practice and qualifying for this weekend’s second race of the season at Imola in Italy to avoid having cars on track during the funeral of Britain’s Prince Philip.

The sport and governing FIA said on Tuesday that qualifying for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix will move forward to 1200-1300 GMT (1400-1500 local) as a mark of respect for the royal who died last Friday aged 99.

Final practice will be brought forward to 0900-1000 GMT to comply with regulations that state there must be a two hour gap between the sessions.

Friday times have also been changed in accordance with rules requiring final practice to start no less than 19 hours after the end of second practice.

The funeral at Windsor Castle starts with a national minute’s silence at 1500 local (1400 GMT).

Formula One said it will also hold a minute’s silence ahead of qualifying “as an opportunity for people to show their respects.”

Seven of the 10 Formula One teams, as well as the sport itself, are British-based including champions Mercedes and Prince Philip was president-in-chief of the British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) for 42 years.Mercedes’ seven-times world champion Lewis Hamilton, who leads the championship, was awarded a knighthood in December’s UK honours list.

Britain’s Queen Elizabeth attended the first world championship Formula One grand prix at Silverstone in 1950.

Other sporting events in soccer, rugby, and horse racing in Britain have been rescheduled to avoid clashing with the funeral. 

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)