12 October 2019 17:04
JAPAN is bracing itself for Typhoon Hagibis. The powerful storm has been described as 'violent' by weather forecasters and could affect this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix. 1 Jensen Button had to contend with torrential rain at Suzuka in 2004 Credit: Reuters How will Typhoon Hagibis affect the Japanese Grand Prix? F1 has seen its schedule changed amid the super typhoon that is set to devastate the east of Japan this weekend. Rugby World Cup matches have also been changed for October 12 and 13.
England vs France from Yokohama is among those to be called off, with Sunday's matches still under consideration. New Zealand secured their place in the next round after their match against Italy - who still had a chance of progressing but now miss out - was cancelled. But Scotland are hoping they are still able to play Japan in Yokohama on Sunday, with a quarter-final place theirs if they win. Weather models project the monster storm will continue on a north-westerly path towards Japan where it is expected to make landfall around Saturday morning. Estimates vary about where it will hit, but F1 chiefs are taking no chances and are already bracing themselves for the worst.
After a meeting on Friday between the sport's governing body FIA, owner Liberty Media and Suzuka Circuit chiefs, there will be no qualifying on Saturday. BST). A track inspection has been scheduled for Sunday morning - with qualifying set to take place at 10am local time (2am BST) if all is fine. The race will then go ahead later that day at its original time of 2.10pm in Japan (6.10am This is not the first time typhoons have affected F1, with torrential rain at Suzuka in 2014 forced the Grand Prix to be red flagged during the race as a result of Typhoon Phonfone. Jules Bianchi had crashed during the race, and sadly died nine months later due to injuries sustained. How big is it? THE storm is predicted to move in a north-westerly direction as the week progresses. This would see it hit mainland Japan - but weather forecasters agree that it would weaken when on land. MOST READ IN SPORT Gossip CR-AMP HIS STYLE Chelsea consider Ampadu recall after lack of playing time at RB Leipzig SUPERHUMAN Eliud Kipchoge becomes first person to run a marathon in under 2 hours NOT KEANE Roy Keane warns Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard they may never play for England again BIG SYK Usyk 'bossed' Klitschko so much in sparring that he was told to 'get out of ring' Revealed CLINK FLOYD Mayweather's prison hell as he lived on Snickers and noodles and paid gangsters Exclusive MATT'S NOT ON Newcastle ace Matty Longstaff who scored United winner earns just £850 a week Winds are gusting up to 165mph in the giant storm, which by some predictions could change direction and hit Tokyo. Japan sees around 20 typhoons every year, although they do tend to vary in both strength and impact. Currently, it is classed as "violent", which is the highest level of severity on Japan's typhoon charts. While Super Typhoon Hagibis has dominated the conversation around the Japanese Grand Prix weekend, there is a strong chance the weekend will be completed without anyone turning a lap on wet weather tyres. Suzuka appears to have been spared the brunt of the storm which prompted the cancellation of final practice and postponement of qualifying to tomorrow. But the massive storm has caused huge disruption elsewhere, and hundreds of thousands of people have been told to evacuate in other parts of Japan. F1 can therefore consider itself fortunate that forecasts indicate tomorrow's packed schedule should be able to go ahead in dry conditions. Tomorrow's 'Super Sunday' will include the rescheduled qualifying hour, at 10am in the morning, followed by the race at 2:10pm, by which time the sun may even have reappear at the circuit. This is good news for teams which did not set competitive lap times in second practice, as that session will be determined to set the grid order if qualifying does not take place. As that now appears unlikely Renault can breathe a sigh of relief, as it means Daniel Ricciardo and Nico Hulkenberg are not necessarily confined to 17th and 18th places on the grid. That practice session indicated the top three teams are fairly close but Mercedes' aerodynamic upgrade may have just lifted them clear of Ferrari and Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton, who refers to this as one of his weaker tracks despite having won four of Suzuka's last five races, was out-paced by Valtteri Bottas in both sessions. However Hamilton had explanation for the difference between the pair of them. "Valtteri got a massive tow on his fastest lap," said Hamilton, "he gained like half a second out the back straight." Suzuka's twisty first two sectors are not where you want to be following another car closely. But the final sector is mostly flat-out. "It's an interesting dynamic because you don't want to be behind someone through the first part because you need clean air. But if you're lucky and you get a slipstream later on then it's perfect." It's therefore unlikely we'll see drivers vying for a tow in qualifying, which caused so much trouble at Monza. Assuming the storm hasn't caused any damage at the circuit, the concern for the drivers tomorrow will be how the downpour has changed the available grip. Sebastian Vettel said the state of the surface "will be a big question mark on Sunday". Expect to see the field hurrying out en masse at the start of a frantic Q1 session. Qualifying and racing on the same day will bring additional challenges for the teams. Suzuka's close confined make it easy to damage a car, and teams needing to repair damage after qualifying will have only around three hours to complete the job. Disrupted practice sessions can often lead to surprises in the races. Will this help Ferrari or Red Bull take the fight to Mercedes? Most teams were able to pre-empt Saturday's inclement weather by doing more running in first and second practice. But tyre performance in the race will remain a significant question mark due to the expected change in grip levels. This could be a particular concern for Ferrari, as their long-run pace didn't look as strong as Mercedes' on Friday. However Max Verstappen set an encouraging pace on Friday in a car equipped with an upgraded Honda engine and new fuel formula designed to allow drivers to extract maximum power more often. It could be one of the home-powered cars which emerge as the closest challenger to Mercedes. Longest stint comparison – second practice This chart shows all the drivers' lap times (in seconds) during their longest unbroken stint. Very slow laps omitted. Scroll to zoom, drag to pan, right-click to reset: Combined practice times Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free Teams' progress vs 2018 Go ad-free for just £1 per month>> Find out more and sign up Quotes: Dieter Rencken 2019 Japanese Grand Prix