The possible landfall of Typhoon Phanfone could have massive implications for this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.
The Suzuka paddock was lashed with heavy rain on Thursday, and there are predictions that conditions could get much worse if the typhoon – which has been gaining intensity in the Pacific Ocean – heads towards Japan.
While predicting its exact path remains an educated guess at best, speculation suggests that the worst impact will be felt on Sunday afternoon – either during the race or after – which could dramatically impact the race schedule itself, as well as the teams’ ability to pack up and get its equipment to next weekend’s Grand Prix in Russia.
There are suggestions that this weekend’s event format could be tweaked to ensure that the freight does get to Russia on time. One rumour has it that FP3 could be scrapped in favour of qualifying being brought forward to allow the race to take place on Saturday.
The Japanese Grand Prix’s historically ‘late in the year’ scheduling leaves it prone to the risk of wild weather given it is typically timed during typhoon season. The 1976 race at Fuji was disrupted by wild weather, while similar conditions also affected the 1994 and 2007 races. In 2004, the Suzuka circuit was set to be in the path of Typhoon Ma-On (forcing a rescheduling of qualifying), while a similar situation befell the 2010 race where qualifying took place on the Sunday morning before the race.