F1 qualifying to take place on Sunday as typhoon closes in on Japan
Saturday’s scheduled action at Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix has been abandoned, due to the impending arrival of Typhoon Hagibis, with qualifying now set for Sunday morning.
Typhoon Hagibis is the largest and strongest of the 2019 season and is set to make landfall on Japan’s eastern coast on Saturday evening.
It developed rapidly through the early stages of last weekend, explosively intensifying in the space of just a few hours into a super typhoon.
The violent storm is expected to bring intense and sustained rainfall to the affected regions, including Suzuka, through Saturday.
As much as 600mm of rainfall is anticipated in some areas of the country across a 24-hour period.
The storm will weaken as it makes landfall but heavy and prolonged winds, including potentially damaging gusts, are also forecast.
Sustained one-minute gusts of 150mph have been recorded as the storm continues its path across the Pacific Ocean towards Japan.
On Friday morning the four relevant bodies involved in the organisation of the event – the FIA, Formula 1, Suzuka promoter Mobilityland and the Japanese Automobile Federation – made the call to scrap Saturday’s action.
The circuit will be closed to spectators and media on Saturday.
Instead qualifying is now scheduled to take place at 10:00 local time on Sunday (01:00 GMT), ahead of the 53-lap grand prix at 14:10, with no third practice session held.
The fast-moving nature of the storm means largely fine and dry conditions are expected on Sunday.
Severe disruption is expected throughout the eastern side of the country on Saturday, with most domestic flights passing through Tokyo’s Haneda and Narita airports already cancelled.
The Shinkansen – bullet train – services operating between Tokyo and Osaka, which passes through the nearest major city to Suzuka, Nagoya, is likely to be suspended or heavily reduced in speed.
Two of the three planned Rugby World Cup fixtures on Saturday have also been cancelled, with England vs France, in Yokohama, and New Zealand vs Italy, in Nagoya, abandoned.