Japanese GP in holding pattern as Typhoon Hagibis approaches

NAGOYA, Japan (AP) – With the Suzuka circuit shuttered yesterday because of the approaching typhoon, the Japanese Grand Prix was in a holding pattern with drivers forced to spend the day at their hotels.

Organisers cancelled yesterday’s qualifying session with Typhoon Hagibis hitting Japan’s main island yesterday.

Plans are for the Formula One (F1) race to be run as scheduled today at 2pm local time (0500 GMT), with qualifying earlier in the day.

Typhoon Hagibis, which could dump amounts of rain not seen since a deadly typhoon in 1958, made landfall on the Pacific coast of central or eastern Japan yesterday evening.

Signs were put up at the circuit on Friday telling fans that all activities for yesterday had been cancelled.

“We got an unexpected day off on Saturday but I’m sure the team will keep me busy,” Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas said after leading Friday’s final practice. “But we’ll be digging into the data and make the most out of it.”

If qualifying goes ahead today, it will mean a busy day for the drivers but it’s not unprecedented.

Qualifying at Suzuka was moved to a Sunday morning as a result of bad weather in 2004 and 2010.

If qualifying is cancelled, race stewards can use the classification from the second practice for the grid positions.

Mercedes confirmed they’d take down the usual panelling at the front and back of their garage and avoid keeping equipment in the garage off the floor in case of flooding. Other teams will likely follow suit.

Some drivers expressed a desire to return to Tokyo yesterday but with the typhoon hitting the Japanese capital last night, that might be difficult.

Train and flight services between Tokyo and Nagoya were suspended.

The circuit information board shows the cancellation for yesterday’s schedule at the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix at Suzuka Circuit in Suzuka, central Japan. PHOTO: AP