F1 »

Rain threatens Japanese GP qualifying

Torrential rain threatens to postpone qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix until Sunday morning, just hours before the race is due to start.
Rumours suggesting that F1 qualifying could be postponed to Sunday morning are beginning to circulate the Suzuka paddock after heavy rain threatened to wash out Saturday's usual Japanese Grand Prix action.

The downpour, which had been expected, followed a Friday evening thunderstorm and intensified before Saturday morning's third free practice session, but quickly soaked the tricky Japanese circuit and left the majority of the field cooling their heels in the pit-lane as their teams decided that it was too risky to send them out. As McLaren's Lewis Hamilton - and others - proved on Friday, the circuit was capable of catching drivers out even without the extra complication of a flooded circuit, and safety could become a major concern ahead of the crucial qualifying session.

Although no official confirmation had been received from the stewards, several teams secretly admitted that they doubted that qualifying could take place if the conditions prevailed, with every driver to have ventured out in the one-hour session reporting severe aquaplaning, regardless of the competence of the Bridgestone tyres.

"Our forecast is that the rain is going to get heavier," Lotus technical head Mike Gascoyne told the BBC, "If it's like this, they'll have to look at postponing qualifying until tomorrow morning.

"If they say go out at two o'clock, we'll go out at two o'clock, but it doesn't do anybody any good if half the field are in the Turn One barrier."

There is precedent, of course, for postponing qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix, after the 2004 event was disrupted by the threat of typhoon Ma-on. The entire Suzuka circuit was shut down on day two of the weekend, ironically also the 9 October, despite the storm eventually passing close by and not hitting the venue directly. Qualifying was then run early on Sunday morning. The 2005 event was also affected by inclement weather, but qualifying took place as usual, setting the scene for one of the best races of the season as Kimi Raikkonen came from the back of the grid to snatch victory from Giancarlo Fisichella.

Although alternative methods for setting the grid remain open to the stewards - including using the order in which cars take to the track for a wet session that is subsequently abandoned - it appears that postponing it is the most likely option should the conditions, which sees rivers running across the track in various places, not improve.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
A river of water flows furiously down the Suzuka pit-lane as the weather worsens prior to the arrival of the typhoon expected to hit the circuit on Saturday
Friday Practice 1, Lewis Hamilton (GBR), McLaren  Mercedes, MP4-25
Suzuka`s big wheel stands out against the storm clouds that accompanied qualifying for the Japanese GP
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB13
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Sergio Perez (MEX) Sahara Force India F1 VJM010
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Esteban Ocon (FRA) Sahara Force India F1 VJM10
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW40
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Eric Boullier (FRA) McLaren Racing Director
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Lance Stroll (CDN) Williams FW40
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Carlos Sainz Jr (ESP) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR12
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB13
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Felipe Massa (BRA) Williams FW40
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Renault Sport F1 Team RS17
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
13.05.2017 - Qualifying, Fernando Alonso (ESP) McLaren MCL32

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.

© 1999 - 2017 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.