The start got underway on time with the field all on intermediate tyres but a hectic opening lap with the rain getting heavier resulted in the red flag being flown on the second lap. 

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz crashed out from third when he aquaplaned into the barriers, while Williams driver Alex Albon retired with a mechanical problem. 

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There were issues too for Sebastian Vettel and Zhou Guanyu, both of whom suffered spins, while Pierre Gasly picked up an advertising hoarding on the front of his AlphaTauri. 

With the rain getting heavier and the spray worsening, the race was suspended on the second lap. 

The FIA stated the red flag was “due to worsening weather conditions and recovery operations required on track”, adding the restart time will be confirmed by Race Control. 

At the time of the red flag, Max Verstappen was leading from Charles Leclerc, Sergio Perez, Esteban Ocon and Lewis Hamilton

Verstappen will wrap up his second world title at Suzuka if he wins the race with the fastest lap, or outscores Leclerc by eight points.