A number of Formula 1 drivers have "full trust" that officials at Suzuka will not take any unnecessary risks amid the approach of a super typhoon that could impact the Japanese Grand Prix weekend.

Typhoon Hagibis is set to make landfall in Japan on Saturday, bringing 90 mph winds and heavy rain that look set to affect on-track action at Suzuka.

Two Rugby World Cup fixtures planned for Saturday have already been cancelled in anticipation of the typhoon’s arrival, but F1 is yet to make any firm decision on its schedule, saying earlier today that it is “closely monitoring” the situation.

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc said he had confidence that the officials tasked with making a decision on the weekend schedule would consult the drivers accordingly and not take any undue risks.

“It’s pretty clear if the typhoon is going to come here, there is no way we can drive,” Leclerc said.

“Of my previous experience, I have only done one year and a half in Formula 1, but they have always been quite safe with the conditions. They always asked what we thought about the track once we were in the car. So I’m happy. We will see.”

Max Verstappen joked he had "my speedboat on standby", but felt it was "going to be very clear anyway if it is possible or not" to run qualifying.

"At the moment, it doesn’t really look very likely on Saturday," he said. "Sunday looks fine. But let’s see."

“I think we’ve seen in recent years in terms of rain we don’t need too much for it to be unsafe. Especially when you throw wind in there as well, it gets pretty tricky,” added Nico Hulkenberg.

“We can obviously debate a lot and discuss, but I think we have to wait and see what actually hits us and how bad it is or not, and then make the right call at the time.

“There are a lot of fans here. We want to race, they want to see us drive, so I think we need to try and make this weekend happen. We need to see what happens. We’re at the mercy of the weather.”

Carlos Sainz said he had “full trust” in race director Michael Masi and his team to only run in safe conditions, using the wet start to the German Grand Prix earlier this year as evidence: “Hockenheim is a good example, to know that the first five laps of the race it was clearly too wet, until the drivers there in the midfield said it was safe enough, it was clearly green flag. It’s not a problem for me.”

Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel said the focus must lie not only on ensuring the drivers remain safe, but also the bumper crowd of fans that is due at the track on Saturday for qualifying.

“I don’t think anyone wants to put anyone’s life in danger, so I think we need to keep things on the ground,” Vettel said. “There is a forecast, but how many times have forecasts changed? I don’t know. Currently it sits at a 100% so it’s quite clear. But I think we see what happens throughout the weekend.

“It would make sense if by tomorrow at night, I believe if there is more evidence to give a proposal, or take an action for Saturday, thinking not for us, as it’s cosy in the garage, but for all the people around the track.”

Pierre Gasly has experienced losing track time at Suzuka to typhoons before. His Super Formula title showdown in 2017 was cancelled as a result of one, meaning he lost the championship by half a point to Hiroaki Ishiura.

“I’m still having nightmares about the typhoon I had in Super Formula!” Gasly joked. “All the people in Honda and Red Bull are taking the piss that I always bring the typhoon here with me as well. This one seems pretty big as well. Let’s just see what happens.”

Saturday’s schedule to be scrapped, qualifying would be postponed until Sunday morning. Similar pre-emptive action was taken at Suzuka in 2004 due to a typhoon, while attempts to run qualifying in 2010 fell short because of the weather, with the session again taking place on Sunday morning before the race.

 

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