A typhoon is likely to hit this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix, with Saturday’s qualifying session at risk based on the most recent forecasts.
Typhoon Hagibis is projected to make landfall in Japan over the weekend, bringing with it torrential rain and winds at speeds of up to 170mph. Currently categorized as a Super Typhoon, one of the most powerful tropical cyclones of the year is expected to weaken slightly before hitting Japan — should it continue to track as expected — but according to the Joint Typhoon Warning Center will still be “a very strong typhoon.”
Although a major improvement in the weather is expected on Sunday, the potential path of the typhoon is likely to result in severe weather at Suzuka on Saturday, putting qualifying at risk. In the past, qualifying has been held on Sunday morning when weather conditions have not allowed it to remain at its scheduled time.
At present there has been no official update from the race organizers, FIA or Formula 1 about any contingency plans. Japan is also currently hosting the Rugby World Cup, with games potentially being relocated or cancelled due to the expected conditions.
Typhoon warnings are relatively common in the build-up to the Japanese Grand Prix but rarely do they develop to the extent of Typhoon Hagibis. The last time a typhoon affected the race was in 2014, when wet weather and high winds struck and led to a delayed race that was later red flagged and ended early in fading light following Jules Bianchi’s fatal accident when he hit a mobile crane.