The Japanese GP is under threat from Typhoon Phanphone, which is expected to pass close to the Suzuka area on race day.
The biggest issue is not so much wind as heavy rain, which could be bad enough to stop the cars from taking to the track. With the cars and equipment due to be packed on Sunday night for travel to Sochi there is no possibility for a rain delay, and in any case the weather is likely to get worse on Monday.
Bernie Ecclestone is not in Japan this week but he is talking to FIA race director Charlie Whiting about possible scenarios. Team managers were told that an early start on Sunday, allowing a bigger window to get the race in, is one option.
In the past at Suzuka, qualifying has been postponed to Sunday due to weather issues. One possibility could be to squeeze both qualifying and race into Saturday, although that will have big implications both for TV broadcasters and, of course, paying spectators.
Clearly that decision will have to be taken sooner rather than later, but with the forecast changing, it will be a big call for the FIA and other key parties to make.
Steffen Dietz, of official F1 weather forecaster Ubimet, said: “There are still big uncertainties for the storm track in the coming days. The current forecast track for typhoon Phanfone keeps the eye of the storm to the southeast of Japan on Sunday but with associated rain bands extending north towards Suzuka during the morning. Once it starts the rain is likely to be prolonged and become increasingly heavy. Winds will be mostly light initially but freshen as the days goes on. At this time, nothing too severe is expected before Monday.”
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