Japanese Grand Prix – Charles Leclerc, amongst others, says he doesn’t think Saturday’s F1 schedule is likely to happen due to the incoming typhoon.
With Typhoon Hagibis bearing down on Japan and expected to hit the Suzuka area at some point on Saturday, there are question marks over the Formula 1 schedule – mostly being whether qualifying and the race can go ahead at all.
The FIA have issued a statement saying they are monitoring the situation, and will make decisions based on the weather as it turns.
Speaking at the Driver’s Press Conference at Suzuka, Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc said he has no doubts that the FIA will ensure the safety of all the drivers: “I think it’s pretty clear if the typoon is going to come here there’s no way we can drive but off my previous experience – and I’ve only done one year and a half in Formula One but they’ve always been quite safe with the conditions. So yeah, they’ve always asked what we thought about the track once we’re in the car. So, yeah, happy. We will see.”
Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg said it’s important to try and make sure the weekend goes ahead as normal if possible, but said there’s not a whole lot that can be done if Typhoon Hagibis does bring the expected level of rain and wind: “I think we’ve seen in recent years that, 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, I think, pretty tricky. We can obviously debate a lot and discuss but I think we just have to wait and see what actually hits us and how bad it is, or not, and make the right call at the time.”
“Obviously there’s 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 – but obviously we need to see what happens and we’re at the mercy of the weather there.”
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen quipped: “I’ve got my speedboat on standby so I’m ready to go for Saturday!” but continued on to say that he thinks it’ll be very obvious on the day whether qualifying or the race goes ahead. He said he doesn’t think Saturday running will happen but that “Sunday looks fine. Let’s see.”
McLaren’s Carlos Sainz said he has full confidence in the decisions on the typhoon that will be taken by Race Control and F1 Race Director Michael Masi: “I have full trust in Michael and his team that we will run in safe conditions if we do so. Hockenheim is a good example. The first five laps of the race it was clearly a bit too wet and until the drivers there in the midfield, we didn’t say it was safe enough, it wasn’t clearly green flag. So, it’s not a problem for me.”
Williams’ George Russell backed up the other drivers, saying that standing water is the biggest obstacle to driving: “It will be pretty clear come Saturday what the situation will be. I think we can handle quite a lot of water. It’s just the standing puddles and the aquaplaning that is the biggest limitation for us. So, like Carlos said, I’m sure they’ll make the right decision.”