Japanese Grand Prix – Typhoon Hagibis is forecasted to hit the Suzuka area on Saturday, meaning all track running that day is in doubt.
As reported yesterday, Typhoon Hagibis is currently making its way in a north-westerly direction from the south-east of the Asian continent. It’s predicted to hit Japan this weekend but, as the storm nears the country, the exact location and scale will be easier to predict.
Former Formula 1 meteorologist Steffen Dietz is keeping a close eye on Hagibis as it swirls its way towards Japan. He says that Saturday is the likely day that Suzuka will feel the effects of the storm: ” Hagibis is still a powerful super typhoon with gusts above 300 kph. Numerical models are in good agreement regarding track through Friday, afterwards some uncertainties arise. From today’s point of view landfall is likely between Suzuka and Tokyo on Saturday.”
Predicting the amount of rain that will hit the track, he said: “Distance to the passing eye/center of the already weakened typhoon will play a huge role. At this stage about 100 mm of rain and gusts around 100 kph are possible at the track during Saturday. For race day conditions should improve significantly.”
Numerical models are in good agreement regarding track through Friday, afterwards some uncertainties arise. From today's point of view landfall is likely between Suzuka and Tokyo on Saturday. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/ooMxgvXZ5z
— Steffen Dietz (@sdietzf1) October 8, 2019
This means that, as it stands, Saturday tracktime is quite unlikely. FP3 may be brought forward, or cancelled, while qualifying can be shifted to Sunday morning if necessary – this happened back in 2004 when Typhoon Ma-On hit the circuit. Both qualifying and the race were instead held on Sunday.
A typhoon also hit the circuit during the 2014 event, with Typhoon Phanfone disrupting proceedings. That race went ahead despite heavy rain, with the event marred by the crash that befell Jules Bianchi in the dwindling light. Bianchi suffered critical head injuries and never regained consciousness – he passed away in hospital nine months later.