QUALIFICATION for the Japanese Grand Prix has been postponed as a the Suzuka circuit is threatened by Typhoon Hagibis.
With the practice session also cancelled, qualifying will now take place at 10am local time Sunday – just hours before the race itself.
Lewis Hamilton, who is nearing his sixth world title, was one of many drivers hoping for qualification to be pushed to Sunday[/caption]
The announcement comes after Formula One bosses were under pressure to follow the Rugby World Cup’s lead and cede to the oncoming super typhoon.
A statement posted on the Formula 1 website read: “As a result of the predicted impact of Typhoon Hagibis on the Formula One Japanese Grand Prix 2019, Mobilityland and the Japanese Automobile Federation (JAF) have decided to cancel all activities scheduled to take place on Saturday, 12 October.
“The FIA and Formula 1 support this decision in the interest of safety for the spectators, competitors and everyone at the Suzuka Circuit.”
Qualification for the Japanese Grand Prix has previously been postponed in 2004 and 2010 due to bad weather[/caption]
The Category 5 storm is expected to bring torrential rain and gusts of over 100mph, which would have put spectators’ lives at risk, while F1 cars themselves would not be able to run under such conditions.
Lewis Hamilton – who cannot win the Drivers’ Championship but could wrap up the Constructors’ Championship this weekend – had previously declared his support for moving qualifying to Sunday.
The five-time world champion said: “I am sure they have procedures in place to move it to Sunday morning.
“We are already planning to see what we might do differently in practice if it is dry.
“I don’t mind having qualifying on Sunday.
“I am happy for them to do that every year. It is cool when the format is different on a Sunday.
“You have to enter into a different mindset and two different rhythms.
“Normally you have time after qualifying to calm down and chill and then ramp it up to the next day.
“But if you have to do it on the same day, that’s a different challenge and I like that.
“I hope they do different formats for different races.
“I love driving in the rain but it is pretty intense here when it rains.”
This is not the first time qualifying for the Japanese GP has been postponed due to bad weather – in 2004 and 2010 it was also moved to Sunday.
Five years ago, driver Jules Bianchi had a fatal accident as Suzuka in what proved to be the start of Typhoon Phanfone.
Two Formula 4 races have already been taken off the schedule for the Japanese Grand Prix to allow F1 more flexibility to host qualifying and the race.
With Typhoon Hagibis set to hit Japan Saturday lunchtime, the forecast for Sunday remains dry.
The race remains scheduled for 2:10pm local time.