Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix is set to be a wet and wild affair as Typhoon Phanfone threatens to cause havoc to travel plans and preparations for next weekend’s Russian Grand Prix.
It was confirmed earlier this week that the typhoon, currently in the Pacific, was heading towards Japan across the course of the weekend, bringing with it strong winds and torrential rain.
Formula 1 has had to contend with poor weather in Japan in the past, with qualifying for the 2004 and 2010 grands prix being held on Sunday morning when the weather had improved.
However, the more serious concern in 2014 is not the weather during the race, but instead the plans for the F1 paddock to make a swift getaway on the Monday after the race, when the typhoon is expected to hit.
“The current forecasts from the Formula 1 Weather Service indicates the arrival of rainbands, these at times heavy, for Sunday and, with the centre of the Typhoon will pass close by on Monday morning with widespread transport disruption, structural damage and possible injuries,” a statement from UBIMET reads.
“For Sunday there are no significant changes to previous forecasts. The rain will largely be persistent – possibly with an occasional drier interlude – but also it will become heavy at times, this more likely after midday. Thus, at the scheduled time by 15:00 local time, a wet race seems to be a likely scenario. The expert on-site meteorologists expect the passage of the typhoon centre between the early and the afternoon hours of Monday.
“The huge mass of equipment that Formula 1 operates must be dismantled and packed up immediately after the race – Sunday evening into Monday (local time) and after that transported from Japan to Russia. The Grand Prix of Russia takes place on the following Sunday, October 12th. Keeping to this tight schedule will be wholly dependent on how the typhoon behaves and will surely be a tough challenge.”
The challenge is two-fold for Formula 1. Firstly, it must contend with wet weather during the race. Quite how severe it will be is unclear, but with the green flag set to drop at 3pm local time, a possible option is an earlier start as any interruption or red flag period would probably cause the race to be cut short due to poor light.
This would also give the paddock more time to pack up and move out of the area before Monday, which is the second issue. There isn’t a chance to let this blow over and head out of Japan on Tuesday or Wednesday, as the Russian Grand Prix is next weekend. Everyone and everything must be in Sochi early next week.
Currently, there are no plans to change the original schedule, but a final decision will come at midday local time tomorrow.
Holding the race on Saturday was an option raised by many, but according to F1 journalist Adam Cooper, this was shot down by race promoters Honda.
Here’s the updated path for Typhoon Phanfone, courtesy of UBIMET.
— F1® Racing on NBC (@F1onNBCSports) October 3, 2014