Typhoon Phanfone update: Heavy rain to mar Japanese GP, eye of the storm to hit on Monday

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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.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.