Lewis Hamilton backs F1 bosses’ decision to delay changes to Super Typhoon-threatened Japanese Grand Prix – despite Rugby World Cup chiefs already cancelling fixtures
- The Japanese Grand Prix is under threat due to Super Typhoon Hagibis
- England’s Rugby World Cup clash with France has already been cancelled
- Violent winds and heavy rain are expected to hit the area over the weekend
- Qualifying could be staged on Sunday morning instead of traditional Saturday
Lewis Hamilton is ready to tackle the elements at this weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix – regardless of Super Typhoon Hagibis.
Formula One bosses are expected to make a decision on Friday morning whether qualifying will be postponed.
Rugby World Cup organisers have already cancelled England’s match against France and New Zealand’s game with Italy on Saturday due to the approach of the once-in-a-year storm.
Lewis Hamilton has backed the decision to delay changes to the Japanese Grand Prix
The region’s most powerful typhoon of 2019 is set to bring violent winds and heavy rain to the area.
A contingency plan is in place to move the battle for pole position to Sunday morning before the race, but F1 bosses are expected to finalise their scheduling on Friday.
F1 and its governing body, the FIA, have staged twice-daily meetings with circuit officials and local authorities. It is understood that the latter expressed its surprise at World Rugby’s decision to scrap two fixtures well in advance of their respective kick-offs.
F1 remains hopeful that the worst of the typhoon might miss the Suzuka track, situated 250 miles south west of Tokyo. The race will not be staged on Monday if the cars are unable to run on Sunday.
Typhoon Hagibis is being put on par with a category 5 hurricane with 160mph winds expected
‘They are doing the utmost they can,’ said championship leader Hamilton. ‘I am sure they are preparing, are aware that it is coming, and have procedures in place.’
Sebastian Vettel echoed Hamilton’s comments. The four-time world champion said: ‘I don’t think anybody wants to put lives in danger. There is a forecast, but how many times has a forecast changed?
‘We will see what happens as the weekend goes on. It makes sense that when we have more evidence tomorrow night to put together a proposal or an action for qualifying then.’
A statement from the FIA read: ‘Every effort is being made to minimise disruption to the Formula One timetable. However the safety of the fans, competitors and everyone at the Suzuka Circuit remains the top priority. All parties will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates in due course.’
Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel echoed Hamilton’s comments on Thursday
The race in Japan has been hit by bad weather in the past, with qualifying staged on Sunday morning on two occasions, in 2004 and 2010. Four years ago, qualifying for the US Grand Prix was pushed back a day due to heavy rain.
‘I am happy for them to do that,’ added Hamilton, who holds a 73-point championship lead over Mercedes team-mate Valtteri Bottas with 130 available.
‘It is cool when the format changes. You have to enter into two different mindsets, and two different rhythms. It is a different challenge so I like that.
‘It is intense here when it rains, but I love driving in the wet. It doesn’t make a difference to me. It is quite exciting.’