Heavy rain and standing water on the track meant that qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix had to be postponed until race day.
The extreme and uncertain weather patterns of the country mean that for the second time in six years qualifying and the race will take place on the same day.
In 2004 a typhoon was expected to hit the area and the circuit was closed on qualifying day in anticipation. As it turned out the typhoon missed Suzuka by several hundred kilometres. Qualifying took place on Sunday morning with Michael Schumacher taking pole position.
”I feel so sorry for the spectators in the grandstands,” said Kamui Kobayashi. “All the Formula One supporters were very much looking forward to the weekend, and now they have hardly seen a car today and got terribly wet. But safety comes first, that is clear. We cannot drive in these conditions. We have to wait for better weather.”
A track inspection will take place at 9-30am local time with qualifying starting at 10am, if the conditions allow. The forecast isn’t too encouraging; it is given as an 80% chance of heavy rain and thunder. Ironically the front is forecast to move on from the area leaving it dry in the evening.
With parc ferme rules meaning no work on the cars anyway between qualifying and the race, except for any broken components, the notion of qualifying and racing on the same day is not a great drama for teams.
Where it might get interesting if if the conditions stay damp and one of the championship contenders goes off and damages his car in qualifying.
Lewis Hamilton will start five places back from where he qualifies tomorrow after he was forced to take a gearbox change on Saturday,
“In Practice 3 today, we noticed abnormal gearbox oil pressure on Lewis’s car which we believed we had corrected ahead of this afternoon’s qualifying session,” a McLaren statement read.” Sadly they didn’t and he needed a change, which incurs a penalty of five grid positions.
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