Japanese Grand Prix under threat as Typhoon Phanfone approaches

Published Add your comment

Football News

As teams prepare for this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, Mother Nature could be set to interrupt proceedings at Suzuka.

Weather forecasters are closely watching a developing tropical storm in the Pacific as Typhoon Phanfone potentially makes its way for a direct hit on the country on Sunday.

Related articles

- Nico Rosberg set for crucial weekend in Japan
- Suzuka remains the premier Asian F1 venue
- Dutch teen set to make history on Friday


Rain at the Japanese race is nothing new, indeed most will remember the 2007 edition as F1 returned to Fuji Speedway and raced in the same conditions it had when the sport last visited 30 years prior. Suzuka too has seen its fair share of wet races over the years.

Indeed in 2004 another Typhoon hit on the Saturday causing the cancellation of qualifying which would then take place on the Sunday morning.

Currently there is uncertainty over whether the storm will make a direct hit or curve south of Japan, however, what is almost guaranteed is a first rain-hit race in almost two years.

The last race to take place in properly wet conditions was the Brazilian Grand Prix in 2012 as Sebastian Vettel recovered from an opening lap spin to claim his third world championship beating Fernando Alonso.

F1's weather problem

While the races have been dry, the same can not always be said for practice and qualifying. Indeed this year alone five of the 14 qualifying sessions have taken place in wet conditions.

The issue the sport has when it comes to when the skies are not blue is where is the limit between wet and OK and wet and dangerous.

Several races and qualifying sessions have been halted because a circuit has been deemed too wet to drive on, however, on some occasions the level of caution by the race director Charlie Whiting has been too extreme.

Wet tyres

Tyre supplier Pirelli always provide two wet weather compounds; the green marked intermediates and the green marked full or extreme wets.

The intermediate tyres are the most commonly used when the circuit is too wet for slicks, they have a tread like all road tyres, however, are designed to only cope with a generally damp track with no standing water.

They also have a much larger window of operation from nearly dry to quite heavy rain conditions.

The full or extreme wets have a deeper tread and are almost identical to most common road tyres in terms of appearance.

These are designed for a very wet track and can cope with standing water, indeed so effective are they that 60 litres of water per second is thrown back up towards the sky.

When is too wet, too wet?

In recent times, the use of the full wet tyres has been interesting because, certainly in race situations, it has only been used when there is increasing rain during a race.

There have been occasions, Malaysia 2012 springing to mind, where a race has been halted or the safety car deployed when the use of the full wet tyres would have allowed the race to continue.

The big issue has always been aquaplaning, when the water on the track is deep enough that the tread cannot reach the tarmac and the cars float along the circuit.

Those who have watched Formula 1 long enough will remember how a monsoonal downpour caused chaos at the 2007 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring and almost all the drivers slid out of control into the gravel trap at turn one.

Indeed something similar happened at the WEC race in Austin just over a week ago.

It is this scenario, when it is clear a portion of the track is undriveable that a race should be halted.

See Also:

- Why F1 must stop comparing itself to past eras
- New Ferrari chairman admits Alonso future uncertain

Land of the descending sun

Bringing it back to the possible events at Suzuka this weekend, should the Typhoon affect the race in any way, the cautious approach could lead to other problems.

After the marathon 2011 Canadian Grand Prix, where a rainstorm halted proceedings for two hours, a limit of four hours was imposed for as to how long the two-hour limit of racing has to be completed in.

However, because of the attempts to be as friendly to the mass European audience as possible, there is only two and a half hours of daylight between the race start at 3pm Japanese time and sunset.

Therefore if the race is delayed for too long it is likely to get dark ala Malaysia 2009 and we could have the scenario of only half points being awarded again ala Malaysia '09.


The implications of that could be huge for the championship battle between the two Mercedes' and I'll include Daniel Ricciardo.

Not only does any kind of wet race throw the guidebook out of the window it also increases the chance of something potentially championship defining to occur.

For Ricciardo this could either work against or for him as the Red Bull has been a match for the Silver Arrows when the power advantage has been negated, however, a half points race would dent his chances of catching up the Mercedes should they falter in the final four races.

With all the plots and sub-plots going into this weekend's race already highly anticipated, the lottery of a wet race would spice it up even more, lets just hope, however, that should it rain it actually doesn't spoil what will be a fascinating weekend in Japan.


Read more

Report author of article

Please let us know if you believe this article is in violation of our editorial policy, please only report articles for one of the following reasons.

Report author


This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

Want more content like this?

Like our GiveMeSport Facebook Page and you will get this directly to you.

Already Subscribed to Facebook, don't ask me again

Follow GiveMeSport on Twitter and you will get this directly to you.

Already Following, don't ask me again