Why F1 should cancel Japanese Grand Prix amid Typhoon Hagibis concern

It can’t come as much of a surprise to see the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend at risk of being affected by a super storm, given this time of year is peak typhoon season on the island.

And it’s not anything new for Formula One to contend with having dealt with typhoons at both the 2004 and 2010 Grands Prix.

On those occasions, qualifying was delayed until the next day and the 2019 edition could follow suit with Typhoon Hagibis expected to be at its worst on the Saturday.

But it’s the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix that organisers and race officials should draw upon when looking seriously at postponing this weekend’s race.

Five years ago this week was when Jules Bianchi fatally lost control of his Marussia under intermittent heavy rainfall.

Just like this year, in the days leading up to the 2014 Grand Prix there were serious threats of Typhoon Phanfone washing out the Suzuka circuit.

But because the Russian Grand Prix was scheduled the following week, they were unable to postpone the race by a day with teams having to move their freight quickly after the weekend.

In that regards, F1 has made amends to the schedule with the Mexican Grand Prix now following the race in Suzuka with a two-week break in between.

However, the 2014 race still saw a deluge of rainfall over the entire weekend and the Suzuka circuit – while being popular among F1 drivers – isn’t best suited to bad weather.

Due to the track’s undulations, rivers can form on the surface of the circuit with aquaplaning being a real danger.

That was initially what led to Bianchi losing control of his car and crashing into the recovery tractor lifting Adrian Sutil’s car.

Suzuka put it down to ‘bad luck’ that Bianchi had aquaplaned at that very corner, but it should never have come to that.

Bianchi later succumbed to his injuries the following year, leaving a gaping hole in the sport and many questions to be answered.

Now Formula One has a chance this weekend to make sure there is not the slightest chance of that repeating itself by putting prime-time TV slots to one side and either postponing it by a day or two or cancelling the event altogether.

Some will argue that wet races in Formula One provide some of the best drama in the sport, with tactics and skill really coming into play.

But if the threat of Typhoon Hagibis – currently equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane – is as serious as being reported, there comes a point where the drivers’ safety should become more important than entertainment.

Whatever happens this weekend, the FIA need to seriously consider moving the Japanese Grand Prix to a different date – and outside of the typhoon season.

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