(Suzuka) The F1 will not ride on Saturday at the Suzuka circuit: due to the passage of Typhoon Hagibis, the qualifications of the Grand Prix of Japan are postponed to Sunday 10 am local (Saturday 9 pm Quebec time) and free practice 3 canceled.
This postponement however remains conditioned to the weather on Sunday morning, strong gusts of wind are still expected.
If the qualifications were to be canceled, the classification of the second and final free practice session, dominated on Friday by the Mercedes of Finnish Valtteri Bottas and Briton Lewis Hamilton, would determine the starting grid on the same day at 14:10 (1 h 10 am, Quebec time).
The silver arrows preceded Dutchman Max Verstappen (Red Bull), Monaco's Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), Sebastian Vettel of Germany (Ferrari) and Alexander Albon of Thailand (Red Bull).
The best, behind the big three teams, is the Spaniard Carlos Sainz Jr (McLaren). Mexican Sergio Pérez (Racing Point), France's Pierre Gasly (Toro Rosso) and Briton Lando Norris (McLaren) complete the top 10.
All at the hotel on Saturday
Friday remained to secure the circuit, including garages and equipment of stables and F1, before the arrival of Hagibis Saturday. The paddock will then remain confined to the hotel, as recommended by the authorities.
"We will try to relax and analyze the data for qualifying," Bottas predicts. "I'm sure the team will find something to take care of and take advantage of this extra time to see what we can improve. "
PIerre Gasly (Red Bull) and Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) will also be playing sports, Romain Grosjean (Haas) will ride a model of F1 and several drivers will face a tournament of the football video game FIFA organized by Max Verstappen (Red Bull ).
The decision to cancel Saturday's activities came this morning from the Japan Automobile Federation. "The International Automobile Federation and Formula 1 support this decision in the interest of the safety of spectators, competitors and all on the Suzuka circuit," it added in the statement.
"It's a good decision, safety must be the priority," said Haas team manager Guenther Steiner, summing up the general feeling.
The Japanese race has been disrupted by typhoons several times. In 2004 and 2010, qualifying took place before the race on Sunday. In very bad weather in 2014, the French driver Jules Bianchi was the victim of a serious accident that later caused his death.
Wind Gusts: 21 km / h
The Hagibis pass also caused the cancellation of two Rugby World Cup matches scheduled to be played on Saturday.
Japan's meteorological agency said Friday its "very strong" cyclonic intensity, one step less than the maximum level in which the typhoon was previously ranked.
Gusts of wind up to 216 km / h are expected for Saturday 9 am local time. The Meteorological Agency of Japan expects "brutal winds and a violent sea", as well as record rainfall.
At the time of the 17e 21 race in F1 this season, the mass is almost said in the Championship.
At home, Mercedes is 162 ahead of Ferrari. With 176 units still to be taken after Japan, Silver Arrows can be crowned Sunday if they score 14 points more than their rivals.
Among the drivers, Hamilton has 73 points more than his teammate Bottas, 107 more than Leclerc, 110 more than Verstappen and 128 more than Vettel. With 104 units still in play after Suzuka, the Briton can mathematically eliminate this weekend all his competitors except the Finn, that team orders have already reduced to the rank of adjutant.