An approaching typhoon is threatening to drive the Japanese grand prix off track. Fernando Alonso's future may be the talk of the Suzuka paddock, but every eye is on the ominous skies above the fabled circuit. "The whole of F1 is watching the weather," Lotus' Romain Grosjean told France's RMC from Japan. "The typhoon (Phanfone) is not far away, and if you believe the current forecast, I think a race at 3pm will be difficult," he added.
Indeed, given the late-afternoon race start time and the fact that F1 needs to be set up in Russia within mere days, a delayed race on Monday is not an option. So in the team managers' meeting at Suzuka, the FIA's Charlie Whiting - reportedly coordinating with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone - discussed the possibility of the race being held on Sunday morning. A combined qualifying-race Saturday is believed also to have been discussed.
At the centre of the talks is Clemens Teutsch, the F1 meteorologist working on site with the specialist weather service UBIMET. He told Germany's Welt newspaper that Suzuka will be "dangerously close" to Phanfone by Sunday. "I think race management will assess the situation also in terms of safety for drivers and the public," said Teutsch.
"The next race in Sochi is just seven days afterwards, so bringing forward the race start (in Japan) would be a possible solution. The rain cannot be completely avoided on Sunday, but it (an earlier start) would at least buy a little more time. But it is not my decision," he insisted. (GMM)