Formula 1
Wednesday, Oct 9 02:30pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Super Typhoon Hagibis threatens to derail Japanese Grand Prix

This weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix could be affected by an impending super typhoon approaching the archipelago.

Super Typhoon Hagibis nearly reached Category 5 status this week with winds constantly reaching 240 kph (150 mph) for at least 36 hours.

As of Tuesday, the maximum sustained wind speed near its centre stood at 55 meters per second (198 kph), with maximum wind gust speeds of 75 m/s (270 kph).

It is expected the typhoon will make landfall in Japan by Sunday with Category 2 or Category 1 status. However, there is an element of uncertainty with the projected spread of early computer models providing a large window.

Early indications are that the typhoon will hit Tokyo and nearby Yokohama. The Japanese Grand Prix takes place at Suzuka, 300 km west of the capital.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency reports the typhoon is set to be the strongest to hit Japan this year.

The Japanese Grand Prix has been hit by typhoons in previous years. The most notable in recent times was Typhoon Phanfone, which brought heavy rain to the 2014 edition of the race.

The slippery conditions led to Adrian Sutil crashing at Dunlop Curve late in the race. Jules Bianchi went off the road under yellow flag conditions and collided with a recovery vehicle. The French driver suffered head injuries and was put into an induced coma, which he didn’t recover from. Bianchi died on 17 July 2015.

Typhoons have forced qualifying sessions to be postponed from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning of the Grand Prix.

The Japanese Grand Prix isn’t the only event that could be affected. Organisers of the Rugby World Cup are facing the prospect of cancelling two games this week. If that were to happen the games would be drawn. Both matches could be moved to alternative venues.