Typhoon Hagibis: Formula One cancels Suzuka Saturday
Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas during first practice at the Japanese Grand Prix. (Reuters)
Suzuka (Japan) - Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas was quickest on Friday in practice, finishing a tenth of a second ahead of teammate and world championship leader Lewis Hamilton
Formula One team bosses backed the decision of Japanese Grand Prix organisers to cancel all of Saturday's practice and qualifying sessions due to Typhoon Hagibis.
Meanwhile, Valtteri Bottas was quickest on Friday in practice, finishing a tenth of a second ahead of teammate and world championship leader Lewis Hamilton.
The Mercedes pair, benefiting in Japan from an aerodynamic upgrade package to their W10 cars, were comfortably ahead of the third-fastest Red Bull of Max Verstappen in the second session of the condensed racing weekend at Suzuka.
Originally scheduled for 3pm on Saturday (1000 UAE Time), the hour-long qualifying session that decides the grid order for the race will now be held at 10 am (0500 UAE Time) on Sunday, a revised schedule issued by organisers showed.
Final practice, which would normally take place before qualifying, has been scrapped. The race, the 17th of 21 this season, is set to go ahead as planned at 2.10pm (0910 UAE Time) on Sunday at the Suzuka circuit.
"I think it's a shame for the fans but it's a fully respectable decision," said Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto. "Safety is first."
Hagibis, which means 'speed' in the Philippine language Tagalog, is due to make landfall on the main island of Honshu on Saturday.
It has already forced the cancellation of two rugby World Cup matches.
Predicted to be one of the most violent storms to hit the region recently, Hagibis is threatening to batter Tokyo with the heaviest rain and wind seen in 60 years.
Suzuka, located about 300 km to the southwest of the capital, is also expected to be hit hard by the passing storm.
"It makes no sense to ask the spectators to come on track and then to be in a big mess," said Alfa Romeo team boss Frederic Vasseur. "We already thought about this yesterday evening honestly.
"OK, it will change the programme but I think we can afford the weekend with two free practices."
Formula One is no stranger to dealing with inclement weather in Japan.
In 2004 Typhoon Ma-on forced qualifying to be postponed to Sunday while another storm in 2010 similarly delayed qualifying by a day.
The 2014 edition of the race, during which Jules Bianchi suffered ultimately fatal head injuries, was held in the wet with rain from the approaching Typhoon Phanfone drenching the track.