Japanese Grand Prix: Typhoon Hagibis hits as Mercedes eye Formula 1 history

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By Andrew Benson
Chief F1 author at Suzuka
Mercedes and lewis Hamilton have the ability to make Formula 1 history at the typhoon-hit Western Grand Prix.
After the decision to cancel all monitor activities on Saturday because of Typhoon Hagibis, qualifying is defined to be run on Sunday morning at 10:00 local time (02:00 BST), together with the race scheduled at 14:10 (06:10).
Valtteri Bottas that is team-mate along with hamilton could fasten a sixth consecutive drivers and constructors World Championship.
This would violate the record of five straight name doubles set from the Ferrari with Michael Schumacher from 2000-2004.
Hamilton cannot really seal his world drivers championship in Japan, but when results go their way, Mercedes can clinch the constructors title and make sure that no motorist from a different team can win the tournament.
Hamilton, whos 73 points ahead of 107 and Bottas apparent of Charles Leclerc of all Ferrari, should gain five things on his competitors in Japan and at the subsequent race in Mexico in two weeks time to win the tournament.
The tropical storm of this year, typhoon Hagibis, pounded at Suzuka on Saturday and now theres great uncertainty entering raceday.
The area around the track is set to miss the worst of this storm, which weakened in the day leading up to the race which was strongest near the capital Tokyo to the west, in which one person was killed and emergency evacuation orders are issued in some areas around Yokohama.
More than flights have been grounded and the expert help of the renowned Shinkansenbullet train cancelled between Osaka and Tokyo Saturday.
Suzuka, located in Mie Prefecture in the Kansai region on the south shore of Honshu island between Nagoya and Osaka, has been subjected to winds of up to 92kmh (57mph) along with also 134mm of rainfall in 24 hours.
Sunday will likely become dry, even though the powerful winds will last and there are forecasts of gusts of up to 57kmh (35mph).
The question mark above qualifying is the amount of damage that may be done to the track and its facilities and if itll be possible to run cars on Sunday by 10am.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel said after training on Friday:The circuit is going to be a large question mark, the state it will maintain, because there ought to be a few rain and the end also will perform a role, however we cant say [the way ] now.
Teams and organisers have taken raising it in the ground and precautions to attempt and restrict the damage due to the typhoon, including gear.
Theres also the issue of the readiness of the F1 tv broadcast center, which had to be dismantled on Friday since it had been was not strong enough to defy the winds that are predicted. That might need to be rebuilt to picture no easy task.
Officials were also concerned about the probability of debris and how long it will take to clear that up by the group of marshals in the monitor.
If qualifying cant be conducted on Sunday morning because the centers arent ready or conditions arent suitable – the grid to the grand prix is going to be put from the results of Friday clinic, when Bottas and Hamilton ended jelqing and appeared in a league of their own.
Bottas was 0.1 seconds quicker than Hamilton, that was much less pleased with his car set up, although Red Bulls Max Verstappen has been 0.281secs off the pace in third and Leclerc in the speediest Ferrari 0.356secs adrift. Ferraris Vettel and Red Bulls Alexander Albon were fifth and sixth fastest, ahead.
Mercedes benefit looked large on longer runs, so when the teams practice on high fuel loads in preparation to the race.
On all these, Bottas and Hamilton were a second quicker on average in a equal run period than Leclerc. It was not possible since they conducted different tyre programmes, similar to each other, using the Ferrari compared to Red Bull to compare Mercedes to the conducts of Verstappen and Vettel.
Ferraris lack of pace was unexpected since though Hamilton and Mercedes dominated the first portion of the season, together with eight wins for the Briton in the first 12 races, along with the following two for Bottas, the Italian group have shot as the leading force since the sport returned from its summer break.
Since the Grand Prix at the end of August, Ferrari have won three of the four races and might have won every one of them had it not been for a badly timed safety car period in Russia.
Vettel said Ferraris pace in Japan wasnot too bad – maybe not as poor as maybe you believe.
Of course Mercedes, the four-time world champion said:Maybe they did a step forward, maybe the trail suits them. It was OK but we can improve. The conditions will be the biggest challenge.
Mercedes have brought a substantial upgrade using parts round the leading edge of the cars side pods, to Suzuka, and it appears to have made a difference to the car.
Hamilton explained his car asa work in progress, while Bottas said:Felt great from the beginning, really happy with the vehicle in general, nevertheless minor things with the balance to tweak but equally short and long runs felt good. It consistently so much enjoyment this driving these cars and when the car feels great its even more.
It is just practice but that I do still feel that the gains weve made with the car. We can just push on the car. But still Sunday will be shut.
However, their opponents fear that Mercedes might be out of reach.
Verstappen said he believed Mercedes werelooking very strong and Leclerc added:It appears were lacking pace this weekend, and it is a bit of surprise because we were very powerful in the last four races and we all expected to be rather good .
The balance isnt so bad, really. We are just lacking speed. A little bit is in driving as well. I am not driving. But I expect it to be difficult to catch Mercedes in front.
Panorama investigates
Analysis and opinion from the main Formula 1 writer of the BBC.
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