SUZUKA (Reuters) - A typhoon off the coast of Japan could threaten the Japanese Formula One Grand Prix scheduled to take place at the Suzuka circuit this Sunday, the sport’s official weather forecaster warned on Thursday.
Typhoon Phanfone, classed a category four storm, is lurking south of Japan over the Western Pacific ocean on Thursday, forecaster UBIMET said, but was forecast to move north-west on Friday, packing maximum average winds of up to 240 kilometers per hour.
Although the storm is expected to pass south of Suzuka on Sunday day, rain from the typhoon’s northern edge could drench the circuit, steadily increasing in intensity, on the morning of the race which is scheduled to start at 1500 local time.
“There are still big uncertainties for the storm track in the coming days,” UBIMET said in a statement.
“The current forecast track for typhoon Phanfone keeps the eye of the storm to the southeast of Japan on Sunday but with associated rainbands extending north toward Suzuka during the morning.
“Once it starts the rain is likely to be prolonged and become increasingly heavy.
“At this time, nothing too severe is expectedt before Monday,” the agency said.
Suzuka has experienced extreme weather in the past.
Saturday qualifying was postponed to Sunday morning in 2004 and 2010 because of excessive rain, with team mechanics famously racing paper boats down the pit-lane in the latter edition of the event.
At the moment it is unclear if the race will be brought forward.
But it is unlikely to be delayed if it cannot be held on Sunday as there is just a week’s gap to the maiden Russian Grand Prix in Sochi which is the next race on the calendar.