Honda website
Honda website

OCTOBER 8, 2004

Will the Japanese Grand Prix actually happen?

Formula 1 has a wonderful habit of being totally introspective and not even considering the possibility that the weather in Suzuka might actually become so bad that it is impossible to hold the Japanese Grand Prix. Super Typhoon Number 22 (which has been given the name Ma-on) is expected to hit the Japanese island of Honshu on Saturday morning, according to the latest reports from the Japan Meteorological Agency. Although the storm is expected to lose some of its ferocity before it arrives in the Mie Prefecture, late tomorrow morning, it is expected that the winds will still reach speeds of 80mph. At the moment the storm is creating winds of 110mph at sea to the south of Japan. It is expected that something between 16 to 20 inches of rain will fall in the next 24 hours and the fear in the Suzuka area is that this will result in floods and mudslides. If these hit the Suzuka track, it is possible that the race will have to be called off as the track will not be serviceable. There are also questions about the damage that could be done to equipment as the super typhoon passes through the area and as night fell on Friday teams of workers were doing everything they could to secure everything again the high winds. This could hurt the TV coverage of the race while displays in public areas which are too intricate to take apart in the time available may be torn apart by the weather conditions. It was this worry that led the local authorities to ask for the circuit to be closed on Saturday.

Despite this there are still a lot of people camping in the Suzuka area and the storm will no doubt play havoc with them. The typhoon has become particularly dangerous because it has building up over a warm ocean for almost a week since it began to form. Typhoon Maemi, which hit Japan in July last year, caused considerable damage to islands to the south of Honshu.

It is only 10 days since Typhoon Meari hit Japan, killing 24 people, seven of them in the Mie Prefecture. The rainfall during that typhoon was only 130mm. On Friday it was expected that Typhoon Ma-on would result in rainfall between 500 and 600mm. The authorities are warning of landslides and flooding and hundreds of flights from the local airports will almost certainly be cancelled.

In the circumstances there is a very real possibility that the Japanese GP could be cancelled.