• Japanese Grand Prix

Heavy rain threatens Suzuka qualifying

Laurence Edmondson October 8, 2010 « Vitaly Petrov boosted by new sponsor | »
Heavy rain led to the postponement of qualifying in 2004 © Sutton Images
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Although Friday's practice sessions were dry, a poor forecast for Saturday threatens to affect the final session as well as qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix.

An incredible 50mm - or more - of rain is forecast to hit Suzuka which, if the prediction is accurate, could be enough to force qualifying to be postponed until Sunday morning. This last happened in Japan in 2004.

"The teams believe there is a tropical rainstorm heading for Suzuka, which could seriously disrupt qualifying," saids the BBC's Jonathan Legard. "Weather has always been an obsession for F1 teams and Ferrari and McLaren will remember this year's Malaysian Grand Prix when Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa failed to progress from first qualifying when they were caught out by the conditions."

Not everyone is upset by the prospect. "Rain coming in overnight, and massive rain tomorrow ... all day," tweeted Lotus. "We love a wet quali so bring it on."

The forecast for Sunday is better, although early rain on race day could mean the grand prix is started on a drying track.

As was predicted, the Red Bulls looked dominant in the dry, but the RB6 has been less impressive in 2010 in the rain. "The weather looks a bit strange on Saturday and that might not be that beneficial to us," admitted Mark Webber, who along with team-mate Sebastian Vettel were half a second clear of the field in first practice.