Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2019

Second practice times could set Suzuka starting grid

2019 Japanese Grand Prix

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The Formula 1 stewards have taken the unprecedented step of announcing the times set in today’s second practice session could decide the grid for Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

The decision has been taken following the postponement of qualifying to Sunday due to the threat of severe weather on Saturday posed by Super Typhoon Hagibis. Saturday’s final hour of practice has also been cancelled for the same reason.

In the revised schedule for the weekend, qualifying is due to conclude three hours and 10 minutes before the race starts. The race start time, 2:10pm, is three hours before sunset at Suzuka, leaving little scope for any further postponement.

Therefore a further delay to qualifying could leave insufficient time to complete the session ahead of the race. With heavy rain forecast throughout Saturday and into Sunday morning, this remains a concern.

This has prompted the stewards to rule that the times set in second practice, which is due to begin in just over an hour, could be used to form a starting grid for the race.

“In view of the inclement weather forecast for the weekend, and noting that the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations are silent on the subject, the stewards have examined methods for establishing a grid for the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix, should weather conditions preclude holding the Qualifying Practice session.

“Should this eventuality come to pass, the Stewards will exercise their authority under Article 11.9.3.b of the International Sporting Code and direct that the grid for the Japanese Grand Prix will be established based on the Second Practice Session Classification, with any penalties applied as necessary.”

There is a precedent for using a partially-completed qualifying session to set the grid. Heavy rain during the 2015 United States Grand Prix weekend meant qualifying was red-flagged before Q3 could be completed, and the grid was formed based on the results of Q1 and Q2.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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8 comments on “Second practice times could set Suzuka starting grid”

  1. Looks like another new format of qualifying is being trialled. The 90-minute-free-qualifying session.

    1. Potentially not the worst idea ever.

      1. Hard to beat the knockout qualifying format. No idea seems quite as bad anymore.

    2. Still a heck of a lot better than reverse grids.

  2. The Skeptic (@)
    11th October 2019, 6:09

    This “maybe” decision is a nice way to spice up FP2!

    That said, what’s wrong with running a wet qualy!? It could mix up the order nicely and allow driver talent to shine above the intrinsic pace of the car. Perhaps Russell could make Q3? Red Bull front row?

    1. It’s a shame I don’t have access to the FP2 session right now. It might be the most interesting FP session we’ve seen in a while.

    2. @theskeptic a wet qualy session isn’t the worry. The problem would be if it’s too wet for qualy and it has to be postponed or cancelled altogether. They are just making sure the rule is clear so the teams know in advance FP2 could be the decider. They’ll all push hard today just in case qualy doesn’t happen.

      Makes sense, really. They are doing the right thing.

  3. love the idea that Mother Nature is forcing F1 to try new things…

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