Japanese Grand Prix make decision to postpone Saturday's action as fans back 'safety first' call

Formula 1 fans have praised Japanese Grand Prix organisers for making an early call on postponing all track action at Suzuka on Saturday with Typhoon Hagibis posing a major threat.

Mobilityland, owners of the circuit, in conjunction with the Japanese Automobile Federation, made the call at 10am local time, with motorsport's world governing body, the FIA, and Formula 1 fully supporting the decision "in the interests of safety for the spectators, competitors, and everyone at the Suzuka Circuit".

The F1 qualifying session that had been scheduled for Saturday will now take place at 10am on Sunday, with the race as planned at 2.10pm.

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Fans at the track on Friday for the two practice sessions, and other support events, were fully appreciative of the circumstances.

Friends Eamonn O'Neill, 33, and Kurt Jones, 37, backed the decision to cancel Saturday’s action.

Jones said: "It's just good they've made the decision early rather than everybody waiting around and turning up tomorrow just to be sent home, so making the decision today is better for all the fans. It's a good decision because of how dangerous it can be.

"It's definitely better to be safe than sorry, and I wouldn't want to be trapped here and have the typhoon hit. There are too many people to try and take shelter. It would be a nightmare. Winds can be over 150kph. You wouldn't want to be a part of it."

The pair are staying in their car - and will decide whether to return to their home in Osaka later in the evening.

"There was one here a year ago in which cars were blown over," added O'Neill. "My roof was gone, a sliding door was smashed.

"That was the first typhoon I'd experienced, and it was really big, seeing bricks flying through windows and things like that.

"I hope it's not like that but I've heard the west side of the typhoon, which I believe is its weaker side, is going to hit the track."

Friends Jones (L) and O'Neill (R) are staying in car and will decide whether to stay or leave the region at dinner time.
Friends Jones (L) and O'Neill (R) are staying in car and will decide whether to stay or leave the region at dinner time.
David Hazzard, left, will miss out on England's Rugby World Cup clash with France - which was cancelled due to the weather.
David Hazzard, left, will miss out on England's Rugby World Cup clash with France - which was cancelled due to the weather.

David Hazzard, 53, from Jersey, and a trio of friends all had tickets to see England's final group game of the Rugby World Cup against France in Tokyo on Saturday. That game was cancelled on Thursday with weather tracking showing the Japanese capital due to be one of the hardest-hit areas.

Naturally disappointed at missing out on a key game, Hazzard said: "I'm surprised they never thought about moving the date but I guess logistically it is difficult.

"Japan is an amazing country. It's unfortunate this weather system has cropped up on the wrong weekend for us. But then if it had been next weekend it would have affected the knockout games, which wouldn't have been good either."

One upside for Hazzard and his friends is they will likely see qualifying and the grand prix in one day providing there is no further disruption on Sunday morning.

"It was our plan to be here today for practice, then the rugby tomorrow, and back here for the race on Sunday," added Hazzard.

"But like everyone else, we'll now spend tomorrow locked indoors. Safety first, it's the right thing to do.”

Fraser Fleming, 49, and Tiri Connell, 47, both from Wellington, New Zealand, are also enjoying a combined rugby/F1 sports fest with their partners.

With Scottish-born Fleming's wife being part-Tongan and Connell's husband being American, they will be watching Samoa's game with the USA at the Hanazono Rugby Stadium in Higashiosaka on Sunday. That game should be unaffected.

"We knew tomorrow was going to get cancelled because of the weather so we thought we'd come today and make the most of it," said Fleming.

"It doesn't bother me too much I won't be here tomorrow. I'm a Formula 1 fan, and I plan to walk around the esses and the Degner Curves, so I'm happy with that.

"I've been to Monza, which is a temple of Formula 1, and this is another circuit I've always wanted to visit, so even today is really special for me.

New Zealand duo Tiri Connell (far left) and Fraser Fleming (second left) are also here for the rugby and Formula 1 combination
New Zealand duo Tiri Connell (far left) and Fraser Fleming (second left) are also here for the rugby and Formula 1 combination
A fan dressed up at Lewis Hamilton
A fan dressed up at Lewis Hamilton

Connell added: "We have been down on the coast where the weather is expected to be very bad so we decided to get out of there because it could be dangerous.

"We didn't plan to come to the circuit today. We were just going to be here tomorrow but because of the forecast we thought we would come for today, and I'm glad to be here.

"I'm disappointed I'm going to miss qualifying but it is what it is. You can't change the weather."

Keith Cleere, 27, from Wexford, Ireland, and his group of friends have also been following the rugby, as well as taking in the F1.

Cleere said: "We found out about the typhoon in midweek when it started to affect the rugby. We then began to keep an eye on how it could affect things here.

"It's obviously good they've made an early call on cancelling things. I'd rather we be safe and have a proper day of racing on Sunday.

"Even if it had been a late decision on Saturday, and a call made to stop things during the day's running, I doubt we'd have headed in anyway.

"We're staying on the outskirts of Nagoya and it takes us two hours to get in, and we may have had problems getting back."

As for their plans on Saturday, Cleere added: "We've got Ireland against Samoa to look forward to in the evening, which hasn't been cancelled. We'll be watching that on TV."

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