Raikkonen Quickest Michelin Runner at Rain-Lashed Suzuka Torrential rain effectively washed out most of the opening day at the Japanese Grand Prix - and conditions could yet get worse. Forecasters predict that the rain is unlikely to ease up ...
Raikkonen Quickest Michelin Runner at Rain-Lashed Suzuka
Torrential rain effectively washed out most of the opening day at the Japanese Grand Prix - and conditions could yet get worse. Forecasters predict that the rain is unlikely to ease up before Saturday evening and it is possible that typhoon conditions could hit the Suzuka region within the next 24 hours. Drivers completed relatively few laps in the deluge - it took 37 minutes for a time to be posted in the morning and the track remained virtually empty as the downpour intensified during the second half of the afternoon session. Kimi Raikkonen (Team McLaren Mercedes, third) emerged as fastest of the Michelin runners during the limited number of laps that were possible. The Finn's team-mate David Coulthard was fifth fastest, while local favourite Takuma Sato (B*A*R-Honda/Michelin), Anthony Davidson (B*A*R-Honda/Michelin) and Jacques Villeneuve (Renault/Michelin) were also in the top 10.
Pascal Vasselon , Michelin F1 programme manager
"We have obviously done relatively little running today, not least because Suzuka poses a few particular problems in heavy rain. The circuit features a number of elevation changes and, as a result, a number of mini-rivers form at various points around the track. The biggest problem is not so much generating grip as trying to prevent cars from aquaplaning. We have seen a number of drivers sliding off the track today, although Fernando Alonso was the only Michelin runner affected - and then only in a minor way.
"Teams usually select their race compounds on a Friday evening, but on account of the conditions they have been given until Saturday lunchtime to finalise their choice. If the weather continues to deteriorate, which seems likely, tomorrow's qualifying session might have to be scrapped. That would create an unprecedented situation. It remains to be seen what will happen, but if cars are unable to run in dry conditions until Sunday, we will advise our teams to plump for the tyre compound that offers the broadest operational spectrum. That would be the logical approach to take."