What If Qualifying Is Cancelled On Sunday At Suzuka?
As I am sure you have heard by now, the FIA have decided to postpone the qualifying for the Japanese Grand Prix until Monday morning at 10:00 local time, or 02:00 GMT - ouch if you want to watch it live in the UK.
This was a much expected move as Typhoon Hagabis is making landfall in Japan as we speak, delaying two Rugby World Cup matches along with Saturday of the F1 weekend.
However, as a what if, what if qualifying get's cancelled completely? This hasn't happened for decades, but in a very certain circumstance, the race may go ahead but due to conditions the qualifying may not. What would happen?
Of course the FIA have rules in place if this occurs, however there is some flexibility if there is a unanimous consensus amongst the teams. So here are the three options the FIA would have if they wanted the race to go ahead but no with no qualifying taking place.
THE GRID IS DETERMINED BY CAR NUMBER
This is the official law in the FIA F1 handbook. It's strange I know, and let's just say that Lewis Hamilton would be wishing that he took the No.1 number reserved for the world champion rather than his No.44, as it would be the difference of fourteen spots on the grid. This is what it would look like if the grid is decided by car numbers:
1. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault (#3)
2. Lando Norris, McLaren (#4)
3. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari (#5)
4. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo (#7)
5. Romain Grosjean, Haas (#8)
6. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso (#10)
7. Sergio Perez, Racing Point (#11)
8. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari (#16)
9. Lance Stroll, Racing Point (#18)
10. Kevin Magnussen, Haas (#20)
11. Alexander Albon, Red Bull (#23)
12. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso (#26)
13. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault (#27)
14. Max Verstappen, Red Bull (#33)
15. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes (#44)
16. Carlos Sainz, McLaren (#55)
17. George Russell, Williams (#63)
18. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes (#77)
19. Robert Kubica, Williams (#88)
20. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo (#99)
As you can see, out of all the frontrunners, Sebastian Vettel would be sitting pretty in third place, with Daniel Ricciardo taking a pole position for Renault alongside Lando Norris of McLaren. Out of the big three, Ferrari would be clearly positioned the best with their drivers in the third and eighth grid slots, whilst Red Bull would be in the middle with eleventh and fourteenth, whilst Mercedes would have one of their worst ever qualifying sessions with fifteenth and eighteenth. Now that would shake things up.
GRID ORDER DECIDED BY FP2 STANDINGS
1. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes
2. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes
3. Max Verstappen, Red Bull
4. Charles Leclerc, Ferrari
5. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari
6. Alexander Albon, Red Bull
7. Carlos Sainz, McLaren
8. Sergio Perez, Racing Point
9. Pierre Gasly, Toro Rosso
10. Lando Norris, McLaren
11. Kimi Raikkonen, Alfa Romeo
12. Daniil Kvyat, Toro Rosso
13. Romain Grosjean, Haas
14. Lance Stroll, Racing Point
15. Antonio Giovinazzi, Alfa Romeo
16. Kevin Magnussen, Haas
17. Daniel Ricciardo, Renault
18. Nico Hulkenberg, Renault
19. Robert Kubica, Williams
As you can see, if the grid was set by the FP2 standings it would give a more reasonable picture of what qualifying would have looked like, with the Mercedes and Red Bull duo being much higher than where they would be if the grid was determined by car numbers, whilst drivers like Kimi Raikkonen, Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris would be worse off.
THE RACE COULD BE PUSHED BACK TO MONDAY
We don't want the Japanese Grand Prix to get cancelled. It is one of the best circuits on the calendar - granted, it isn't the best for overtaking. However if the conditions on Sunday are just as bad as they are today, then there is the possibility that instead of cancelling the race, the FIA would be able to push the race, and who knows, maybe even qualifying, back to Monday.
The good news is that on Monday there is a national holiday in Japan, which theoretically would mean that attendance figures would not be distorted as they would be if it was run on a normal Sunday.
What do you think? This is all theoretical and is unlikely to happen, but if the conditions are just as treacherous, what would you do if you were the FIA? Please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.