Formula 1 returns to Suzuka this weekend for the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix.
Despite only finishing seventh during last weekend’s Singapore Grand Prix, Max Verstappen could wrap up his second consecutive Drivers’ Championship at a circuit that has seen its fair share of title deciders over the years.
If Verstappen wins while claiming the fastest lap of the race the Dutchman will be crowned the 2022 champion irrespective of where Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc or Red Bull teammate Sergio Perez finish.
However, with the first two practice sessions undertaken in wet conditions, things might be far from straightforward for the Dutchman for a second weekend running.
With Mercedes’ George Russell and Lewis Hamilton topping Free Practice 2, could Sunday’s weather play into their hands?
Saturday, Practice 3 and Qualifying
Saturday should witness a relatively clear and dry FP3 and Qualifying session with the showers from Friday dissipating.
The chance of rain stays stagnant at 10% throughout the day, meaning that the drivers will be able to experience the Suzuka circuit at 100% in dry conditions for the first time in three years.
The day’s temperature will also hit a peak of 24 degrees Celsius meaning that the projected conditions will be warmer than they have been throughout the weekend.
A dry FP3 session saw Verstappen set the fastest time of the session, with the Red Bull driver two-tenths ahead of Ferrari pair Leclerc and Carlos Sainz respectively.
With qualifying set to be run in similar conditions, it appears that the current advantage lies with Red Bull.
With Verstappen claiming pole, the attention now turns to tomorrow’s race, with things set to get far more interesting.
The latest reports indicate that there is a 90% chance that rain will hit the Suzuka race circuit at 14:00 local time meaning that the race is likely to start in wet conditions.
With previous reports indicating that the rain would come toward the race’s conclusion, the advanced timing of the showers is sure to be a concern for the drivers and the teams.
With the race start fast approaching it would be prudent for those in the paddock to anticipate a wet start to the Japanese Grand Prix.