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Last Updated: Saturday, 9 October, 2004, 08:25 GMT 09:25 UK
F1 misses worst of storm
An empty grandstand at Japan's Suzuka circuit
Suzuka was deserted on Saturday as it braced itself for a typhoon
Fears that Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix could be disrupted by a typhoon have subsided after the storm died out.

The storm forced the cancellation of Saturday's qualifying session, which will now start at 0100 BST on Sunday, the day of the race.

"The storm has passed Suzuka and the race shouldn't be in danger," said the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

Constant heavy rain caused havoc in Friday's practice sessions, in which Michael Schumacher was fastest.

"Initially when we started it was tricky - just on the limit," he said. "At the end it was impossible."

BAR Jenson Button said the decision to postpone qualifying was the right one, given the conditions.

It's the kind of variation that makes things interesting
Pat Symonds
Renault engineering director
"It is silly - a road car would probably be as quick as us in these conditions," he said. "The car is not really designed for this amount of water.

"I've heard that Sunday is going to be a little bit better and it's not going to be raining as much if at all. At least it will get better throughout the day."

The teams and drivers now face a tough time on Sunday as they attempt to perfect their cars' set-ups with virtually no data.

Button said Friday's sessions were all but useless in compiling data on the cars.

Renault's engineering boss Pat Symonds said the upheaval could lead to an exciting, unpredictable race.

"This is just the kind of unexpected challenge that F1 has a habit of throwing at you from time to time, and the kind of variation that makes things interesting," Symonds said.

Michael Schumacher's car has plumes of spray coming off it in Japan
Schumacher splashed his way to the fastest time in Suzuka
World champion Schumacher's quickest lap of one minute 45.388 seconds came in the second session.

Sauber's Giancarlo Fisichella was second quickest in both sessions, the Italian lapping within a second of Schumacher.

Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello was third quickest in the morning while McLaren's Kimi Raikkonen improved from sixth in the first session to third as the rain got heavier and visibility deteriorated.

Several drivers skidded off during the afternoon, Fisichella spinning onto the gravel on the approach to the chicane, with Jordan's Timo Glock and Minardi's Zsolt Baumgartner also losing control.

Japan's Takuma Sato disappointed home fans by stopping after one lap in the morning but bounced back to finish eighth quickest for BAR in the second session.


WATCH AND LISTEN
Report: BBC Sport's Mike Sewell



SEE ALSO
Button hopeful for Japan
04 Oct 04  |  Formula One


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