Robert Kubica might not make the start of the Japanese Grand Prix after crashing heavily in the opening minutes of qualifying on Sunday morning.
Typhoon Hagibis stuck Japan on Saturday, with Formula 1 opting to cancel all track action a day earlier in order to prepare for the high winds and heavy rain. That saw qualifying moved to Sunday morning as part of a condensed schedule, with the teams having just two and a half hours between the end of qualifying and the pit lane opening for the race.
Just two minutes into Q1, Kubica crashed out of the final corner, running wide onto the grass and hitting the barrier on the outside fo the track at high speed. The whole left hand side of the car was heavily damaged and the session red flagged for eight minutes while the barrier was repaired and the car recovered.
The incident leaves Williams with a race against time as it has around three and a half hours to to try and repair the car before the pit lane closes, although if any replacement parts are required that are of a different specification to those Kubica started qualifying with he’ll need to start from the pit lane.
The team was at least able to start work quickly, with Kubica having stopped on the pit straight the car was opposite the Williams garage and returned immediately rather than having to wait for the end of the session.
A strong tailwind out of the final corner was proving extremely tricky for the drivers as Kevin Magnussen also crashed, swapping ends out of the corner and hitting the barrier backwards. The Dane managed to keep his engine running and limp back to the pits with broken rear and front wings, and although he didn’t run again in Q1 and was eliminated as a result, the damage looks repairable in time for the race.
Despite the two crashes causing red flags, the race is still scheduled to start at 2:10 p.m. local time.