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Suzuka awaits the storm 08 Oct 2004

Takuma Sato (JPN) BAR waves to his fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, 7 October 2004 Michael Schumacher (GER) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, 7 October 2004 Jacques Villeneuve (CDN) Renault.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, 7 October 2004 Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota.
Formula One World Championship, Rd17, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, 7 October 2004

All the talk in the paddock here in Japan is about the typhoon that is heading straight for this part of the Pacific Rim. The weather is already at its least hospitable this morning, prompting concern from the drivers about track conditions.

“I think it all depends on the typhoons, which way they go,” said local hero Takuma Sato yesterday. “If they hit Japan then there will be lots of rain. We experienced a few weeks ago a big typhoon and all of Turn One and Turn Two was flooded. We don’t want to see that, because if that happens we have to stop the race completely and that would be sad. But if it is just normal rain, we should be able to have a good race here because we had a few years here when there have been wet races but it was always very exciting. There are none of the dangerous places, as far as I remember, at this circuit in the wet.”

Damon Hill scored his greatest triumph here in the wet in 1994, beating Michael Schumacher.

Mark Webber made the point that aquaplaning and visibility are the main worries in such conditions. “Normally the spray is a big problem for the drivers, and like Takuma said, if it rains very, very heavily it is the same at every track, the aquaplaning level is the thing that stops us from running, and then the visibility is the next thing, so when we are running as a group it should be okay. It’s tricky for all of us, but yeah, it should be okay.”

Jenson Button disagreed. “I think on any circuit you are a little bit more nervous racing if it is wet because you can’t see twenty metres, even five metres in front of the car because there is so much spray if you are in traffic. Wherever, it’s pretty scary and I don’t think this is any different. I do enjoy driving in the wet, just not when you’re in the middle of a pack. I think we had a good race in Monza - I know it wasn’t wet but it was damp and the car seemed to work very well. So I think we will be quick here if it is wet but again, for the drivers in the race, it’s not a nice situation if it rains.”

This weekend marks celebrations for Honda’s fortieth season since it first entered Formula One, with the car raced by Ronnie Bucknum at Nurburgring in 1964. Nothing would be more fitting than for Button - or Sato - to score their and BAR Honda’s maiden victory on the Japanese engine manufacturer’s home track.