Japanese Grand Prix red flagged amid appalling conditions at Suzuka

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    The Japanese Grand Prix has been red-flagged following multiple incidents on the first lap at a soaked Suzuka.

    One of the drivers to crash out was Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who spun and slammed into the barriers after losing it at the normally flat-out right-hander before the Spoon curve. Sainz was fourth at the time after losing a place to Red Bull's Sergio Perez at the start.

    AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly, who started from the pitlane, was involved in a bizarre incident which saw him collect what appeared to be an advertising board, which got stuck under his car. It appears the board had been dislodged by Sainz's crash.

    READ MORE: Max Verstappen keeps Japanese GP pole after accusing Lando Norris of 'creating problem'

    At the time of the stoppage, world champion-elect Max Verstappen led the way from Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari actually got a better getaway than the Red Bull, but Verstappen hung it out around the outside at turn one to retake the lead. Next came Perez, Esteban Ocon, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and George Russell.

    There were fears the conditions may not improve. While some reports said the rain would abate after a few minutes, others were more pessimistic. Hamilton's engineer Pete Bonnington told his driver over team radio that the forecast was looking grim.

    However, with the rain easing, officials announced the race would restart at 6.50am UK time. In the interests of safety, it will be a rolling start behind the safety car rather than a standing start.

    Given the conditions, there is a danger the race may not run its full distance which could rule out Verstappen clinching his second successive world title with four races to spare.


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