Debate: Too wet to race?

Japanese Grand Prix, Fuji Speedway, 2007 | GEPA / Franz PammerShould the Japanese Grand Prix have been started in heavy rain?

The field lapped the Fuji Speedway for half an hour behind the safety car in pouring rain before the race was finally started.

But some drivers including Nick Heidfeld say it was too wet to race.

When the race finally got going the conditions scarcely seemed any better than when the cars first left the grid.

But crucially there weren’t any deep pools of standing water such as those at the first turn when it rained heavily at the Nurburgring this year.

Should the race go on regardless of how wet it gets? How can the race directors judge when conditions are safe enough?

Photo: GEPA / Franz Pammer

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22 comments on Debate: Too wet to race?

  1. AndyJ said on 1st October 2007, 11:10

    I think if there had been a mass ‘offing’ at any of the corners (like at the European GP), then probably it would have been stopped. As it was, there amazingly wasnt much standing water & all the drivers were driving brilliantly & sensibly (well nearly all, Mr Kubica!). In my view, every decision made, seemed to be ther correct one.

  2. Hamilton fan said on 1st October 2007, 11:23

    no it was fine i dont see why the y cant delay the race start for maybe half hour because in the end they just drove round behind thwe saftey car for half an hour

  3. Rohan said on 1st October 2007, 11:34

    It was absurd to start the race – the fact that Wurz was punted off from behind, with no way of telling who it was shows this.

    The drivers could barely see out of their own cockpits. We were very lucky that no-one was seriously hurt.

  4. It was tough call to make, but it worked out and we had an exciting race … It would have been different story if some of the accidents ended up in injuries … But the drivers proved that it was possible to race and some gave us exciting on track battle in the last corners….

  5. The problem on this occasion wasn’t the water on the ground – it was the water in the air reducing visibility. I still think the race should have been delayed, though given that conditions improved despite the rain, an outright cancellation was not necessary.

    The problem was assessing when exactly visibility was acceptable. I wonder if getting two GP2 cars and using them to check visibility would work in an instance like this.

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 1st October 2007, 11:55

    I had a very similar thought, Alianora. The problem with relying on feedback from the drivers themselves is that some might have a vested interest in cancelling or delaying a race. I think of Sepang in 2001 when the safety car stayed out very long, handing an advantage to those who had switched to intermediates over wet tyres.

  7. I’m sure if Heidfeld or Button had finished on the podium they wouldn’t be moaning about the weather. When the majority of the field make it to the finish it kind of suggests that the conditions were okay for most of the drivers.

  8. Robert McKay said on 1st October 2007, 12:24

    My problem was with the complete arbitrariness of the start. Conditions once the race was under way were not hugely different from the conditions when the SC left the field. And it got worse at the end when it started raining heavily again and there was no SC then. They only got the race underway because of the odd “driver may unlap themselves” rule and so they saw Liuzzi racing round and doing a decent time. And how many laps would the FIA be willing to run behind the SC? 30? 40? The whole race? Where do they draw the line? If the FIA think the SC is going to be out for a while then they should suspend the race properly with the red flag rule. But then the TV schedules would be messed up and we couldn’t have that :-/

    It seems to be much easier to cancel or delay a practice session than a race, which surely says something about the FIA.

  9. Poor Liuzzi was indeed one indicating factor, but didn’t anyone else find it suspicious that the race finished at the same time as the 2h rule? Maybe they saw Liuzzi’s time and calculated that 50 laps x 1min 35 sec roughly equals 1h 20 min, exactly the time that was left after the 40 min safety car round.

  10. Number 38 said on 1st October 2007, 13:56

    That was NOT a race nor was it “exciting” ….. it was a survival test.
    Other points of small interest, why did Ferrari receive the tyre requirment e-mail at 1:37, 7 minutes after the event started?
    Kubica’s drive-thru penalty was UN-justified, there was no maliace involved on a track that wet. Oddly both cars continued with out a change in position. The Luizzi penalty is also suspect and again in that weather can every driver see every flagman on every lap? Use some common sense! Let’s face it folks, Webber and Vettel running 2nd and 3rd……that was NOT a real F1 race.

  11. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 1st October 2007, 14:03

    Jian, given that they would have had to factor in a safety car period and the fact that the track was over five seconds per lap slower at the end of the race than at the start, I reckon it’s just a coincidence!

  12. Journeyer said on 1st October 2007, 15:06

    Number 38, it was indeed a survival test. But you’ve got to admit, there were at least some brilliant moments of racing, like Kimi’s pass round the outside of DC at 100R, or Kubica and Massa’s battle for 6th right at the end.

    And those moments are what make F1 so worthwhile.

  13. Robert McKay said on 1st October 2007, 15:31

    I thought tt was less of a survival test than, say, Nurburgring, because though the Fuji conditions were atrocious they were less changeable than the European GP. And it was less a lottery than, say, Brazil 2003, where it was basically luck if the river running across the roas decided to spit you into the wall.

    I enjoyed it, once the SC peeled off anyway.

  14. Andrea said on 1st October 2007, 16:01

    Grands prix in the rain are always survival tests by definition. Once you accept that races can be run also in the wet, you have to accept this.
    What I don’t like is the abuse of the safety car. 19 laps out of 67 are almost 30% of laps run behind the safety cars. It was getting ridiculous especially considering that the rain conditions at lap 19 were hardly better than lap 1….

  15. Richard C said on 1st October 2007, 17:16

    In my view the season is better for having a combination of dry and wet races, a really wet race sorts out the great drivers. The leading driver has an advantage in vision but has to define the fastest available time for each lap under the conditions. When people think of great drives by great drivers they think of Schmacher or Senna IN THE WET and to this we should perhaps now add Hamilton. If the driver in McLaren No 2 yesterday had been M Schumacher putting in the same performance the eulogising would be long and loud.

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