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. Zindon said on 1st October 2007, 17:29

    I think the safety car should have been used to start the race as a rolling start, then pulled in. Like an American motor race. I’m sure I remember this happening a few times before. It seems like a sensible solution, given the greater likelihood of accidents at the start of any GP.

    I think it was a good call to oull in the safety car, we saw no more incidents than at, say, Montreal, which was dry. I do remember a GP (very faintly, this must have a been a while ago) that was stopped mid-race for very heavy rain, then restarted again. Anyone know which one?

  2. I don’t understand why they didn’t pull in the safety car in earlier because I have seen worse racing conditions than this, Most notably the first race at Fuji and Suzuka 1994. (Is that the one you were thinking of Zindon).

    I think they were right to start under the safety car, but I don’t think they were right keeping it out for 19 laps.

    I have actually race in conditions worse than this on a go-kart with slick tyres and I could keep it on the road. Then again it was a go-kart, but still, slick tyres on a track that was more of a lake.

  3. Scott Joslin said on 1st October 2007, 20:05

    Ha ha – look at all the people complaining, I just don’t understand. We don’t get any overtaking all year, then we get more great overtaking in 1 race than all the other races this year put together. Racing in the rain is hard but it is where the talent shows – take Monaco 84 and Estoril 85 – Both if not worse than Fuji – but races that live in F1 legend. If we are deprived of such events, all we will be left with to talking about is “Ooooo do you remember that great 2 stop strategy driver A had over driver B”. Boring! Perhaps every race should be wet – I am not sure that has ever been a boring Wet race….but I am sure there is someone out there that remembers one

  4. I’m not saying a ‘boring’ wet race, but a wet race which wasn’t particularly memorable was the European GP 2000. Yes there was a three car pile-up but the top four cars were the top two teams; Ferrari and McLaren.

  5. Ben Goldberg said on 2nd October 2007, 1:46

    It was ridiculous to start the race only if for the fact that a quarter of the race was behind the safety car. That was really boring. They should have red flagged it until they could have raced. Why did they have to waste race time?

  6. I didn’t mind the rain since nobody got hurt, but I wonder why the rules are such that they could have the cars parading around with the safety car like that for so long? It’s no different from a red at that point.

  7. I think one thing that has to be taken into account is how well the track drains. Say what you like about Tilke, he does seem to build tracks that drain well.

    There was a gigantic downpour on Istanbul Park during last year’s WTCC event, the track was totally flooded. But once the rain stopped the standing water drained away remarkably quickly.

    (Unfortunately it seems the storm drains he puts in place for precisely that purpose generate their own problems – they have worked loose at Istanbul and the revised Magny-Cours section this year, causing practice sessions to be halted, and Juan Pablo Montoya hit one at Shanghai two years ago, tearing a hole in the bottom of his McLaren and putting him out of the race.)

    Coping with very heavy rain will be a big challenge for the organisers of F1′s new street races at Singapore and Valencia next year. The Adelaide track saw two massive downpours in 1989 and 1991, the latter forcing the stoppage of the race after 14 laps.

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