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. 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.

  2. 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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