Rain was one of the trends that defined the 2008 championship. Talk of the weather was seldom far from people’s lips this year, especially in the second half of the season.
Time and again we were reminded of how a few drops of rain can transform a Grand Prix from a tedious procession into an edge-of-the-seat thriller.
The Monaco, British and Italian Grands Prix were all run in heavy rain – yes, even Monza, which has scarcely seen a drop of rain in 59 years of Grands Prix. Belgium and Brazil both began and ended with wet conditions, and the French round was briefly livened up by a passing shower.
We saw the best of F1 and the best of F1 drivers when it rained: Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen’s gripping battle over the closing laps at Spa; Rubens Barrichello’s unlikely charge to third at Silverstone, Sebastian Vettel’s pole position and win at Monza, Timo Glock’s ballsy run to the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix on dry weather tyres that almost cost Hamilton the title.
People are already calling this season one of the best. If that’s true, then surely a big part of that was the rain – especially its mischievous sense of timing in Brazil.
Has any other season seen as many wet races as this? I can’t think of many that had more than four. In 1993 the first four races were all hit by rain (South Africa, Brazil, Europe (Donington) and San Marino), plus the Japanese round, making five. But six or more is extremely unusual.
Rain was even a story at one place where it didn’t turn up – Singapore. The prospect of racing in the wet at night is still a concern for future Singapore Grands Prix.
Inevitably discussion turned to which F1 drivers are the best in the wet, and Lewis Hamilton came on top in a poll ahead of Robert Kubica and Fernando Alonso.
Ferrari might have preferred less rain as the team seemed to struggle to adapt its F2008 to wet conditions. It didn’t stop them winning the constructors’ championship, however.
But I expect most would agree that rain helped make 2008 a memorable season and gave us some of the best races this year. It’s one of the ways in which we may never see a season quite like 2008 for a long time.
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