Should the Korean Grand Prix have started sooner?

The Korean Grand Prix got off to a late start after heavy rain – and drivers were divided over how soon the race should have got underway.

After three laps behind the safety car the race start was suspended and the cars sat on the grid for half an hour as they waited for the rain to ease.

They spent another 14 laps behind the safety car before the green flag was finally waved.

By the time the race had begun they had spent almost as long behind the safety car as they had at Fuji in 2007, where 19 laps were spent in safety car conditions.

But some drivers felt the conditions were adequate to go racing in. Not least of which Lewis Hamilton, who was on the grid at Fuji three years ago and said the conditions were no worse than what they had a previous races:

The track is fine, the visibility is good. I have three cars in front of me and I can see.
Lewis Hamilton

While Hamilton was keen to see the race start – and maximise his championship advantage – Mark Webber was urging the organisers not to start the race.

Robert Kubica, who potentially had less of a vested interested, also said the conditions were too dangerous.

It is likely that because the track was laid only recently, water was not draining very well through the tarmac. Jenson Button added another reason for the visibility problems:

Because of the way the track is with the walls and the stands the water isn’t going anywhere.
Jenson Button

Do you think the race should have started sooner? Should race control pay attention to what drivers who have a vested interest in the result have to say about the conditions? Have your say before.

Should the race have started sooner?

  • Yes, it should have started sooner (79%)
  • No, it started at the right time (19%)
  • No, it should have started later (1%)
  • No, it should have been abandoned (1%)

Total Voters: 2,286

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131 comments on Should the Korean Grand Prix have started sooner?

  1. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 24th October 2010, 11:17

    Yes, it should have started sooner. I instantly though of Japan 2007 when half the problem with the spray was the fact that the cars were bunched up behind the safety car. As soon as the cars were released and started filing out, the problem was solved.

    But I was very unimpressed at the way championship politics attempted to influence the race. If the drivers were really that concerned that the conditions were dangerous, they should have done what Alain Prost did and parked it.

    • sabatino said on 24th October 2010, 11:51

      Also in my opinion spray was caused by the SC . Infact after 4-5 laps drivers had problem with the full wet tyres . I think that rain could be a problem also in Brazil .

      • sabatino said on 24th October 2010, 12:07

        I say that rain could be a problem also in Brazil because at least until next sunday there is a big probability of storms !

  2. I think that part of the problem today was the safety car. It is just too slow. As a consequence:
    a) the drivers can’t warm up their tyres properly while behind the SC.
    b) when it rains, the racing line takes too much time to dry off.

    Why not try to use a formula one car (say a 2008 car, or any open-wheel car with decent speed) as a SC?

    • I too think the Safety Car is far too slow. When its deployment leads drivers to actually have to work harder (keeping temps up), I think there is a problem.

      Trouble is, the SC’s main purpose is to slow the cars down so that the marshalls can do their job. Making it faster would kind of defeat that purpose.

      In my mind, the real problem lies with the cars and their excessive sensitivity to low speed conditions. Stuff like active suspension could help reduce that problem.

      • @ Pedro Candeias
        I think that is one of the most powerful road car out there with all the latest safety features but agree that car seems to be slow may be Bernd Mayländer don’t wanted to spin it as he did in the practice session.

        @ Manu
        Bringing an F1 won’t help the situation as it have almost the same technical specification as a modern day F1 car have.

    • You can’t use an open wheel car as the safety car. If that happened, then the safety car would struggle as much (possibly even more) as the F1 cars in wet conditions, which shouldn’t happen.

      Also the FIA can’t be messing around trying to look after the safety car in the same way teams look after their F1 cars. It is much easier to have a road car as the safety car, and there is nothing wrong with the current speed of the safety car.

  3. Yes they were late, they should have started the race on lap 10-12. They are some of the best 24 drivers out there we pay to watch them fight for position in difficult condition, it was better then they had race before.I don’t know why Mark was complaining Japan 07 & Italy 08 were more worst then this.

  4. Good grief. People actually voted for the race to be abandoned?!

  5. Calum said on 24th October 2010, 11:31

    All things considered, it was the perfect time to start, they were mostly reasonably happy to go, a safety ca start is nothing new, the conditions provided drama, overtakes, crashes, cars out of position and general all round drama, and it was perfectly timed to provide a challanflging climax in darkening conditions. I guess the drivers who wanted the start pushed back couldn’t complain about the dark, it was them who forced it to that ;)

  6. Yes it should have started sooner. Every time I heard a driver say “it’s too dangerous” I thought “what a wuss”. Formula One drivers are meant to be brave, and I saw very few examples of bravery during the safety car.

  7. Adrian said on 24th October 2010, 11:31

    I voted that it should have started sooner, maybe only a few laps sooner, but still.

    I would also like to take credit for them getting underway when they did as I left the room briefly right when they did start the race…

  8. With the situation today, I say that the officials made the right decision regarding pushing back the race start. However, having said that it would seem that there is a recurring problem with wet weather, and that is spray from leading cars and the resulting low visibility, rather than lack of grip on the wet tyres. This leads me to think that F1 as a whole needs to address the spray issue, to prevent the same problems from occurring in future. I see two potential solution, the first is improve track drainage; from TV the amount of ponding I my mind was unacceptable. In theory a race track should drain fairly well; the rain should runoff the pavement and straight onto the verge, meaning no ponding on the track. Maybe there is scope for the FIA to revise track design regulations, to ensure that circuits drain better. The second solution is change the car design rules to enforce that when cars have wet tyres on that a wheel arch, or mud flap style device needs to be installed on the car to reduce the amount of spray coming from the rear. Yes it will affect aerodynamics, but it will ensure that the race can run on time, and under green flag conditions, and surely that’s what is best for the sport.

    • Adrian said on 25th October 2010, 11:48

      You’re fogetting though that a lot of water is thrown up as spray by the aerodynamics…particularly the diffusers so limiting the amount from the tyres would only be part of the solution…

  9. xabregas said on 24th October 2010, 11:34

    I voted yes but i think if they would had started at the right time would have been better.
    This F1 drivers aren´t really like they used to be, I can remenber a few races that started with poor conditions and ended really good.
    This circuits have the best safety conditions, as the F1 cars so don´t understand why they were complaining. If some driver can´t go 200km/h then go 150 or don´t go at all.
    This drivers can´t never be compared to the older ones they´re to scared.
    It´s in extreme conditions that we see you are the best.
    A few years ago Alain Prost said that the F1 drivers are only professionals including him but now it´s even worse.
    Of course what happened in qualifying at Japan was the right call.
    One more thing, points shouldn´t be given if the race would had only 20 laps all of them beynde the safety car and also the race should be postpone to the following day.

  10. Randy said on 24th October 2010, 11:34

    Should have started much sooner. F1 needs to revise the safety car rules for wet race starts. 24 cars at 10m per car = 240m on a track over 5000m long. Of course visibility is going to be poor when your running 24 cars line astern.

    Allow the cars to spread over the whole course so they have a better idea about visibility and can move some water of the circuit without worrying about rear ending the car in front. Then call for the cars to close up into start formation a lap or two before going green.

    The delays today seemed more about certain teams and drivers protecting their championship hopes than about safety issues.

  11. Now that vettel has used all his engines. Does he get a 10 places penalty in Brasil?

    • xabregas said on 24th October 2010, 11:39

      Don´t think so, still have some used ones for sure like Alonso

    • chemakal said on 24th October 2010, 11:43

      he will have to use an old engine to avoid penalty. So is doing Alonso in the last 4 or 5 races..

      I can’t understand how could Vettel blow up his engine?? No high temperatures, engine set up for rain, low rpms… and it exploded at the bottom!

      • Maybe Vettel is like the new Johnny Herbert; Super Unlucky. To be honest, he was driving his car aggressive from the first flying lap and to the limit every lap.

        • chemakal said on 24th October 2010, 17:41

          still the wet engine config. doesn’t push the engine to the limit. I’d understand a driving mistake being so agressive, but it really seems very strange to me that failure. No strange conspirancies behind these words… just RBRs reliability is a ???

    • He still have some good engine which are healthy & have done less mileage on them.

  12. Funkyf1 said on 24th October 2010, 11:49

    Yes maybe it could of been started a few laps earlier and maybe Pirelli could work on a alternative/better wet tyre for next year, so there is less debate like in the last 2 races. Maybe would could have a support group where Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May drive round in production cars with really wide tyres clearing water from the track or Eddie Jordan in a truck with a squeegee? All possibilities. I think the organizers, the race directors, teams and drivers all deserve credit for making such a spectacle happen. Great track, great race and as this season has produced another unpredictable result. Can wait till they return to Korea next year.

  13. Started at the right time i feel.

    However, as my work shedules have been crazy this weekend, i had to put the race on my Sky+ (delaying the live feed for me to watch it so i can get some decent sleep) and with the race switching to BBC2 i lost the last half hour or so of the race and will now have to find a download so i can watch it tomorrow.

  14. Damon said on 24th October 2010, 11:52

    The race should have been started much earlier, with the option not to race like alain Prost. I doubt webber would have said its too dangerous then lol

  15. Jason said on 24th October 2010, 11:59

    The track was almost in INTERMEDIATE territory when the race was started. Wet tyres are for wet conditions…
    Maybe they were protecting some teams who aren’t quit comfortable in the wet.

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