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. Steezy said on 24th October 2010, 19:23

    I hope the media slates F1 for its pathetic showing today (although the race was eventually quite good)

    It was an embarrassment that the sport should hope to avoid. This would have not happened just a few years ago, let alone during the 80′s or whatever.

    It’s getting worse and worse.

  2. L Hamilton, the only true racer, was spot on in calling it a go. These drivers are becoming a bit of pain with all the safety excuses.
    I have been watching F1 for many years and the Korea circuit was just fine.
    The condition were more hazardous at the end with darkness descending than the initial rain.
    I am excited… no! I AM A FANATIC, about this championship aren’t we all?

    • Baracca said on 25th October 2010, 13:41

      Well, if L Hamilton is the only true racer, maybe they should make a championship just for himself.

      Personally I consider Robert Kubica as much of a true racer as anyone, and he wasn’t happy with starting the race. I value his opinion a lot more than the RBR’s or Hamilton’s, as he had no obvious bias.

      Had the situation arisen a few GP’s back when Hamilton was on top, would he have said the same?. Maybe, but I’m not sure.

  3. We have all seen wet races before. However rightly or wrongly we are in a more safety conscious era, where promoters may be under different health and safety guidelines. Firstly new tracks particularly must have better drainage. 

    It is going to continue to rain in the future, and as f1 travels east we may well get more and more seriously wet races. If we want to see racing in the wet then we have to move away from regulations that depend so heavily on aerodynamic grip that only kicks in at high speed, and create so much spray. Some suggestions were made by a couple of people earlier. How about a regulation which allows charlie to declare a race as ‘extreme wet’ where:
    - mud flaps of some nature have to be fitted
    - extra weights are added to improve downforce?!
    - super wet tyres are used
    - teams are allowed to adjust wing setup etc

    I’m not an engineer so some of the above maybe nonsense, but it crazy and embarrassing that the worlds fastest sport can’t cope with rain. All that cash and technology and yet you might be quicker in a 10 year old Audi tt or similar.

    • RobR (@robr) said on 24th October 2010, 22:26

      If they don’t bring in some sort of super wet tyre for next year, that will be a total farce. That at least should be the minimal response, after the happenings at Suzuka. That still may not be enough, however, because of the dependence on aerodynamic grip, as you said, and the answer in that case must be to bring more of a balance of mechanical grip to these cars. Bigger rear tyres and wider cars seem a sensible solution to that problem.

      However, changing the regulations takes time. The carmakers have already designed their cars for 2011… and possibly are working on the 2012 cars already… the FIA needs to get its finger out and do something about it quickly.

      I fear that in some ways Bernie is too old and phlegmatic to do anything about this. From observing him for years, I think I know how his mind works, and think in his mind he thinks “Sure, it looked like the race was going to be cancelled for a while, but we got one in the end… so we’re okay” That’s not good enough. Two grand prix in a row now, we have tuned in at early hours, only to be greeted with delays, and no on-track action.

      If the future of the sport is, as Bernie says, in Asia, where it is often very wet, it’s going to be a severely stunted future because of European computer engineers who refuse to compromise, and continue to design F1 cars in a self-indulgent, virtual reality fantasy world where it never rains. Bernie should really think about that, and start thinking about doing something to make them compromise.

  4. Bruno BaKano said on 24th October 2010, 23:19

    I haven’t seen other comments but I have no doubt that the race should have started sooner. Or better said, the 14 laps behind the SC was way too much and it almost looked like a stupidty.
    For me there’s no better proof of that than after only 2 laps after the SC cleared, drivers were pitting for intermediates.

    There’s no way the track was “too dangerous” on lap 17 and then good for intermediates on lap 19.

    I was amazed at listen to radio transmissions from some pilots just prior to the information that the SC was coming in, saying the conditions were the same as the start! Even looking in a online stream it was clear that the visibility was way better and also the cars were driven faster and much closer to each other. It was also very clear the Vettel was right behind Maylander’s Mercedes.
    There was ony one reason for the cars to be going quicker, and closer to each other – the conditions were better.

    I would sya the decision to stop the race after 3 laps, and wait some minutes was good, but 14 laps behind the SC was just ridiculous!

  5. I think that it started just in the correct moment, since after the race was finished just 5 minutes later the sun went down, so the timing was perfect.

  6. Norman Bates said on 25th October 2010, 1:38

    IMO, the race should have started as normal – so what if it rains? It’s part of the sport and that’s why drivers are highly paid because of the risks involved. If they’re too chicken to drive, either slow down and get out of the way or park the car in the pits and let everyone else race.

  7. The Limit said on 25th October 2010, 3:00

    I think the race could have and should have started sooner, but despite this I still rate this grands prix as one of the best so far in 2010. You could hear the frustration and at times pressure in some of the drivers voices in the radio transmissions. You had drivers making mistakes, some who were fighting for the championship and some who were fighting to save their careers.
    I may not be Fernando Alonso’s or Ferrari’s biggest fan, especially after Germany, but the Spaniard impressed the hell out of me today. He was simply flawless, and you cannot take that away from him. He looks very very comfortable in the Ferrari, and the victory in Korea for me was among one of his very best.
    This sport really comes alive when the conditions are bad, and the truly great drivers always come to fore.

    • Baracca said on 25th October 2010, 13:56

      Sometimes being flawless is not enough. Seb Vettel was flawless too. Or maybe he pushed too much, but I doubt it.

      The Webber and Hamilton stories are different. They made mistakes and paid for it.

      Fernando took the blame for the bad pitstop, but I’m not sure it was his fault.

      And Button’s driving was not as bad as it seemed to be. It was the strategic call that was horrid. But my guess is that it was the team’s fault, not his.

  8. I bet that nobody from the forum have driven behind car that sends hundreds of liters of water to his visor, with 160 km/h. So, absolutely no rubber on the track – washed out by the rain, low visibility – of course it should’ve started later – but it was OK. We don’t need more Senna, right ?

  9. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 25th October 2010, 13:49

    Yes, if only a few laps sooner. I think they were being perhaps a little too cautious. Nevertheless a brilliant race though.

  10. Bellof said on 25th October 2010, 13:50

    i lost a lot of respect for a few drivers yesterday except lewis who i tend to dislike if i’m honest. as brundle said it sets a precedent i’ve not missed a race live for 10years actually 12 and if this is the way its going to be when its wet then whats the point?

    if the designers had one thought of compromise when designing these cars it would help a lot, but at the end of the day whether the limit through a corner is 10mph or 100mph that is the limit you drive to that limit these guys are not idiots but they dont want to risk crashing in these conditions. let them go and see all the decent drivers keep it on the black stuff the vast majority of the time,.

    i’m sorry F1 is not safe its part of the game let them get on with it, yesterday i was embarrassed actually embarrassed to justify that to my watching girlfriend it was a shambles. Until 3 years ago I raced karts every other weekend i have driven down straights where you can see nothing all the drivers have countless times it just doesn’t wash.

    Rant over.

  11. Jimbob said on 25th October 2010, 17:03

    You know when they build new tracks? Why doesn’t anyone think to install some drains?!? ;-)

  12. Casanova said on 25th October 2010, 22:57

    Grip and traction depend on the tyre being in contact with the road. The downforce could, I suppose, help displace standing water into the treads, aiding grip up to a certain level of wetness.

    But when aquaplaning happens it is because the tread cannot clear the water fast enough. The channels in the tyre have a certain volume, and the more standing water there is, the more water has to be cleared through those tread channels.

    Similarly, the faster you travel, the greater the pressure of the water being pressed through the tread channels, until that pressure is enough that it lifts the tyre off the ground = aquaplaning.

    Not from a textbook or anything, just my take on it as a (non-tyre) engineer!

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