Malaysia’s unpredictable rain will keep teams guessing

2012 Malaysian Grand Prix weather

Sepang International Circuit, 2012For the second race weekend in a row the teams have been greeted by heavy rain at an F1 track on Thursday.

In Australia it cleared up in time for the all-important qualifying and race sessions. Will the same happen in Malaysia?

Rain is a regular occurrence in this part of the world at this time of year, so it’s no surprise to see weather forecasts predicting it throughout the race weekend and beyond.

But the rainfall tends to happen late on in the day. That means there’s a good chance it won’t come during the race.

History provides a good guide on this point. In the 13 previous Malaysian Grands Prix, two have seen heavy rainfall. And on one of those occasions, in 2009, the race was held in a later than usual time slot. The start time has been moved forward an hour since then.

But early reports of an increased chance of rain later in the weekend will have teams watching their weather radars closely. Even that is no guarantee – in 2010 McLaren and Ferrari took what their radar was telling them for granted during qualifying and got no further than Q1 after being caught out by a sudden shower.

When it rains in Malaysia, it tends to fall in huge, sudden downpours. But high ambient temperatures help the track dry quickly.

These hot, humid conditions make life hard for the drivers, the pit crews, and the cars. Any shortcoming in a car’s cooling will be mercilessly exposed with temperatures in the high 20s to low 30s.

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22 comments on Malaysia’s unpredictable rain will keep teams guessing

  1. plutoniumhunter (@plutoniumhunter) said on 22nd March 2012, 8:23

    Ah, the rain. Even we locals can’t say for sure whether it will rain or not, just that most of the time it’s definitely over 50% ;-)

  2. himmatsj (@himmatsj) said on 22nd March 2012, 8:41

    Haha, I live in KL and one thing I can say is that it has been raining here daily at around 5 – 7 pm. Sepang is a little farther away, so I am not sure what the situation is like there. Anyways, there’s always a chance that it might rain in the afternoon 12 – 3 pm, like once a week.

  3. JCost (@jcost) said on 22nd March 2012, 8:56

    I like races with light rain.

    • Jeanrien (@jeanrien) said on 22nd March 2012, 10:26

      That is not an option … Usually there it’s all or nothing. When it rains that’s heavy. But as mentioned, it also dries quickly. Expect the big team to make fasst runs early in quali not to get cought by the rain

  4. Jay Menon (@jaymenon10) said on 22nd March 2012, 9:03

    It hasnt been raining heavily for the last week or so, in fact we have been getting a lot of cloud cover at the usual times, but no rain, even if it does, very light.

    Once again, the weather is unpredictable here, bright sunshine disappears in minutes. a 15 minute down pour can cause floods, thats how much water comes down!!

    Rain is good, make racing more exciting, but not like 2009, that was just sad.

  5. I work on two weather philosophies in F1

    If rain is forecast, expect a dry race
    If no rain is forecast, expect a dry race

    ;)

  6. Slr (@slr) said on 22nd March 2012, 9:54

    Wet qualifying and a dry race is what I’d like to see. But whatever the weather, I think we’ll lots of overtaking in the race. Last year’s race was brilliant, and there have been many Malaysian Grand Prix which has put on great races in the past. Sepang along with Istanbul are the best tilke circuits by far.

  7. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 22nd March 2012, 11:23

    Nothing beats a little bit of rain to drive up the fun !

  8. Robbie (@robbie) said on 22nd March 2012, 11:50

    Personally I’ve never been excited by the threat of wet quali/races or drying conditions etc. I think it makes the cars look like they are on ice, and while I get that it brings unpredictability and tosses the field upside down sometimes, I would much rather see dry conditions and unpredictability coming from a tight field, not because an outside factor caused it. It’s akin, to me, to needing gadgets to ‘help’ the show. People think BE’s idea of sprinklers around all tracks is silly, so why do people like wet weather conditions for F1? Not for me.

    • vjanik said on 22nd March 2012, 12:21

      i would also like unpredictable dry races without DRS. i would like many things. i daydream quite often abou things i would like.

      but seriously, i think rain is not on the same level as sprinklers or DRS. rain has been here before F1 was, so i wouldn’t consider it an artificial element to spice up the racing. and the truth is it DOES make races more unpredictable and exciting. So why not be excited about it?

      • Robbie (@robbie) said on 22nd March 2012, 14:31

        Lol, no of course one cannot stop the rain, and while I don’t consider it a gadget I consider liking rainy F1 quali/races akin to liking gadgets in F1. Or better put, I wish it didn’t take for rain to spice things up. There I go, wishing again.

        I think what it is for me is that I want to imagine that as I watch a race I am watching drivers on a knife edge balance between grip and going off the track. And with wet weather conditions that knife edge is gone, the cars are lapping way way slower than normal, and that is even visible on TV. And speaking of visibility, I really feel for the drivers who can barely see in front of them. So for that reason I can’t get excited, in spite of the unpredictability. I can’t look back at a rainy race and say to myself, Ok, so that is where the cars stand amongst themselves. I look back at a rainy race and say, well that was a crapshoot, can’t wait for a dry race to see the cars at their max and see where the cars really stand.

        That all said, I do understand that rainy conditions hold their unique challenges and we are still seeing a bunch of drivers dealing with the same conditions and some of them prevailing ie. extracting the max they can under the conditions. It just doesn’t feel knife edge to me even though I know the drivers are still balancing grip with going off…feels more like luck of the draw, luck in timing a pit for the right tires at the right time…and yes, that is part of the challenge and an interesting element.

        I just never in my life have been excited about rainy conditions for car races. They say potential rain, and my immediate thought is ‘aw crap’. And ever since I attended a Toronto CART race (now Indycar) and it rained, I feel for those in attendance. Paying good money to view cars slowly lapping around whilst trying to see a small patch of the track over a bunch of umbrellas was no fun.

        • TheStig781 said on 23rd March 2012, 0:09

          Wow, I never knew the CART series raced in the rain, shame the only good open-wheel series in North America is dead.

          The fact that the cars lap slower in the rain is irrelevant; they are lapping that drenched circuit infinitesimally quicker than any other type of car on Earth, open-wheelers included. Plus they are essential as quick down the straights; little to no spectator entertainment value is lost.

          Artificial weather is completely different to artificial “gadgets” on the cars. On is a cornerstone of F1, the other is a gimmick. The weather unpredictability is part and parcel of racing. Having sprinklers round the track is a ludicrous idea.

  9. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 22nd March 2012, 13:59

    It’s not a case of if, but when!

    I imagine it’s just awful clambering out of a hot stuffy car when you’re completely soaked and everything is just humid. I don’t pity those on the podium, I bet they just want to get in the shower.

  10. phizzy said on 22nd March 2012, 14:08

    I have lived in malaysia for a couple of years… when it rains here its like some one threw a 5 liter bucket of water on you…. imagine someone pouring those buckets every second… a 5 meter run to your car will soak you fully..

  11. Snafu (@snafu) said on 22nd March 2012, 15:32

    I just hope it doesn’t rain before start so we have to see the start and first few laps behind the safety car! it just spoils the fun!

    imagine a battle between Vettle, Schumacher, Hamilton in rainy condition!

  12. sato113 (@sato113) said on 22nd March 2012, 22:18

    radar anyone?

  13. James (@jamesf1) said on 23rd March 2012, 19:03

    So basically it’s a case of: if the ground is wet it’s raining. If it’s dry, it’s not!

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