Red flag – was it necessary?

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    Profile photo of himmatsj

    Correct me if I am wrong, but yesterday’s race would have gone on uninterrupted if it happened around 10 years ago. Now, even with higher safety levels, they decided to halt the race. If I remember correctly, the last suspension before Malaysia 2009 was Brazil 2003. That time, there were rivers of water on track.

    However, yesterday the reason given was the drivers were flying off the track hence the track was not fit for racing. This brings me to the question – shouldn’t the drivers then slow down? It is in these kinds of conditions that greats such as Schumacher, Senna and even Hamilton (Britain 07 & Fuji 08) sealed their place as the best racers of our sport.

    Last year’s Canada GP and this year’s Malaysia GP would have gone on if it happened 10, 20 or 30 years ago. It is because of whiners like Sebastien Vettel (no disrespect intended) that we see races being red flagged more often than not.

    The only red flag that can be justified in recent memory is Malaysia 09 as then, the light level was way too low to race.

    Also, as a yardstick as to how dangerous a track is, I think we should use Fuji 08 as our reference point. I think there was a typhoon passing over the track yet they stayed out and raced, albeit being under the safety car for a few laps.

    Drivers have to get their act together and race. The organizers (FIA) should only suspend the race if there’s a very very good reason to do so i.e. massive river of water flowing perpendicularly to the motion of the cars or low light levels.

    Visibility and lakes of water shouldn’t be an excuse, as in the past, cars with lower downforce could drive in them quite finely. The current generation of drivers shouldn’t be babysitted like this.

    Finally, for two red-flagged races in a row now, the moment the safety car went in, drivers changed to intermediates. That’s crazy, absurd and highly illogical. The FIA has a lot of thinking to do regarding racing in rainy conditions. They might as well ask Pirreli not to make wet tyres so they can save some money.

    Profile photo of Jarred Walmsley
    Jarred Walmsley

    What do you mean visibility shouldn’t be an excuse, it seems like a very good excuse to me, if the drivers cannot see where they are going either due to low light or pouring rain then it is simply to dangerous to drive at 200km/h+. In this case I would much rather see a red flag then a serious injury or crash as a result of the conditions.

    Profile photo of Selbbin

    I was thinking that too. There’s no minimum speed. Babysitting drivers who can’t go full pace is absurd. They should slow down to the speeds necessary to NOT lose control, no matter how slow that might be. The more daring can go faster and risk damaging the cars. Look at Vergne, who was still racing on inters in the full rain, but CAREFULLY, while taking on the likes of Schumacher on full wets.

    Profile photo of Slr

    I think if aquaplaining is a big problem, then I can understand a red flag. With visibility, I’ve seen in the past drivers race with little to no visibility, and get through a grand prix just fine. The full wets are supposed to be even better this year also, so for me, that’s another reason why they should race in wet conditions.

    Profile photo of damonsmedley

    Red flag was necessary, I feel. There’s low visibility, and there’s no visibility. They were aquaplaning, but that wasn’t the reason it was red flagged. Of course, as you say, 10 years ago there’d have been no red flag, but safety has come a long way since then and it’s just silly to send drivers out in those conditions when nothing good can come from it. I don’t think yesterday was as bad as Canada last year, but it was still right on the limit I think. Perhaps they could have continued, but I preferred it as it was as we got more racing in and it was a lot more fun when the track was drying.

    Profile photo of Asanator

    I think aquaplaning in the middle sector was what caused it not visibility, if the water is too deep for the wet tyres there is no alternative! Perhaps Pirelli should look at the performance of there wet weather tyre, of course back in the day we used to have extreme wets too but they were never/rarely used oddly enough!

    Profile photo of Alianora La Canta
    Alianora La Canta

    Paul di Resta said there were rivers on the track, which by itself would be sufficient to cause a red flag, on the same basis as Brazil 2003 was delayed.

    Lakes of water are an excuse because the problem is the water clearing speed of the tyres. If the amount of water is more than the amount the tyres can clear, going at even 1mph won’t stop aquaplaning. Of course, going faster impedes water clearance, but if the cars can’t travel enough to be steered round the corners due to the quantity of water, stopping the race is the only safe recourse. Perhaps the extreme wet tyres should have a larger tread cut to enable water clearance comparable to 10-20 years ago (it got reduced during the Bridgestone-Michelin tyre wars and has not been increased since).

    Profile photo of raymondu999

    We need the 20mm monsoon tyres back :P

    Profile photo of W-K

    Before critisising, one should consider what you would do in Charlie Whiting’s position.
    Would you continue racing, when the drivers report unavoidable aquaplaning and/or no visibility, knowing this could cause a serious accident?

    Profile photo of Neusalz

    I believe that the red flag was necessary, but the I think safety was taken too far. We had a repeat of Canada, when the cars were allowed to race again they were able to put on Intermediates soon after. That is just unacceptable and pretty makes the wets irrelevant, you can hardly use them.

    Profile photo of Karthikeyan

    lap number 5 whiner number 1 radioed in saying ‘Guys, I’m aquaplaning’
    lap number 7 whiner number 2 radioed in about the presence of a lake
    Since your intelligence is questionable(no disrespect intended) not being able to get the driver name right I will check that for you. Nope, not Vettel

    Profile photo of th13teen

    Yes, I feel it was totally the correct desicion to halt the race. The fact that drivers were racing at a snails pace, visibibility was next to nothing especially on TV let alone what it was like in the car! For those who moan about the fact that a red flag is put out, just think, we could have gone behined the safety car for the full 50 minute break otherwise! Safety is paramount and if you don’t understand that, don’t support F1, unlike indycar, F1 has the understanding to not kill a driver!!!

    Profile photo of Girts

    I very much agree with @th13teen and a lot of other F1 fanatics here.

    It is probably true that, 10 years ago, the race wouldn’t have been stopped. I’ve also noticed that races get red-flagged because of rain nowadays more often than before. I don’t know if it’s solely because of the safety considerations or if there are other factors as well but it’s the right thing to do. For sure, chaotic races are exciting but ain’t they actually more like dangerous lotteries that have little to do with what motorsport is about? I don’t think that excitement is worth the risk. After the race was red-flagged, RTL television showed a very good movie about how driving in spray is like. According to that, the visibility decreases by 90%, compared to normal conditions! And every driver will confirm that one sees basically nothing and can only guess where he should start to brake when approaching a corner. That’s simply unnecessary. It only makes sense to stop the race & wait until the rain is over.

    It’s stupid to start the Malaysian GP at 4PM local time, it should start at least 2 hours earlier but that’s another story.

    Profile photo of himmatsj

    I know, I hear all your views, but that pretty much means that from now on, we can never know how great a driver is. Sure, driving when it’s all sunshine is one thing, but Schumacher, Senna and Hamilton have cemented their place in the all-time greats list by virtue of their commanding drives in extreme wet (worse or as bad as Malaysia) conditions.

    Regarding what Girts has to say, that absolutely true – drivers had to rely on their sixth sense – i.e. listening to the sound of the engines of the cars front and back – to guess their positions and seeing where a corner was was just a guessing game. But again, that’s what set the nearly-men apart from the real men.

    Trust me, by the looks of it, we will never see a wet-weather classic race again, as if the drivers had it their way 10, 20 or 30 years ago, they too would have radioed in to the FIA and asked them to suspend the race. But the never got the chance, and they came out of it all right.

    Profile photo of Karthikeyan

    @himmatsj – Maybe you should check the Adelaide race that was redflagged due to inclement weather. Or the race where Niki Lauda threw the towel in championship decider that got James Hunt his one and only Championship. This back in the old days comments sounds all glorious in words, but those were also the times when people died. If drivers are forced to driver no matter the weather conditions we will be having classics for breakfast, lunch and dinner and half the field would not make the end of the season.
    Sure classical wet weather drives are great, but its not always just about the driver. Some cars are just better than other cars in certain weather conditions. If wet weather tyres are not good enought to give the needed grip or atleast make surface contact with the track then it’s hardly the driver’s fault.
    Two questions, 1) Are we still using racing tyres from 10,20 or 30 years ago?
    2) Are the cars even similar to 10,20 or 30 years ago?
    If the answer to above questionsa are no, then your comparison to history no longer holds relevance.

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