D he GP Brazil was a classic rain race. It rained through from start to finish. To be precise: it was trickling, it was drizzling, but nothing of the strength that we are actually used to from Sao Paulo. Nevertheless, the start had to be postponed by 10 minutes, it was started behind the safety car, interrupted twice and the Grand Prix neutralized five times for a total of 31 laps. And each of these measures was justified in terms of safety.
Kimi Räikkönen's accident on the home straight showed how critical the conditions were. Since the Formula 1 scarcely missed a catastrophe. That was Russian Roulette with 5 balls in the barrel. The fact that Raikkonen's Ferrari was not hit on his odyssey across the track or later when he was upside down at the pit wall was the great miracle of the race.
Rain tires displace too little water
Once again: It was a rainy race that you wouldn't have thought about 40, 30, 20, even 10 years ago. Given the low rain intensity, it would have been possible without the safety car to start, without interruptions and without aquaplaning on the straight. If someone had flown, it would have been in the corners.
Do you remember the rain battles of Zolder 1977, Estoril 1985, Barcelona 1996 or Silverstone 2008? It rained three times as hard. The railway was partially flooded. Nevertheless, the drivers did not have the feeling of just being passengers and driving around the route in a total blind flight. Lewis Hamilton confirmed: “Silverstone 2008 was much worse.”
The Brazilian GP winner also said: “Driving a Formula 1 car in the rain is the most difficult of all possible tasks. If it were easy and everyone did their laps without mistakes, then everyone could do it. We drive so fast that it is difficult for the tires to displace the water. I didn't find the race particularly difficult. The problem wasn't the wet, but the aquaplaning. ”
Most drivers blame the rain tires. “We have to work to improve it. It would be good if, with little water, it wasn't so on the knife's edge whether you fly or not, ”demands Nico Rosberg. Räikkönen said after the race: “I would have caught my car before.” Max Verstappen hopes: “Next year with more downforce and better tiresit should get easier.
The drivers don't even see the taillights
But the problem is not just the Pirelli rain tires. It is also the spray that is getting worse and worse in line with the increasingly extreme aerodynamics. The fountains are a good 100 meters long. In a group, especially after the restart, the visibility is zero.
'The water mist does not leave immediately. He seemed to be hanging over the home straight the whole time ”, criticized Pascal Wehrlein. Carlos Sainz said: “The re-starts are waiting really badly. It's a miracle that everyone got through there safely. ”
Hamilton has easy talk. He was the only one in the field who always had a clear view, and he sits in the best car with the most downforce and an engine that drives like a production engine. He could see every puddle. He knew where on the uphill straight the water ran over the track.
His colleagues drove into a white wall. 'You don't see anything, not even the flashing tail light, when a car drives 10 meters in front of you,' reports Wehrlein. “I was relieved every time I reached the end of the home straight,” admitted Sergio Perez.
In fact, all accidents and all slips happened on the full throttle between Turn 12 and 1. Because there is always new puddles formed that weren't there in the previous round. The white lines in turns 12 and 13 were also dangerous. The torque of the V6 turbos with their electric power turned them into a trap for many drivers.
Whoever turned in that area stood up the presentation plate in the way of his colleagues. Not only Raikkonen was lucky. Marcus Ericsson, Felipe Massa, Sebastian Vettel, Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso all needed guardian angels to avoid getting hit.
It gets really scary when you hear the voices of some drivers. Daniel Ricciardo was right behind Raikkonen when the accident happened. The Australian hasn't even seen him. Wehrlein explains: “The first time I noticed that a car was parked there was when I was next to it. Out of the corner of my eye I saw something red to my left. If Kimi had been standing in the middle of the track, I would have hit him completely. ”
The consequence of such statements would be to ban rain races. Or turn off the things that make it almost impossible to race in the rain today. A package of measures includes better rain tires, aerodynamics that do not generate as much spray, more powerful taillights or electronic warning signals in the cockpit.