Overcautious Wet Conditions??


World Champion
Been holding off starting this thread for a while. But since Monaco & Le Mans it the 1 thing about motorsport that is irritating me more & more

Before I start I understand the need to keep drivers safe especially after tragic Bianchi accident which in my opinion was more fading light problem than rain anyway but in most motorsport Le Mans, F1 & lower formula (GP2 & GP3 ) we've gone Health & Safety mad in last 5 yrs. In my eyes a Safety Car start should only be used as a extreme stance if we are only 1 step from a red flag stoppage for bad weather (like suzuka 94 torrential rain standing water everywhere) not everytime we get a spot of drizzle. As formula 1 is supposed to have 22 of the "greatest" most talented drivers in world & on full wets that should be enough 90% barring freak weather if not then pirelli need help developing wet tyres like Bridgestone era did & could cope

Too many times the Safety Car has stayed out so long that by the time the safety car eventually comes in. the drivers are pitting for intermediates & drys. also the track will dry faster with them going quicker. Will Buxton made a great point about this during the gp3 race in Austria "How are young drivers supposed to learn how to race in the wet when they spend 75% of wet races in single file behind a safety car?" & we're going to end up like the old defunct champ car series in America. where anytime it got beyond what we would call intermediate conditions they would suspend the race
I can see the sense in a safety car start to eliminate half the field committing hari kari at the first corner in very wet weather but 2 laps maximum, that will allow the drivers to see the prevailing conditions and drive accordingly. The requirement for 5 laps under the safety car indicates the race shouldn't have started as the conditions would cause accidents leading to a 5 lap safety car to clear the track of cars and or debris
There was a time in F1 when drivers clamoured for safety reform, now they say it's going too far. It's a symptom of the modern (western) world. I fear that the trend is over-zealous, that it will continue, and that it may produce more ugly car-extensions and somewhat sterile racing conditions. The drivers are against excessive use of the safety car, and it's their lives on the line - which in my view is the end of the argument.

I'm in agreement with you F1Brits_90 except where it comes to Bianchi. My view is that at that time there was great pressure for drivers not to lose time under yellow flags by going too slowly. I remember reading somewhere that drivers who backed off too much under yellows were slammed by their team for losing precious tenths. That I believe has been addressed. No doubt the fading light was an issue, but the main reason Bianchi left the track was because he was going too fast to stay on it under yellow flags.
we've ended up like Americans that I laughed at for being wimps 10 yrs ago red flagging the race at the slightest hint of drizzle
I understand what your saying but you should have left this out. You can't call Americans wimps, they compete in the most dangerous single seater racing in the world. They don't have wet weather tyres only slicks which are lethal on ovals at the slightest sign of a few spits of drizzle. They already die far too often, even if they had wets the death rate on ovals would be unacceptable. I can assure you they're bloody brave and highly skilled at staying alive, they're NOT wimps.
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Well in the case of Silverstone I understand the start behind the safety car, even though it was dull, but the safety car stayed out far to long. One lap would have been fine. To cautious by far,
I understand what your saying but you should have left this out. You can't call Americans wimps, they participate in the most dangerous single seater racing in the world. They don't have wet weather tyres only slicks which are lethal on ovals at the slightest sign of a few spits of drizzle. They already die far too often, even if they had wets the death rate would be unacceptable. I can assure you they're bloody brave and highly skilled at staying alive, they're NOT wimps.

I never meant to imply ovals I probably shouldve phrased it better apologies for that English at school was never my strong suit (far better at maths). Because I completely understand that you need all the grip on an oval

But I was more on about the old champ car series in America that I used to watch on eurosport or motors tv before it folded/ swallowed up by Indycar back in 2006??. which very rarely ran on ovals bar 1 a season. it was all purpose built circuits likes of (Road America, Montreal, Laguna Seca, Long Beach Hermanos Rodriguez) + street tracks. anytime it got beyond what we would call inters they would suspend the race. hope ive cleared it up
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Le Mans was absolutely ridiculous. The fans were booing and rightly so, they should have invaded the track (not really, but make their point more strongly). Of course it's dangerous and in the worst conditions there has to be a place for the Safety Car start, but in my view it has gone too far, and we're now denied the opportunity to see drivers demonstrate their skill. Before long Pirelli will be calling for a single wet tyre, it's hard to argue for the continued existence of two types, and attendant cost, when one is just a SC tyre.
Must admit I had to drive my VW Golf home from Santa Pod that same Sunday & we had monsoon rain whilst on the A14, we didn't have a safety car, no one crashed as we drove to the conditions.......

Safety gone mad as it was ridiculous to see cars changing tyres as soon as the Safety Car rolled in to the pits, surely that's got to be ironic to those in charge?
A Safety Car start should be used frequently in order to prevent a standing start in conditions where the braking point at turn one is somewhere between a guess and a mystery. However, the Safety Car should automatically be withdrawn after lap one. Should conditions be too dangerous for this to occur, there should be a delayed start.

In the race at Silverstone, I do not believe that the circuit conditions were treacherous enough that they would merit a Safety Car if they occurred "in play", and thus the Safety Car should have been withdrawn after lap one.

The Bianchi incident is an emotive red herring in this situation. That Bianchi span off would not have constituted a non-survivable accident had the JCB not been parked within the circuit walls at the time. It is clear that the deployment of such machinery on Formula One tracks should be matched with the deployment of the Safety Car.

With the safe run-offs, and the safe tyre barriers, there should be less worry about the condition of the circuit. Many steps have been taken to secure the events, and I suspect that little would change in the event of early releases. The sight of drivers "following in" the Safety Car is particularly nauseating.
One of the problems these days is also that the race director relies heavily on the real-time feedback from drivers for information on the evolution of track conditions. That in itself isn't a problem - the drivers are still better-placed than anybody else to judge on a track's grip levels - but that opens the door for drivers giving feedback that suit themselves and their teams according to their own chances of getting a good result. We only get to hear a small percentage of radio communications being voiced so we can't be sure that all the drivers at Silverstone were as keen to get racing as it sounded after a few laps.

Teams and drivers aren't stupid and they are aware of the strengths and weaknesses of rival cars. If driver A is aware that the car of driver B is more prone at losing tyre temperature quickly he'll be keen to see the safety-car maintained. If another driver is a bit behind in WDC standings he'll be anxious to get racing as there's a bigger chance a rival might spin off, and so on.

Self-interest always takes precedence n the end.
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One needs to note with aquaplaning it happens a very low speeds with an F1 car,on a water depth of tread depth or less it happens at 9x sq root of the tyre pressure, about 15psi when cold on wets, so about 35mph, where the water depth is above tread depth the car surfs, water cannot be displaced. The deep rivers need to be taken in a straight line ensuring the car will achieve adhesion before a direction change, basically the track needs no more than 1.5mm of water before racing can commence over at least 70% of the track
A main problem in oval racing here in the U.S., is the close proximity of the fans to the race track, requiring the need for protective fencing surrounding the track. This can be deadly to drivers when launched into that fencing, as a result of making some initial wheel contact with another car at 200 mph. Another problem in this form of racing is the debris that fly into the grandstands, injuring spectators some seriously when contact between drivers are made.
I knew when I was writing this might be touchy subject for people on both pro & anti sides. Also is this a pirelli problem or an F1 problem (ie why I started this thread in 1st place) because whats changed in 20 yrs between the grand prixs in 90's/early 00's & some of gp we've seen jn recent years

1996 Spanish gp start. soaking wet but normally 5 light start (go to part 3 & 5 mins in)
1996 Spanish gp - YouTube
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F1Brits_90 I think it's just that safety is a much greater concern in F1 now compared to 20 years ago, as shown by the increased use of the safety car, greater run-off areas & the impending introduction of the halo.
While you get clean starts like the 1996 Spanish GP, you can also get carnage like the 1998 Belgian GP start & with safety being more of a concern, the FIA will always be slightly overcautious.
Also, back in the seventies, eighties and early nineties the biggest problem by far when driving in the rain was that of visibility because the rear tyres were anything from 3 to five inches wider than they are today.
This, combined with the wider and lower rear wings they had back then was causing the cars to spray such an impenetrable sheet of water in their wake the driver behind would be virtually blinded and purely relied on the engine note of car in front to have any idea of where they were on the track. They were quite a lot of very nasty instances of drivers unsighted crashing into the car in front, Prost-Pironi, Senna-Brundle, Piquet-Ghinzani...There were some races within that period that should never have been started, such as the 1989 and 1991 editions of the OZ GP.

But they always were in the end...

Incidentally, that might be something to keep in mind for those clamouring for the return of 18" rear tyres. Wet-track visibility would be reduced back to their previous levels too?
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I can't really add much more than has been said already, I'm in agreement with most that Silverstone/anywhere they peel in for intermediate tyres the second the safety car is in was a bit silly but....on the reverse of every ticket for a race I've ever been to it says in bold letters "Motorsport is dangerous" I think that's part of the attraction, I am all for keeping the drivers safe but there's a limit. You can't legislate against all accidents, if you start down that route there'll be halos on top of the closed cockpits and airbags in the car.
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