Formula 1 says it is working on understanding ways it can reduce the risk of races being delayed or even called off in the event of persistent wet weather striking a Grand Prix.
In recent years, Formula 1 has had seemingly more and more rained-out Fridays and Saturdays at events due to torrential conditions, with aquaplaning and poor visibility key issues in wet weather. And this year, Formula 1 lost nearly a complete race on a Sunday for the first time as relentlessly heavy rain meant the entire race consisted of three laps behind the Safety Car at the Belgian Grand Prix.
Formula 1 is determined to investigate whether it can alleviate potential problems if a similar situation arises in the future. Striking a balance of driver safety with the old-school tradition of “we race in the rain” is the goal.
“There’s been some interesting work done there on the spray and the visibility,” said Ross Brawn, Formula 1’s Managing Director of Motorsports.
“(F1 chief technical officer) Pat Symonds and some of the FIA people spoke to some of the drivers at the last couple of races about their experience at Spa and general experiences, particularly drivers who have raced other cars. Fernando (Alonso) was quite interesting, as he said the ability to race in the rain is much better in a sports cars than a Formula 1 car. Somehow you think it’d be challenging with a windscreen and wipers and all the rest of it, but he said the way the spray comes off the car is different.”
Formula 1 is introducing revised technical regulations from 2022 that will alter the shape and aerodynamic prowess of cars, and Brawn says “we have some thoughts it might be a little bit improved” compared to the spray currently given off by Formula 1 cars.
“It’s definitely something we’re going to look at to see how we change things. The two big issues in wet races are visibility and aquaplaning, the aquaplaning is a challenge for tires and beyond a certain point you can’t resolve, but the visibility is maybe something we can improve.”
Formula 1 is also keen to tackle overall car weights from 2026—when the next generation of engines (yet to be fully outlined) will be introduced.
Formula 1 minimum car weights have gradually increased over the last couple of decades and from 2022 will be 790 kilograms (1,740 pounds), before fuel, which means they will be around 900 kg (1,985 pounds) at a race start.
“We’re looking at the new power unit for ’26,” said Brawn. “And the new car will go with it and some of the primary objectives are can we save weight, which is challenging with a hybrid car and the safety initiatives we have these days. Can we have a lighter car? Certainly, can we have a smaller car? We believe we can.
“There’s a very real chance with what’s evolving for ‘26 we can have a more compact car.”
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