Rain threat could reignite F1 wet tyre concerns

The potential in Malaysia this weekend for a first wet grand prix since Suzuka last year is set to put the focus back on F1 rain tyres after very limited wet-weather winter testing.

Rain threat could reignite F1 wet tyre concerns
Wet Pirelli tyres
A wet grid
Mercedes AMG F1 mechanics prepare wet Pirelli tyres
Wet Pirelli tyres
The sprinkler tractor wets the track as the day is declared the official wet weather day of Pirelli tyre testing
The sprinkler tractor wets the track as the day is declared the official wet weather day of Pirelli tyre testing
Wet tyre blankets
Wet Pirelli tyre
Wet Pirelli tyre on the McLaren MP4-28
The FIA hold a Press Conference to discuss the accident involving Marussia F1 Team Driver Jules Bianchi, at the Japanese GP in Suzuka: Charlie Whiting, FIA Delegate; Jean Todt, FIA President; Jean-Charles Piette, FIA Medical Chief; Dr Ian Roberts, FIA Doc
The FIA Medical Car is called onto the circuit to tend to Jules Bianchi, Marussia F1 Team

Despite calls for a proper rain test, in the wake of Jules Bianchi's horrific accident in poor weather conditions at the Japanese Grand Prix last season, F1 looks to be heading for its first wet event without the group running that many wanted.

The current weekend forecast for Sepang indicates a high probability of rain and afternoon storms, although the weather is notoriously difficult to predict in Kuala Lumpur.

The subject of wet-weather running was discussed in depth at a meeting of Formula 1's Sporting Regulations Working Group in last year's Brazilian Grand Prix, with hopes something could be sorted before the start of this season.

But despite these talks, nothing was achieved – and the only wet running that has happened was brief spells following showers in pre-season testing.

Pirelli wanted rain-tyre running...

In January, Pirelli chief Paul Hembery renewed his call for specific rain-tyre testing.

"We always say that we should thoroughly test rain tyres before the start of the season at least once, preferably on a track that can be completely drenched, such as Le Castellet or Fiorano," he said, referring to circuits that have sprinkler systems to artificially soak the surface.

Hembery said the tests would not only help Pirelli perfect its wet weather designs, but also allow the drivers to get used to the tyres.

...and the GPDA too...

During last year's Russian Grand Prix, the Grand Prix Drivers' Association wanted a test so that there could be a better crossover between the intermediate and wet – as the speed of the inter meant drivers were reluctant to switch to the wet.

Lewis Hamilton, when asked about the wet tyres at the time, said: "It is no secret that they are not the greatest wet tyres that I have known. We need to work hard – it is an area that is not always focused on so much. The slick will always be improved, but I guess not so much focus gets put on the wet. 

"You want a tyre that clears the water and not forcing us to go the intermediate: which is so much quicker when it is probably not safe enough to do so. It is something the FIA and Pirelli will work on."

...and the FIA also wanted it to happen

The sport's governing body, the FIA, also urged the sport to do more rain-tyre testing in the wake of the Bianchi crash.

In its official report, published last year, it said: "It is recommended that provision is made for the tyre supplier to develop and adequately test wet weather tyres between each F1 season, such that it is able to supply the latest developments to the first event."

However, following this year's pre-season tests at Jerez and Barcelona, both of which were affected by light rain showers, Pirelli admitted that teams tried "all the compounds apart from the full wet, although there was very little significant running on the intermediate."

In 2014, a day was allocated during the Jerez test to wet running, and Pirelli soaked the circuit with bowser pulled by a tractor.

shares
comments
Faster lap times give even more work to the tyres in Sepang

Previous article

Faster lap times give even more work to the tyres in Sepang

Next article

Button: “Nobody can be happy with finishing at the back”

Button: “Nobody can be happy with finishing at the back”
Load comments
The IndyCar feature that Paul Ricard desperately needs in F1 Prime

The IndyCar feature that Paul Ricard desperately needs in F1

The French Grand Prix offered a surprisingly interesting spectacle, despite the headache-inducing nature of the circuit. But IndyCar's Road America race offered far more in terms of action - and the increased jeopardy at the Elkhart Lake venue might be something Paul Ricard needs in future...

French Grand Prix driver ratings Prime

French Grand Prix driver ratings

The French GP was a weekend decided by tiny margins both at the front of the field, as Red Bull inflicted a comeback defeat on Mercedes, and in the battle for the minor points places. That's reflected in our driver ratings, where several drivers came close to a maximum score

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2021
How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes Prime

How Red Bull took French GP "payback" on a day of Mercedes mistakes

The French GP has been a stronghold for Mercedes since Paul Ricard's return to the calendar in 2018. But that all changed on Sunday, as a clever two-stop strategy guided Red Bull's Max Verstappen to make a race-winning pass on the penultimate lap - for once leaving Mercedes to experience the pain of late defeat it has so often inflicted on Red Bull

Formula 1
Jun 21, 2021
The Mercedes lap that puts F1 victory fight back on a knife-edge Prime

The Mercedes lap that puts F1 victory fight back on a knife-edge

Red Bull led the way after the first two practice sessions for the 2021 French Grand Prix, but only just ahead of Mercedes. There was all the usual practice skulduggery complicating the performance picture, but one aspect seen at the world champion squad gave it a ‘surprise’ lift, as it looks to leave its street-circuit struggles firmly in the past.

Formula 1
Jun 19, 2021
How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working Prime

How Ferrari got its F1 recovery plan working

After its worst campaign in 40 years, the famous Italian team had to bounce back in 2021 – and it appears to be delivering. Although it concedes the pole positions in Monaco and Baku paint a somewhat misleading picture of its competitiveness, the team is heading into the 2022 rules revamp on much stronger footing to go for wins again

Formula 1
Jun 18, 2021
The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness Prime

The joy that exposes F1’s key weakness

Long-awaited wins for ex-Formula 1 drivers Marcus Ericsson and Kevin Magnussen in IndyCar and IMSA last weekend gave F1 a reminder of what it is missing. But with the new rules aimed at levelling the playing field, there’s renewed optimism that more drivers can have a rewarding result when their day of days comes

Formula 1
Jun 17, 2021
The F1 figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again Prime

The F1 figures Red Bull and Mercedes can't afford to see again

OPINION: An interloper squad got amongst the title contenders during Formula 1’s street-circuit mini-break, where Red Bull left with the points lead in both championships. But, as the campaign heads back to purpose-built venues once again, how the drivers of the two top teams compare in one crucial area will be a major factor in deciding which squad stays in or retakes the top spot

Formula 1
Jun 16, 2021
Why Alfa's boss is up to the task of securing a stronger F1 future Prime

Why Alfa's boss is up to the task of securing a stronger F1 future

Two tenth places in recent races have lifted Alfa Romeo to the head of Formula 1's 'Class C' battle in 2021, but longer-term the Swiss-based squad has far loftier ambitions. With the new 2022 rules set to level out the playing field, team boss Frederic Vasseur has good reason to be optimistic, as he explained to Motorsport.com in an exclusive interview

Formula 1
Jun 15, 2021