The extreme weather conditions have forced all the F1 teams to adapt this weekend. Pat Symonds, Renault's executive director of engineering, thinks the result could well be an extremely exciting race. Q: How big a challenge will tomorrow's...
The extreme weather conditions have forced all the F1 teams to adapt this weekend. Pat Symonds, Renault's executive director of engineering, thinks the result could well be an extremely exciting race.
Q: How big a challenge will tomorrow's revised schedule give the teams?
Pat Symonds: At this stage, it is extremely difficult to predict what will happen. We are dealing with a very unusual weather pattern, and we may see a wet morning followed by drying conditions, or a full wet qualifying session and race. The simple fact is that we did very little useful running yesterday (Friday) owing to the poor conditions, and if any part of the race proves dry, then we will find ourselves running tyres that we have no specific information about at this circuit.
Whatever happens, tomorrow's events will certainly keep us on our toes and favour those that can think quickly and react well. Although the situation is somewhat difficult, it is the same for everyone. Personally, I think this is just the kind of unexpected challenge that Formula 1 has a habit of throwing at you from time to time. and the kind of variation that makes things interesting.
Q: Looking at the tyre situation, what challenges might a wet-dry race provide?
PS: Suzuka is one of the hardest circuits for the tyres in the dry, and this will affect the wet tyres even more. If we find ourselves having to run extreme weather tyres at any point in the race, twenty cars running at the same time will move a large amount of standing water very quickly.
If at any point it then stops raining, the remaining water will be cleared in the space of a few laps - and because of the high energies involved in the high-speed corners the tyre will quickly become totally unsuitable and wear very quickly. The transition to requiring normal wet tyres will come very quickly, and if any team misses it, then the penalty in terms of lap-time for even just a single lap too far will be significant.
Q: Will the intense schedule make life difficult for the drivers?
PS: Single lap qualifying is always a very delicate balance between being quick enough to be competitive, but not taking so many risks that you go off. If, as seems likely, qualifying is held in the wet, then the drivers will face a very difficult challenge: the risks of making a mistake and going off are higher in wet conditions, but also the pressure not to do so will be much greater tomorrow, as the time available for repairs before the race is extremely limited.
Once they have navigated this potential minefield, they will then have to prepare for the 53-lap race, on one of the most demanding circuits of the year, in the space of just three hours. It is quite a challenge for all of them.
Q: Finally, what do you think the race might hold?
PS: If qualifying is held in the wet, then I think we can expect a mixed-up grid, because it is hard to believe that nobody will make a mistake in those kinds of conditions. Logically, that should produce entertaining racing - especially on as good a drivers' circuit as Suzuka. Like we saw in Brazil in 2003, unpredictable conditions could well give us a very unexpected winner at the end of the race. All in all, I think tomorrow's Grand Prix has all the hallmarks of being a bit of a classic.