Raikkonen: F1 looks “ridiculous” not running on very wet tracks

2019 Japanese Grand Prix

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Formula 1 was better equipped to run in very wet conditions 18 years ago than it is today, according to Kimi Raikkonen.

The Alfa Romeo driver says changes in the tyres has meant F1 cars can no longer run when tracks are very wet.

This weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix is facing disruption from Super Typhoon Hagibis, which is expected to arrive late on Friday and bring heavy rain throughout Saturday. “If it looks bad they might cancel straight away and not even come,” said Raikkonen.

“Obviously we know how limited we are with the tyres, unfortunately. It doesn’t need much rain then we have aquaplaning, that’s the issue, then obviously you have zero control.”

Raikkonen believes very wet conditions which F1 cars used to run in are now too much for the tyres.

“[In] the early days when I started it could rain really heavy and we never had an issue,” he said. “So for sure the tyres are not best when there’s standing water but that’s how it is unfortunately.

“It doesn’t look like there’s a lot of water, it looks really ridiculous sometimes that we cannot run. But that’s just how it is.”

Raikkonen raced on Bridgestone tyres in his first season of F1 with Sauber, then switched to Michelin at McLaren the following year. Bridgestone began supplying the whole grid when the ‘tyre war’ ended in 2007, and Pirelli took over as the sport’s sole tyre supplier in 2011. Two years ago new, wider tyres were introduced.

Several Formula 1 drivers have complained about the performance of Pirelli’s full wet weather tyres in recent seasons. Raikkonen has been one of their most consistent critics during rain-affected race weekends, including at Interlagos in 2016 and at Monza in 2017.

“When there’s a river you lose absolutely control of the cars,” Raikkonen added. “We’ll see, if it rains like it supposed to rain I think it’s a very clear no-go. We’ll see what we can.”

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55 comments on “Raikkonen: F1 looks “ridiculous” not running on very wet tracks”

  1. Bring back monsoon tyres.

    1. I did not realise they no longer existed, they were always used a couple of times per year.
      Kimi is right, no doubt about it.
      It makes the supposedly most advanced highest spec sport look pathetic.

      1. @huhhii The problem with monsoon tires is that there is rarely a need to use them so they end up been a significant expense.

        Good Year came up with the moon soon tires after the Brazilian Gp in 1996 which was considered to be on the limit of what the full wet’s of the time could cope with. However they ended up never using the monsoon tires during a race weekend & after 2 years of carting them around the world to every Gp as well as spending a fortune on developing them they dropped them in 1998 & none of the subsequent tire suppliers ever produced them.

        1. @gt-racer Common sense should be applied. Obviously there’s no point to ship monsoon tires to Abu Dhabi or Bahrain GP. There are other GPs where they’d be completely useless with 100% certainty.

          How long does it take for Pirelli to manufacture 2-3 sets of tires for 20 cars? Couldn’t they manufacture monsoon tires only when there’s a chance they could be needed (like now?). And do Pirelli’s tires have an expiration date? Maybe Pirelli could manufacture enough monsoon tires beforehand for one race weekend, store them in their factory and ship them to a race when they’re needed.

          Of course some tire testing would be necessary and that costs money, but I think it’d be worth it.

          1. @huhhii – Read about it somewhere (cannot find) but this article is close enough. Tires have limited shelf life and are generally destroyed after each race. Assuming the same is done for wet weather tires, it seems a lot to ask to bang out 160-240 additional tires every race with a chance of heavy rain.

            Might be more useful to just push the intermediate closer to wets, and wets further out.

          2. @huhhii, you say “Common sense should be applied”, but common sense is the reason why monsoon tyres were never used in practise.

            As @gt-racer rightly notes, by the time that the monsoon tyres would be any use, the weather conditions would almost always have deteriorated to the point where the infrastructure supporting the race would be struggling to cope and the race would usually have to be stopped for other reasons (for example, transporting a driver in need of medical attention to an external facility probably couldn’t be done within the FIA’s minimum recommended extraction time in those conditions).

        2. I feel sure they had monsoon tyres in 2002 but I could be wrong.

    2. Has nothing to do with ‘monsoon” tires, Pirelli full wets can move only slightly more water than Bridgestone’s intermediates. This is based on numbers that Pirelli themselves provided. Pirelli provides a garbage product to F1 and have been ruining the racing since 2011 when they bribed bernie to become sole supplier.

      1. I agree, I just don’t think Pirelli is very good at making tires (wet or dry). I was at the USGP in 2015 (I think) when they had to cancel qualifying because of rain, and it didn’t seem all that wet on track.

        1. Weren’t the pits essentially flooded and high winds caused damage to parts of the circuit?

      2. The reason is that much beyond Bridgestone’s intermediate tyre, and the current high-downforce cars produce so much spray that the visibility gets impractical to race in, even for F1 drivers. Bridgestone was in a lower-downforce era, when the displaced water wasn’t sprayed about so much by the downforce strength, meaning there was a point in having full wet tyres that were actually full wets.

        Even now, there are few occasions where a Pirelli full wet is used at full speed due to the visibility issue.

  2. I miss watching Schumacher in the rain. As a kid I would pray it rained midrace especially when he was struggling.
    I miss Schumi. A win at any cost kind of guy.
    I miss the old F1.
    But thats just me ….

    1. Fair play. Each to their own. For each person praying Schumacher would win there were 3 or 4 hoping he would lose. As a driver he was excellent but the way he went about his racing made my stomach turn. He didn’t need to cheat like he did. But that’s just me…

      1. made your stomach churn did it? Well if thats the case, the antics and overtakes we have seen this year should be making you spew up your dinner every grand prix.
        The moves we are seeing now are far beyond anything that schumacher would ever do.

    2. I miss the old F1 too. Cars with their engines in the front. Cars with tall skinny tires. Fangio chasing down Hawthorn and Collins to try win at all costs.

      Yeah, we could do this all day.

      1. Fangio only won because of the Car! Look it up, never did another team win the Constructors’ while Fangio raced. What a hack! Nuvolari now, HE knew his stuff. non of that modern hocus pocus

    3. @nesarajah I actually remember how Schumacher more often ended up off the track, in the wall or crashed into other cars in the wet. Oddly enough his fans remember the few races were he had a decent performance.

      Like Spain where 6 cars made it to the finish and Schumacher won. “OMG, so great!” Similar to Panis winning in Monaco with 6 cars finishing. “Ah well, he was just lucky”. Incidentally also one of the races race where Schumacher parked his car in the wall. On the first lap no less!

      1. @f1osaurus I was never a Schumacher supporter, quite the opposite. In fact, after Jerez 1997 I stopped supporting Ferrari because in my view at that point they stopped being Ferrari and became Schumacherrari which was not a team I could support.

        But on the point of wet weather driving it’s you who are wrong. or maybe your memory is failing you. Monaco 1996,where he crashed on the first lap is one of the few exceptions not the rule. Also you cannot compare this race to Spain 1996. yes just six drivers finished but compared to four in Monaco it’s more and you need to see who were the drivers who finished. Jean Alesi was P2 45 sec behind himself a great weather driver. Villeneuve in the dominant Williams was p3 nearly 50 secs behind and all others incl. Frentzen and Hakkinen were over a lap back. also it was not because others retired he was so dominant I watched this race recently and he was dominant from the beginning driving away from everyone by sometimes five seconds per lap while the likes of Hill and Coulthard were spinning all over the place

        So that’s about Spain 1996. but again, main point is that facts don’t support your opinion. Schumacher had had many great wet races and very few bad ones. In fact just in Spa alone he had 4 great wet races . Monaco 1997 was great, Silverstone 1998 too, as well as Suzuka 1995, etc. etc. In fact Schumacher won nearly half of the wet weather races he contested until the end of 2006. Anf that’s discounting the wet races when he wiped the floor with everybody and then retired through no fault of his own. As for the bad races, apart from the one you mentioned there was maybe Brazil 2003. Not that he had poor pace but he did crash at turn 3 river along with 6 other drivers some of them wet weather specialists like himself. And apart from that… nothing. But I’ll happily concede the argument should you provide facts that prove your opinion

  3. It’s not just dealing with water though, a typhoon (or hurricane if you are from the Western Hemisphere) could cause structural damage and wreckage due to the high winds.

    1. By the time the race is scheduled, the eye should be past Suzuka, but the rain won’t be. So, if everything’s still standing, they should be able to race.

      His point is, with these tyres, they still won’t be.

  4. Amen (although, yeah, a typhoon is a different story)

  5. I guess I will just stay home if it rains. No need to risk crashing my car into a wall on the way to the store in my Pirelli wets.

  6. No worries. At least there is Bathurst this weekend if the F1 “pinnacle” tires and drivers are not up to scratch :)

  7. Those cars didn’t have the same power or the same torque. People also crashed a lot.

    1. 18 years ago they were using V10s which had the same or more power than now.

      1. Max bhp maybe at some point, but torque? These PUs are immense.

      2. @eljueta, if you’re talking about 18 years ago – in other words, in 2001 – then no, according to figures like Martinello and Illien, the peak power of the V10’s in use at that time was significantly less than the power figures talked about today.

        It’s also worth remembering that, in the early 2000s, the FIA fully legalised traction control systems – mainly because the FIA admitted that, by 2001, pretty much all of the teams were using traction control systems anyway. It’s also worth noting that, in the period that Kimi is talking about, full bi-directional telemetry was legal too, allowing the pit lane to remotely alter the engine maps on the car on behalf of the driver.

        You therefore had a greater degree of external driver aids that were permitted for use in that period, with traction control in particular being particularly useful in very wet and slippery conditions.

        1. Which is okay because the race tracks with gravel run-offs did not forgive driver mistakes back then.

      3. The v10s and to a larger extent the v8s were power over torque engines that needed to be caned to get anywhere. Nowadays the FIA limit is 15k but nobody really goes over 12k because there’s simply not much shove at higher revs any more.

        In terms of specific output we have actual factory data for the 2000 Peugeot engine as used in the Prost AP03. This engine – which while unreliable and in a dodgy car was nonetheless competitive on sheer power compared to the rest – peaked at 792 bhp, or some 200 bhp less than the current PUs make. Thus even on sheer power alone your statement is way off and that is without taking into account the sheer amount of twist generated by the current PUs. Rose-tinted glasses are nice and all but some stuff really is objectively better now, even in F1.

        If you would like to check out the numbers for the old V10s, simply check out the Prost AP03 wiki page.

    2. Cars have gearboxes which convert the torque from the engine to rear wheels based on rpms. Horsepower = torque x rpm. The higher your rpms the lower the torque for given horsepower output. If you look at torque at the rear wheels then there is not any difference between a v10 and hybrid when its computer allows it to output all of the electric power. A turbo hybrid engine however revs a lot lower which means at the engine end its torque is higher than the one of the v10 but the v10 revs a lot higher. At the rear wheels there is not much difference. And in the end the only thing you care about is power and torque at the rear wheels.

      Usually through when people say torque they don’t quite understand what they mean. They could mean the peak number or the usable torque range of the engine. Any naturally aspirated engine has a comparatively narrow rpm range which means things only happen at the higher revs. But even then engine size also makes a difference. The 3 liter v10s had relatively wide torque band (for single seater engine) and if you look at some of the onboards from the era you can see drivers pulling out of corners with relatively high gear because the engine has enough torque at little lower rpms. Of course the cars were a lot lighter as well because v10 weighs almost 100kg less than the current engines. The bigger displacement engine also allowed the engineers to sacrifice some ultimate peak power for drivability and wider torque band because the lap time gains were bigger by having little wider torque band than having higher peak number. The 2.4 liter v8s had narrower torque band which meant they needed to stay on much narrower rpm range to keep moving and similarly the engines. And similarly the even earlier 3.5 liter units had even wider torque band.

      However the issues of the torque mainly come to play when we look at the design of clutches, gearboxes, rear differentials and driveshafts. These are rated for certain amount of torque Rpm is not meaningless but matters a lot less. So the lower revving but higher torqueing enigne you have the beefier drivetrain you need. But at the rear tires only thing that matters is the weight of the car, suspension and downforce. The more grip you have the more torque you can manage without spinning the rear tires and modern f1 cars have several magnitudes more weight, rubber and downforce at the rear wheels than any of the v10 cars which gives it a big traction advantage but also allows it to put torque though the contact patch simply because it has so much more traction. But the engine torque number doesn’t change anything for the worse for the current engines. The turbos have no lag because they use the electrics to counter it, there are no dips and unevennesses in the torque plot because the electrics add power to make it butter smooth. V10 may have had basic traction control but it was not butter smooth like the current engines.

  8. Hmmm… when the full-wet-tyres were better, the next limit used to be cars swimming on that weird wooden plank and the flat, closed floor. Anyone knows what impact the 2021-rules would have on that?

  9. It may look pathetic to see them not out on track in very wet conditions but at the same time it doesn’t really look much better if you send them out in conditions that are too bad & you then have most the grid flying off the track.

    People always go back & say ‘they used to race in very wet conditions in the past’ which is true but go back & watch some of those extreme wet races & you see that they were actually not really that good.

    For instance people always talk about Spa 1998 & view it as this fantastic, crazy race. But conditions were so bad that day that there wasn’t actually any racing going on. Cars got spread out very quickly due to the spray & it turned into a battle of survival due to how high the risk of aquaplaning was even on the straights. That was a miserable race that wouldn’t be remembered at all if most the field hadn’t crashed at the start & if there hadn’t been a popular winner.

    It’s similar with races like Adelaide 1989, That wasn’t a good race & is only really remembered because in zero viability Senna drove into the back of Brundle.

    1. I enjoy watching them try and control the beasts in the wet regardless. F1 isn’t just about ‘racing’… I’m aghast @gt-racer… the first comment of yours I don’t agree with!!

      1. @john-h I do as well, My (Perhaps badly made) point was that i’ve always felt that there is a point when it goes from been fun to watch them trying to control the cars in wet conditions to no longer been fun when conditions get so bad that it’s more of a lottery than a challenge of actual driver skill.

        When you have situations where conditions are so bad that cars are spinning while going in a straight line or running into each other in a straight line because they can’t see more than 5m ahead of them I just don’t find that fun because your not really racing or testing drivers skill at that point, It’s purely about luck.

      2. It is great to see the drivers struggle in difficult conditions but there is also a luck factor in it when the conditions get really bad. All you need is aquaplaning at some part of the track and you either go straight through it, have a small moment or just slide into the wall.

    2. @gt-racer
      I do enjoy watching those old wet races, though I’d say Spain 96 was better then the two mentioned by you. The reason being (and that’s where we have some agreement) that it did not feature too much aquaplaning on the straights, but it was wet enough and the gravel traps were deep enough for any corner being an adventure. A constant underlying risk of retirement can well replace overtakes, and it’s a good form of suspense when you do not know whether a driver will make the next turn or not. Now in order for it to be about varying grip levels in corners rather than random aquaplaning, you’d need tyres that do not aquaplane that easily.

      Furthermore: F1 racing in a narrow window of conditions, facilitated by samey tracks adapted to fit the cars rather than cars built to race a variety of tracks, as well as the race calendar following the sun rather than maximizing the variety of available climatic conditions (for whatever fully wrong reason) is another key point that makes F1 ever more predictable.

      And then there is the sheer atmosphere that the grainy and darkish pictures and the fountains of spray provide, best to be consumed at 4am on a Sunday morning and with a sleeping city behind the window that is besides the screen. But then again, they also changed the start-times to a point where it seems like I can never watch an F1 race live again while it’s dark outside.

  10. But… but… tyres are build according to “specification agreed with Teams”.

    Clearly Pirelli can’t be blamed for yet another mess up!

    P.S Frankly, I don’t understand why Pirelli continues… to make that god awful product, hear so many complaints over YEARS, and being unable to do anything…
    I am not planning to have a car, but if I do one day have one, I know exactly which tyres it will NOT have. Ever.

    1. Whenever the FIA says something is “agreed with Teams” you know it’s a lie.

    2. @dallein Teams were given Hobson’s choice on the tyres…

  11. @dallein They were asked to create dry compounds that had increased degredation (Although that request was ended after 2016) but have never been told to do anything with the intermediate or wet compounds other than make the best product they are capable of.

  12. Jup the days when men were men and women were glad of it.

    The days when sex was safe and motosport was dangeorus.

    The days when tires had groves that cleared standing water.

    Now tires are set for situation that never arrises. The moment it is really wet they just bring out red flags due to visability.

    And the moment race is restarted conditions are almost good for Inters.

    I’m going to youtube now to watch some awesome wet F1 moments.

    1. First three lines are so good they’re almost Bob Dylan…

    2. I mean… Sex was never safe, men being men meant ignoring the wart until it turned into drooling madness, and 9 (by which I mean 2) women were also infected, for which they were or grateful.

      I agree with the bit about racing though (and the above is merely in jest, some gentle urine extraction, have no fears)

      1. *For which they were not grateful … I dislike phone keyboards. Back in the days when headphone ports were universal and Bluetooth was a bandit….

  13. Maybe this time of year isn’t best for Japanese GP?

  14. In the races, yeah, it’s just annoying that they don’t race. In practice though, it’s not necessarily that the teams don’t want to put the cars on track, it’s that they don’t want to use the tyres. If it rains all weekends, 3 sets of inters and 3 wets isn’t really enough. I dunno if they can take more though, considering the costs etc …

  15. It’s always a tall order with tyres this wide. Maybe they should introduce narrow wet tyres, less prone to aquaplaning.

    But it’s true that since the Pirelli days, tyre performance in the wet has gone completely. Fuji 2007 was ridiculous and we still had a race. Watching that last lap battle between Massa and Kubica, no way that’s be possible these days.

  16. When was the last time a race was cancelled for rain? I can’t recall an instance of this in our current era.

    This storm isn’t just about rain, there are also high-wind conditions (100+ mph) expected which could possibly damage facilities necessary to run the race. They call it a typhoon there, around these parts it’s a hurricane. I wouldn’t expect any other sport to go on during a hurricane and I sure wouldn’t attend one.

    1. @knewman I don’t think a race has ever been 100% cancelled for rain. In fact, the only weather-based 100% cancellation was Belgium 1985… …because it was so hot the brand-new track surface melted. Incidentally this is why we go to Belgium in August/September instead of May – the replacement slot was early September because that was the next mutually convenient slot.

      1. Fascinating!

  17. I picture Kimi in the eye of the storm, calmly eating an icecream..

  18. Unfortunately in F1 there’s no provision for or room to cancel a race and move it to the next available weekend or even delay it for a day or two.

    That being the case, it’s realistic to accept that a race could and should be cancelled if conditions are simply not safe. It’s OK to say that “the can always drive slower” but F1 cars require a certain speed in order for brakes, downforce etc to be effective so there would be a point where slower means cars would just slip straight off the track.

    It would of course be disappointing for fans and a financial disaster for organisers, although one would think there’s probably insurance coverage for them, but I for one would be OK if in rare circumstances like these the race was cancelled, rather than watch carnage followed by a red flag(s).

  19. Important to remember that for Kimi’s first stint in F1 he raced with grooved dry tyres. They had a better tolerance of slightly damp tracks than full slicks. So the intermediate was pushed closed to a modern day full wet and a full wet was supplied to handle very wet conditions. That led to 3 compounds being able to cover a wider variation of track conditions than can be accommodated now.

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