After having to cancel the Belgian Grand Prix due to wet weather, the FIA and Formula One are ravenously searching for a solution. Apparently, they are currently elbows deep in a project that will improve the prospects of racing in the rain.
The big thing they are trying to reduce is the amount of spray the cars produce. That’s really what’s causing the major issues as many drivers say that the amount of spray means they are essentially driving blind. It isn’t fun and slippery action when the driver’s speed has to be checked for their own safety. So what are they doing?
F1’s chief technical officer, Pat Symonds, is one of the men responsible in the development of the new 2022 aerodynamic package. Right now, he’s looking into the impact that the new upcoming rules will have on the amount of spray produced.
Ross Brawn, F1’s managing director, said that the study is looking closely at how WEC cars’ enclosed bodywork reduces spray and possibly applying what they learn to F1 cars.
Brawn told motorsport.com, “In terms of rain there’s been some quite interesting work starting to be done now on the spray and the visibility. Pat Symonds and some of the FIA people spoke to some of the drivers in the last couple of races about their experiences at Spa, and their general experiences, particularly drivers who have raced other cars.”
They even got a World Champion’s input according to Brawn, “Fernando [Alonso] was quite interesting because he said the ability to race in the rain is much better in a sportscar than it is in an F1 car. And in some aspects you’d think it might be quite challenging, with a windscreen and the wipers and all the rest of it, but he said the way the spray comes off the car is different.”
The project is indicating that there is at least an initial belief that the new 2022 cars will produce less spray. As Brawn continued, “We’re going to study the spray of the new cars. We have some thoughts that it might be a little bit improved. But it’s definitely something we’re going to look, to see how we change things.
“The two big issues in wet racing are visibility and aquaplaning. The aquaplaning is a challenge for tyres, and beyond a certain point you can’t resolve it.”
Pirelli boss, Mario Isola, did admit that “As far as the tyres are concerned, we can do very little… we are not solving the problem, we are probably exacerbating it [the spray]. The old rain tyre could displace 60 litres per second at 300km/h, now we are up to 85 litres.”
However, Brawn is slightly more optimistic about their chances, “…the visibility is maybe something we can improve, and has now entered into our list of things that we’re looking at, and seeing if we can have an influence on and make an improvement.”
Here’s hoping that we can get safer yet more exciting wet races in the future. There are a lot of hopes and expectations on 2022 aren’t there?
In other F1 news, Toto Wolff weighed in on the title fight, calling both Verstappen and Hamilton “Gladiators in their Machines.”