Verstappen Believes Treating F1 Rain Conditions Like NASCAR Would Be Regrettable

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The hazards associated with single-seater racing under rainy conditions were underscored by the fatal crash involving Formula Regional racer Dilano van ‘t Hoff last month at Spa, where the restricted visibility during the rain was a significant factor in the multi-vehicle collision that led to the tragic demise of the Dutch racer.

The Belgian Grand Prix’s Saturday sprint was also adversely impacted by rain, cutting down to only 11 laps after five preliminary laps behind the safety car in a bid to eliminate standing water and minimize spray.

Despite these efforts, Alpine’s Pierre Gasly, who secured third place, considered the conditions to be unfit for racing, claiming he “could not see anything” with merely two cars in front of him.

As per the perspective of Red Bull driver Verstappen, the sprint and Sunday’s grand prix winner, visibility issues will persist during wet weather conditions, regardless of whether the FIA successfully introduces wheel covers or so-called spray guards that are currently under testing at Silverstone.

“Solving these issues is extremely challenging. You will always be confronted with them, and spray will always be a problem,” Verstappen remarked after Saturday’s sprint.

“Wheel covers on a Formula 1 car won’t bring about significant changes. The safety car also produced too much spray in my direction. The same problem is evident even on highways.”

In response to a query from F1 regarding any possible measures to ensure F1 racing can proceed in the rain, Verstappen said, “When I was a Formula 3 driver and was in the middle of the pack at times, visibility was also nil.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB19, Oscar Piastri, McLaren MCL60, Carlos Sainz, Ferrari SF-23

Photo by: Andy Hone / F1 Flow Images

“It’s always been the case. Even the veteran F1 drivers would corroborate, they faced similar visibility issues.

“Undeniably, certain accidents occur with severe consequences, and thus, it becomes a topic of wider discussion. But if we approach it from that perspective, racing in the rain would become virtually impossible due to consistent visibility problems.

“That would be regrettable. It would then resemble NASCAR, which also refrains from rain racing,” Verstappen noted, referring to NASCAR’s disinclination to race under wet conditions on high-speed ovals, though it has begun trialing rain tyres to facilitate damp conditions racing on some of the smaller ovals.

The US series also conducts races on road circuits in wet conditions, albeit at significantly lower speeds compared to F1 vehicles.

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Mercedes boss Toto Wolff concurred with Verstappen regarding the limited potential of wheel covers to enhance visibility but suggested that different tarmac types that can alter water dispersion might be worth investigating.

“We all believe that it would be beneficial for safety and racing if cars could follow more closely in the rain.

“But, at the same time, we must acknowledge the physical constraints. If there’s rain on the track and we have a floor, a diffuser, and tyres that continually produce large sprays, I doubt we’ll ever completely eliminate it.

“Possible optimization of tarmacs at certain tracks could be explored, a prospect we haven’t considered yet.

“But unquestionably, we know what our goal is – to facilitate closer racing in the rain, while admitting that perfect conditions will never be achievable.”

Additional reporting by Jonathan Noble

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Sure, how else can I assist you today?

What happened at the Formula Regional race last month at Spa?

A fatal accident occurred at the Formula Regional race last month at Spa. Dutch racer Dilano van ‘t Hoff lost his life in a multi-vehicle collision caused by poor visibility in the rain.

What was the effect of rain on the Belgian Grand Prix’s Saturday sprint?

The rain caused the Belgian Grand Prix’s Saturday sprint to be shortened to 11 laps, following five formation laps behind the safety car, in an effort to clear standing water and reduce spray.

What is Pierre Gasly’s opinion on racing in the rain?

Pierre Gasly, who finished third in the rain-affected sprint, found the conditions unsafe for racing. He mentioned that he “couldn’t see a thing” even with just two cars ahead of him.

What are the FIA’s proposed solutions to improve visibility during wet races?

The FIA has been testing wheel covers or so-called spray guards at Silverstone as potential solutions to improve visibility during wet races.

What is Max Verstappen’s viewpoint on racing in the rain?

Max Verstappen, the Red Bull driver, believes that visibility problems will always be a factor in wet weather conditions, even if the FIA successfully implements measures such as wheel covers or spray guards. He also indicated that treating F1 rain conditions like NASCAR would be regrettable.

How does NASCAR handle rain conditions?

NASCAR typically avoids racing in the rain, particularly on high-speed ovals. However, the series has started experimenting with wet weather oval tyres to enable racing in damp conditions on some of the shorter ovals. NASCAR also races on road courses in wet conditions, but at much lower speeds than F1 cars.

What other solutions are suggested to improve visibility during wet races?

Mercedes chief Toto Wolff thinks different types of tarmac that change how water is dispersed could be worth investigating to improve visibility in wet conditions.

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