Tyres not the reason for little running – Fernley

2012 British Grand Prix

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Force India deputy team principal Robert Fernley said his team’s limited running in practice was not limited because of a need to save tyres.

Today’s two rain-hit sessions saw all of the teams cut back their normal Friday programmes. The two VJM05s completed a total of 28 laps in three hours.

Speaking in today’s press conference Fernley said he felt “terrible guilt” that his team were “not out there running for the spectators”.

He said the limited running was out of a desire not to damage their cars on a weekend when they have brought a raft of upgrades: “On other hand we don’t gain anything from it.

“With all due respect even if we’d had the tyres we wouldn’t have run because the risk-to-reward was the wrong ratio for us. And it was more of a cautious programme than it is by taking unnecessary risks.”

Fernley added his sympathy for the many fans who were stuck in traffic jams unable to get to the track: “What happened in terms of them being able to get into the circuit obviously I’m not aware of because I didn’t even know there was a problem, to be honest with you, we’ve just been working ourselves.

“So if they have had problems obviously we sympathise with them and I’m sure that’s something to do with traffic management or circuit or something like that that needs to be resolved.

“It’s not something for the teams, the teams can only try and put the cars out on the circuit and give the spectacle. And I regret today we couldn’t do that.

“As I say it’s more to do with, our side that’s more to do with the risk and the benefit and are we going to learn anything? And until the last half hour of today there wasn’t any benefit in running.”

Lotus technical director James Allison added: “I think it’s a shame they didn’t see as much as they hope to come and see but that’s British weather for you.

“Considering how crap the conditions were today there was actually a reasonable amount of running on the track. More than maybe you might have anticipated given the forecast this morning. But it would have been nicer if there’d been more had the weather been better.”

2012 British Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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29 comments on “Tyres not the reason for little running – Fernley”

  1. Its time the sport really had a look at what adaptations could be made to an F1 car to enable it to run in wet conditions.

    Like most fans I am not capable of designing or driving an F1 car but if I can drive my car in these kind of conditions it is unacceptable for paying spectators (or viewers who have subscribed to sky etc) to be treated like this. In cricket you would get a refund. Having a refund forced by the FIA if races were delayed might encourage tracks to improve drainage.

    So what could be done to a car after a race or qualifying session etc is officially determined as WET ? Some suggestions – anyone else got any more?
    – adding weights to cars (to compensate for a lack of downforce) – I know this would have knock on effects on performance/economy.
    – increasing ride height? would this help?

    1. Increasing ride height would probably help quite a bit, considering it would reduce the risk of aqua-planing. It would probably effect the aerodynamics quite a lot as well, but that’s just something that the teams would have to deal with. Perhaps more tyres as well? Currently we have inters and ‘extreme’ wets, but considering that they can’t always disperse the water as well as you’d think, perhaps the ‘extreme’ wets that we currently have can be re-named wet tyres, and then create a new tyre, which can handle worse conditions?

      I’m sure there is more that can be done :)

    2. It’s racing, and any racing car would have struggled in these conditions. We saw the GP2 guys struggling today, I’ve seen touring cars aquaplane in similar conditions. Heck, I’ve seen bike races red flagged because of the wet conditions. Put it this way, would you like to drive a Ferrari 458 in the pouring rain at 160 mph? It’s even worse for them.

      It’s frustrating for the fans, but to blame the track is just wrong. What can they do? The drainage on modern circuits is as good as it gets when you consider they’re not crowned like normal streets, and forcing them to refund spectators would merely force prices up for the majority of events.

      In short, it happens, and we just have to live with it.

    3. Everyone knows practice means nothing, basically, so I don’t see why people should get a refund or whatever if teams decide not to run on fridays. The Grand Prix will still have place, so will qualifying, and teams will run there, no matter how flooded the track is.

      And if it is suspended, then it’ll be because it’s impossible to race there, and people would get a refound, but on a friday? come on… it’s like asking money because you forgot your umbrella and you got too wet. I don’t think people get a refound at Wimbledon if the matches are suspended, which almost always happen.

      Forcing teams to go out and struggle it’s just ridiculous. It’s part of life for rain to happen… it’s not like they didn’t show practice on the telly because there was something better on. It was just the rain happening. What can you do?

    4. Carlito's way
      6th July 2012, 19:54

      Gosh some people do talk rubbish. Any race category would have struggled to run in this weather. A lot of people on this website have this holier than thou attitude where they must get whatever they think they are entitled to. Its so annoying, get a grip on reality!

    5. Stop global warming! :)

    6. No way. Like the article says it really is a huge, huge risk for the teams. You would run the risk of taking cars and drivers out of the race entirely. The cars are inherently designed to run at high-speed at they spend most of their time doing so. You may only have 2 out of 20 races a year where the rain is so bad.

      I think most fans respect that it’s part of motorsport.

      1. I agree. And heck, in the end, when you buy a ticket to a practice session, part of the risk in that ticket is that the teams might not even run at all!

        In which case, tough luck.
        If it’s like the 2006 US GP, that’s different. But you can’t expect the teams to run when it’s not in their interests. And I don’t think any amount of modifications to allow wet weather running can change that.

    7. Here is an interesting idea, teams have wet tyres and wet weather setups, they should be allowed by the rules, that if a race is declared wet, they can use wet weather frontwings. They would have other rules then the dry FWs, and their main objects would be to generate mutch more downforce and to get rid of the water on the track.

      1. @bag0 are you serious?

        1. @fer-no65 Yes, why not? They already have other set of rules for wet weather tyres, i.e. no DRS, no mandatory change. Why cant the teams change other elements of the car, that is built for heavy rain? I know it sounds wierd, but 5 years ago noone could imagine the DRS, and yet here we have it. This is just one of my many ideas that will never come true.

          1. because it’d be ridiculous. Not only they’d have to travel with bodyparts that they might not use at all, but also, those bodyparts, built speficially for wet weather, it’s ridiculous.

            Don’t you think they already try to get the highest amount of downforce possible? what makes you think a “wet weather” front wing would be better?

          2. @fer-no65 They do go for the most downforce, but they have boundaries set by the rules, which would not apply for the wwfws. And why is that ridiculous? Bringing wet weather elements to the track would not be different from bringing wet weather tyres or other spare parts. I think it should be allowed by the rules, not being mandatory, just as KERS. And something built for purpose is not ridiculous, putting a can opener on a tablet would be, as the two dont mix together, but bad weather and rain is nothing new to F1.

          3. @bag0 Don’t agree. They don’t have boundaries as to how much downforce a wing should have. They have limits in size and stuff.

            If you think that’s what should be allowed, then it’s also ridiculous. The cars are designed as a package, and the front wing virtually “interacts” with the nose cone, floor, rear end, and rear wing. Having a different size for the front wing, just for wet weather conditions, wouldn’t improve things, and it’d also worthless.

            Wet tyres are needed. Wet weather wings are not. That’s why they shouldn’t carry extra bits that they might not use, because the dry weather wing works just fine.

            It’s not gonna happen anyway, so we could discuss about it forever, not come to an agreement and it’d not mean much LOL :P.


          4. @fer-no65

            It’s not gonna happen anyway, so we could discuss about it forever, not come to an agreement and it’d not mean much

            I think we can agree on that :)

          5. @bag0 HURRAY! lol :P

    8. You might be a paying spectator, but the teams don’t owe you anything. They are under no obligation to do any running at all – least of all if they feel that doing so might damage their cars. If you want your money’s worth, then skip Friday and go on Saturday and Sunday instead.

      The sport can’t go changing its rules and procedures just to cater to a select demographic of fans who a) bought tickets for Friday, and b) were caught out by heavy rain.

  2. Let’s just start with the assumption that F1 cars are the fastest and most technically advanced cars in the planet.

    Yes there will be occasions like Canada 2011, Japan 1976 where things are REALLY wet, but we have seen situations where a decent second hand hot hatch could beat an F1 car round the track.

    Not good enough!

    1. a rally car beats an F1 car on tough roads, so what’s your point?

      Different car, different situations. At their own game, an F1 machine is unstoppable. It’s not designed to work on flooded tracks.

  3. The lack of running is definately not down to the limited number of tyres.
    I say that so confidently because I covered many practice sessions before the restrictions on avaliable sets of wets came in where nobody did much running during a wet practice session.

    Regarding how you can make running in the wet easier, Can’t really be done because as long as you have standing water you will still aquaplane easily regardless of what setup you run or how heavy the car is.

    Aquaplaning isn’t caused by car setup, weight, driver input etc…. Its caused because the tyres are unable to handle the amount of water on the track, The tyre tread basically gets totally filled & its the tyre not the car that gets lifted above the water & starts to aquaplanes.

    The best solution would probably be to bring back the old monsoon tyres that have wider grooves with deeper depths. Goodyear/Bridgestone had these tyres avaliable in 1997-1998, However they were never needed in those years so both companies decided it wasn’t worth the development cost’s to keep developing them & transporting them to each Gp.
    It would be the same problem today, They would be needed so little that Pirelli coudn’t justify the substantial extra cost’s they would introduce.

  4. I don’t think we must about running in practice. I would be more than happy if we had qualifying and race in such full wet conditions. Tired of SC periods :)

  5. we must *worry* about

  6. I don’t think we need to do anything in order to get more Friday running when its wet.
    The only way to ensure more running is to either punish teams for running less then, say 20 laps pr driver, but how good will that look if a driver is ill, or there is major trouble with the car?
    Or hand out points for setting the fastest lap, but that would turn practice into a time trail, which is hardly the point.
    Changing the cars in terms of design, or giving them more tyres wont get them out if they think its too risky.
    And bringing the monsoon type tyres to every race would be incredibly expensive, for very minor gains, if any.
    Of cause better drainage could increase running, but there is only so much they can do given the surrounding environments and I think all the tracks are near as good as it gets in that respect.
    It is what it is, and the people traveling to the races will know that unless they go to Abu Dhabi, there will be a risk of rain.
    Its just practice anyway. Hardly the most exciting or spectacular part of a race weekend.

  7. The monsoon tires that were suggested back in Malaysia ’09 would come in handy now eh.

  8. Yes this is only practice but we still need a better solution. I like the idea of monsoon tyres. I know it will cost cash and as they said on Sky mean carrying more tyres around, but that is a small problem for the f1 industry compared to the 1000s of fans struggling with parking in the wet fields of Silverstone or the tedious wait for millions of fans when a wet race is delayed or started behind a tedious safety car.

    1. I certainly hate seeing races being red-flagged. Malaysia 09 was bad, mostly because of low light levels. But Canada 11 and Malaysia 12 shouldn’t have been stopped. Drivers gotta have the balls to race in those conditions. Even if it means travelling at 52 mph. The bravest wins. To help, monsoon tyres would be good.

  9. It is unfortunate for the fans but I think any fan who knows and respects the sport well enough will understand the teams decision. I’m sure they would rather have 24 drivers on Sunday than be missing a handful due to unnecessary risk on the Friday.

    Fans are important, but so is delivering results.

    1. @andrewtanner Yup, you’d think we brits would be used to things being called off due to rain by now.

      Practice sessions aren’t there for spectators in any case, I would be interested in what the situation is if the race gets red flagged early or cancelled entirely though.

  10. I feel sorry for the fans paying to watch practice sessions then seeing no action due to rain, but unfortunately that’s motor sport. Perhaps there’s scope for refunds or partial refunds depending on just how much running is lost due to the weather like I think is the case for international cricket.

    The only solution I can see would be to bring 2 or even just 1 set of monsoon tyres per car to each race. However that entails large costs to develop and transport the tyres around the world perhaps for 3 or 4 sessions a season. Though even then there’s still the risk that teams won’t want to risk running in the wet when the risk of crashing is higher and they have relatively little to gain. I also don’t think it’d be fair to force teams to do a certain amount of laps per practice session so I think we’ll just have to stick with the current situation.

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