Ecclestone: ‘No-one expected this much rain’

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In the round-up: Bernie Ecclestone says Silverstone could not have foreseen this year’s exceptionally high rainfall.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Organisers helpless – Ecclestone (BBC)

“I’m really, really upset for the fans, but in reality if it was you running the race what would you do? […] Honestly I don’t think anyone expected the amount of rain we had.”

Silverstone invokes “Dunkirk spirit” after rain chaos (Reuters)

Silverstone managing director Richard Phillips: “A remarkable number of people actually got here somehow, I’m not quite sure how… and we are very grateful to the people who did stay at home. At least it’s given us breathing space now and we are looking forward to tomorrow.”

Organisers upbeat despite 4m cost threat (The Telegraph)

“The chaotic scenes of Friday, which saw thousands of race fans stuck in all-day traffic jams on the A43 as car parks and campsites groaned under the deluge of rainwater, was estimated in some quarters yesterday to have cost Silverstone, or at least its insurers, 4 million.”

Jason Plato via Twitter

“Getting so pissed off with the media reporting style. Silverstone have worked so hard to overcome the hideous weather that we have.”

British GP – Conference 3 (FIA)

Fernando Alonso: “It was very big and you are not in control of the car. You need a bit of luck and we were lucky today. With that moment in Q2, with all the decisions that we make for the tyres that it was the right one – and lucky also that we put the lap together and lucky as well in the distance with Mark because there were some milliseconds. It can be first and second in a very easy way and today it was everything perfect for us.”

Hamilton says eighth was the maximum (Autosport)

“[Ferrari] won the last race, and have been good on their intermediates. For some reason they can switch them on and we didn’t.”

He’s 81 and 5ft 3in but Ecclestone is still motorsport’s Mr Big (Daily Mail)

“[CVC chief executive] Donald [MacKenzie] is happy about me doing what I do. But what to do when I’m gone is a concern for him. If I’m dead or if I run away, he’ll obviously need to sort out some kind of succession.”

‘If you said to me all the drivers are free, I’d say: Send in Lewis’ (The Guardian)

Frank Williams: “For the next 17 years, every Williams car carried the letter “S” in tribute to Ayrton Senna. This season, as Williams says with a tangled smile, ‘we’ve dropped that. It’s time. And, also, we’ve now got Bruno.'”

Ferrari F2012 – new front wing (F1)

“The shape is much more sophisticated and features four vertical gills instead of the usual three. However, when driver Fernando Alonso damaged one of the new front wings during his Practice Two crash, the team decided to revert back to the older solution for qualifying and the race.”

Lotus F1 owner eyes ??500m football deals (FT, registration required)

“Gerard Lopez and Eric Lux, whose private equity fund Genii Capital acquired the old Renault F1 team in 2009, have set their sights on about five second-tier European clubs as well as a dozen football-related businesses such as player agencies, academies and media rights management companies.”

Red Bull’s Mark Webber on his Norfolk racing roots (Eastern Daily Press)

“[Snetterton] actually played quite a large role in my career. I tested and raced there in Formula Ford and Formula Three and I even used it to shake down my F3000 car as the team I was racing for, Super Nova, were based locally. It was also the first track outside of Australia I drove on.”

Bob Constanduros via Twitter

“Did you watch GP2? New podium and revised ceremony with [Bob Constanduros] asking drivers questions. Probably the same in F1 tomorrow.”

Jennie Gow via Twitter

“I wonder if Michael Schumacher will sleep well or be forced to book into an hotel? ??Naughty loud campers ??;)”

Comment of the day

Simon999 on the variances in performance during yesterday’s wet qualifying:

Interesting how some cars seemed to perform much better on full wets than intermediates and vice-versa. Not sure if any of it was down to lack of fresh tyres, but Hamilton got a mighty lap out of the full wets at the end of Q2 and then struggled on the inters in Q3 (as did both McLarens during Q1 – 14th and 18th?).

Other drivers, like Alonso, were the opposite – scraping through Q2 on the full wets and then a great lap for pole in Q3. Maybe it’s down to these narrow operating windows we keep hearing about.

From the forum

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On this day in F1

Dan Gurney became the fourth different winner in as many races at the start of the 1962 season in the French Grand Prix at Rouen-les-Essarts. He scored Porsche’s first and so far only win in F1. Read more about it here:

Graham Hill led most of the way until lap 41, when he began to suffer with a fuel injection problem.

Here’s an introduction to the race with some very British narration:

Image © Williams/LAT

Author information

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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52 comments on “Ecclestone: ‘No-one expected this much rain’”

  1. Rouen was such an awesome track. You plunged downhill very steeply at Six Fréres & Co. and you suddenly got Nouveau Monde in your face. Exceptional.

    1. Everytime I hear “Rouen”, I remember this:

      1. Wow, so cool. I guess the man was relieved to get the chance to drive the cars and tracks of his youth. His handling is awesome. All the more so by considering just how hard GPL is to drive.

    2. I loved the Rouen track in Grand Prix Legends, but the number of times I arrived at that hairpin backwards…

      What a great film, so much atmosphere, brings all those drivers and cars to life. I was pleased to find it ends with a link to part 2 which shows the rest of the race.

      Superb Frank Williams interview, too – “his eyes glitter more with a devilish desire to attract drivers of Hamilton’s calibre again.” A much better job than the Mail’s Bernie one.

  2. So Willliams wont have the Senna S on the front wing anymore?

    1. @kcampos12 I really hope he didn’t mean that. In my eyes, the Senna logo has become as much a part of the Williams team as Patrick Head and Frank Williams himself.

    2. No, they’ll put it somewhere that is less likely to get destroyed when Senna crashes.

    3. I hadn’t noticed its absence this year. I’m not generally superstitious, but it’s interesting that they’ve removed it and now had a reversal of fortunes for the better, compared to the last decade.

    4. If you embiggen the photo accompanying the article you’ll see the Senna “S” on the front wing support.

    5. @kcampos12 @scuderiavincero @prisoner-monkeys @us_peter

      The Guardian have now changed the story to say the Senna ‘S’ isn’t being removed:

      Williams not getting rid of the Senna ’S’ on their car

      1. @keithcollantine Certainly a relief then, good to know The Guardian is professional enough to admit their mistake.

        1. @scuderiavincero As someone who has plenty of experience making mistakes, I agree!

          1. @keithcollantine In your case, I wouldn’t call it a mistake. I’d call it a “Murray”

      2. @keithcollantine Thats great to hear

  3. I have generally been dismayed by some fans reactions on radio and TV to the flooding at Silverstone. Some reacted as if it was the most disgusting, devastating event that had ever happened to them and were bemoaning the “hardship they faced” in not knowing whether to go or not or the fact they had to queue all morning. Some were incredulous that Silverstone had not given them up to date information immediately. Don’t get me wrong there is nothing wrong with venting a bit of disappointment or frustration, but some were reacting as if their lives had been ruined. They could not comprehend that it was a result of unpredictable nature and geography. We have had one month’s rain in 24hrs and that these things happen.
    Whilst they were in moaning is disbelief at the day’s events, people in the rest of the country were being flooded out of their homes and villages, including some who had died.

    Sorry I had to vent too but some people really need some perspective.

    1. you are right. but at the end of the day millions has been spent on silverstone and in all the wrong places. basics well overlooked.

      but dont worry there is a new funky pit lane with plenty of conference rooms….but dont take your car if its raining.

      i went there for renault world series day last year. and to be honest its a bit of a dump im sad to say. Give me brands hatch for a day out anyday.

      also look at the track, the drainage its appalling compared to other circuits. why move the pit lane and build a big building for corporate guys who probably have no idea who fernando alonso is but not have a circuit that drain water.

      yes there are bigger problems in the world. but F1 is stupidly expensive so people are right to be annoyed. Yes its rained but we have seen worse rain for WSBK at brands….and that held 120,000 fans.

      1. I agree with your point regarding the development of Silverstone and that people have a right to be annoyed.
        I would totally agree with them if this had been a localised storm and that moderate rain had caused this.
        But people should be able to have some perspective see that this is a one off (hopefully) in terms of the amount of rainfall we have had in such a short period across the country.
        I did not intend to make it sound like a “there are worse things in the world argument”. It’s just a common sense argument. It is horrible unpredictable weather, and this is an unfortunate result.

        1. people should be able to have some perspective see that this is a one off (hopefully) in terms of the amount of rainfall we have had in such a short period across the country.

          I agree. Money is spent where they predict they will need it. Organisers are not going to spend millions to prevent rare occurrences from affecting the event. It was a shame that they were never going to be able to accommodate everyone yesterday, but at the end of the day, people who wanted to make sure they got in (like us) just made sure they arrived early.

        2. People seem to love to moan about Silverstone and the traffic, however these were exceptional circumstances, we have had so much rain in the last few weeks that the ground just can not cope. People that moan about silverstone should really go to Spa! Then think again about moaning…. I have been there twice, fantastic circuit with great views of the track but my god the traffic is appalling and the facilities are pretty much non-existant, if you want the toilet you need to pay to go to a stinky portaloo, or stand on the edge of a muddy ditch…… The parking is terrible, the signs getting to the circuit are pretty useless and the place is a mudbath! We were stuck on a shuttle bus for over an hour the one year and had moved around 100 meters so we got off and walked the 2 miles to the car instead, in the pouring rain. I still love Spa, but it puts things into perspective when people moan about silverstone…..

      2. millions has been spent on silverstone and in all the wrong places. basics well overlooked.

        I’m waiting on your quote that showed you of course thought of this long ago.

        Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

        1. I’m waiting on your quote that showed you of course thought of this long ago.

          And as the commentators pointed out, the water table is already pretty high.

          What we saw at Silverstone wasn’t some freak rain storm that washed out the circuit. The area has been receiving high rainfall all week; parts of the Midlands reported receiving a month’s rainfall in two days before the Grand Prix.

          Water doesn’t just drain off the circuit – it has to go somewhere. And that somewhere is the water table. Water seeps down into the earth, where it joins with more bodies of water, and eventually flows out towards a river, which carries the water away. There’s a few creeks and gullies near the circuit that carry water away, but the nearest bodies of water that could reasonably be called rivers are the River Tove at Towcester, some seven kilometres away; and the River Great Ouse, which runs through Buckingham, some eight kilometres away – and the Tove flows into the Great Ouse about ten kilometres downstream from the circuit. To make matters worse, the land in the area is pretty flat, which means that it has a very large catchment area. All of the water that falls in that region makes for the Great Ouse system. The net effect that it is very, very slow for the water to drain away once it reaches the water table.

          So after a week of heavy rain, the water table around Silverstone was already very full. So full, in fact, that no more water could enter it. And so it sat on or just beneath the surface, waiting for the water table to drain into the nearby creeks and feed out into the Great Ouse and Tove. So it doesn’t matter how good the drainage around Silverstone is – the water literally had nowhere to go.

          Therefore, it’s fair unfair of you to criticise the circuit for “overlooking the basics”.

          1. And as the commentators pointed out, the water table is already pretty high.

            It may well be, but according to my water company it still hasn’t got through to the chalk aquifer. And despite living 45mins from Silverstone I actually have a hose-pipe ban still in place. Not that I need to use a hose pipe on my garden.

        2. @mike hindsight is not required when you have foresight. As business people/investors should know, you need to spend money to make money. You don’t build a world class facility and “forget” to allocate sufficient car parking, only inexperience and creates these situations. Poor decisions lead poor results, unfortunate weather yes, unfortunate loss no.

          1. @funkyf1 But they didn’t

            “forget” to allocate sufficient car parking

            , They had sufficient car parking. And then they got absolutely ridiculous amounts of rain and the normally adequate parking areas became unusable.

    2. Truly sad to read on all the improvements to the facilities but little to no money spent on the fans that actually pay top dollar for a “world class” event. Watching the coverage doesn’t look like there much shelter at all for the fans either.
      I really feel for people that have travelled from all around the world to see F1 racing at one of the best circuits in the world. I know a few people that have travelled from Malaysia but were not able to get in yesterday.
      Fair enough that the amount of rain was unforeseen (really, no forecasts in the UK. It had been raining for a month apparently) but frankly that’s not an excuse, many circuits have shuttle buses to avoid this type of congestion. Everyone had to buy tickets somehow, just call or email these people who have purchased these tickets and tell them to go park somewhere else where feasible and FREE bus transport will be available from there. Frankly, it’s a silly idea to have everyone drive directly to the circuit anyway.
      I’ll probably get blasted for my opinion but I don’t see how anyone can defend the organisers.

    3. As far as I can tell the peak rainfall at Milton Keynes yesterday was 7.1mm/hr, which may be a lot for the area, but compared to other parts of the world is absolutely nothing. Thing is other areas of the world that receive rainfall of many magnitudes more than what fell at Silverstone don’t come to a grinding halt every time you get some rain. What I’m trying to say is, maybe the owners of racing circuits should be specifying that the drainage at their circuits (circuit and spectator facilities) is designed to a higher immunity standard than the local authority may require. With properly designed drainage, people would be able enjoy Formula 1 Grand Prix with no delay as a result of 7.1mm/hr of rain. As such, I think people have every right to be annoyed about what happened on Friday and Saturday.

      1. Why would they spend millions on a drainage system to cope with such a rare weather event?

        As other commenters have pointed out, it is the quantity of rain over time that is the main issue. Much of southern England was in drought earlier this year, and on 5 April a hosepipe ban was brought in to address low groundwater and empty reservoirs. Since 5 April we’ve had enough rain (in London at least) to refill the reservoirs and end the hosepipe ban about 6 months early.

        Even though us Brits like to moan about the weather, it’s not normally this bad.

      2. I think people have every right to be annoyed about what happened on Friday and Saturday.

        Of course they do, but even Bernie – a longstanding critic of Silverstone in the wake of the 2000 debacle – is saying there is nothing more the circuit could have done.

      3. That is the same narrow minded argument that is aimed at this country when we have heavy snowfall…. Yes other parts of the world have more rain, many of those places do not have large international sports venues, yes malaysia is one that does but we quite often seen that place washed out too. Also if we had that much rain on a regular basis then you would expect facilities in place to cope with it, however we do not so there is little point in spending the money on coping with a once in a lifetime event. Many places that get more rain than us do not have to cope with freezing conditions and snow, most places that have more snow than us do not have to cope with the possibility of 30 degree heat in summer. Airports in parts of the world like chicago etc that have much more snow than us yet always remain open have the spend the money on equipment as they get that snow all winter every year without fail so to not have it would mean closing the airports for large parts of the year, we could spend millions on making improvements only for the weather event not to happen again for decades, or even centuries!

  4. Mr. Big might be considering doing a runner! that must be good news for the continued running of the BrazilianGP, he will want to see all his buddies at least once a year. :D

    1. @hohum

      Mr. Big might be considering doing a runner!

      He’s not considering “doing a runner”:

      “[CVC chief executive] Donald [MacKenzie] is happy about me doing what I do. But what to do when I’m gone is a concern for him. If I’m dead or if I run away, he’ll obviously need to sort out some kind of succession.”

      Ecclestone is saying that Donald MacKenzie is happy with the work he is doing, and that MacKenzie is happy to let him continue doing it. And most importantly, MacKenzie doesn’t see the need to sort out a replacement for Ecclestone until such time as Ecclestone is no longer in the role.

      1. “or if I run away” he said it, you quoted it, but like a politician you decided to answer a question I did not ask. I think my comment was fair if wry . What makes you such an ardent defender of B.E. are you his secret love-child?

        1. @hohum – Nowhere does Bernie Ecclestone say he is planning on running away. Sure, he said “or if I run away”, but you’re deliberately taking that quote out of context. It’s obvious that Ecclestone is talking about what MacKenzie would have to do if for whatever reason Ecclestone was unable to do his job. Everyone else can see that. You, however, are the only person interpreting it as Ecclestone planning to flee, which he clearly isn’t doing.

          1. @prisoner-monkeys, I don’t think I am taking the quote out of context at all, however I am not taking it as seriously as you are. If I really thought Bernie was planning to emulate Ronald Biggs and flee justice I would not have referred to “Mr. Big”, however if I were in my eighties and had a spare billion or so I might decide that spending the rest of my life in Brazil with my Brazilian lawyer wife protecting me from extradition proceedings was far preferable to spending the rest of my life in a German prison.

  5. Is Monty Python sponsoring the BritishGP.
    Jenson ” Always look on the bright side”
    Bernie ” NOOOOne expects the Spanish inquisition”

    1. Whose car is going to be sick as a parrot?

      1. Maldonado is just a very naughty boy!

        1. While you’re at it, be sure to go down to the Ministry of Silly Pit Stops Walks.

          1. @prisoner-monkeys What, you mean Mclaren?

        2. @mike, you are a prophet, can you give me the winning numbers for the Lotto ?

          1. Sure thing :D 6, 18, 42, wait…. no… 56, or was it 2…..


    2. [Walks into steward’s office]
      Hello, is this the right room for an argument?

  6. Frank Williams: “For the next 17 years, every Williams car carried the letter “S” in tribute to Ayrton Senna. This season, as Williams says with a tangled smile, ‘we’ve dropped that. It’s time. And, also, we’ve now got Bruno.’”

    Yes, but for how long? Senna it yet to make it into Q3 this year, and after his crashes in Valencia and at Silverstone, his average of one major mistake every other race is increasing to the point where he is making a mistake almost at almost every race weekend.

    The cynic in me wonders if Williams have removed the Senna name from their car because they’re about to let Bruno go and don’t want the constant reminder of it.

    1. It isn’t removed, the Senna S is on the front wing pylons. No idea what Frank was on about there.

      1. @pielighter – I wasn’t talking about the Senna logo on the car. I was talking about the Senna in the car, and his horrendous average of one major incident per race weekend.

  7. It was really great to see the teams engaging with us with the Mexican wave. The wave moved down the entire pit lane. It’s certainly something I haven’t seen before. Saturday’s weather was horrendous but it certainly didn’t dampen the spirit of the crowd. The drivers often compliment the fans in Britain and we certainly didn’t disappoint :-D

    1. Yeah – I *almost* wished I was there!

  8. Williams dropped the Senna logo from their cars? I’m pretty sure I saw it this year at some race…

    1. There’s defiantely one on the car in the picture Keith posted in this article.

  9. Clermont Ferrand was always my favourite, mainly thanks to Rindts heroics

  10. Can’t say I agree too much with the comment of the day. The weather was playing it’s predictably unpredictable part. Rain, track drying out, raining again, track sodden, drying out again, then raining again at the end. The conditions were never constant, you just had to be on the right tyre at the right time.

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