Robert Kubica, Williams, Hockenheimring, 2019

Kubica: Wet race visibility ‘worse than a night rally through fog’

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In the round-up: Robert Kubica says the visibility at the start of Sunday’s F1 race was worse than racing in the fog at night.

What they say

Kubica was asked how he coped with his first wet F1 race for nine years:

I forgot how a lot of spray there is and how visibility is poor. I thought the night stages in the rally car with fog, and when you are switching off the lights because additional lights are not helping in the fog in the night, is crazy. But at least there you can see and you have pace notes so more or less you know where you are.

Here especially first lap wasn’t easy. I had no clue where I was. I was backing off, everybody was backing off. It was quite a conservative approach.

I struggled a lot with the grip, with keeping the car on the track. But all in all it was I would say a valuable experience.

For sure nine years is a long time but still I think in these conditions often it’s a lot about keeping your head down and staying calm and although a lot of cars were fast than us, or most of them, or even all, still you have to drive to your limits, not to what you see around you.

Quotes: Dieter Rencken

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Comment of the day

The German Grand Prix was yet another missed opportunity for Nico Hulkenberg:

This was sad to watch and he’s not the only one who felt the pain. He was very unfortunate to crash there but almost all drivers crashed yesterday including Lewis, Max, and Kimi so there was probably no way to avoid a crash for any driver. It was just a matter of luck.

His car was twitching in some shots and the Renaults seem to be hard to drive in general (neither driver is shining with the car and they are both very talented) so getting on the podium yesterday in a Renault may have been twice as hard as a Racing Point.

Nonetheless when you get a chance, you have to grab it especially if it’s right before silly season.

Now people think that Vettel, Stroll, and Kvyat are doing great because they were on the podium… A few laps before Hulkenberg, Albon, and Sainz looked much better than that trio.

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On this day in F1

  • 30 years ago today Ayrton Senna won at the Hockenheimring as both McLaren drivers suffered slow pit stops and a gearbox glitch cost Alain Prost the lead

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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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34 comments on “Kubica: Wet race visibility ‘worse than a night rally through fog’”

  1. Off piste; Just watched the highlights of Hockenheim and feel compelled to ask again ” why are slower lap times with the cars on the edge of the limits of the tyres grip such a no-no”? Obviously we don’t want that sort of crashfest every race, nor do we want artificial gimmicks like sprinklers, but we could have the cars closer to the edge of the limits of grip every race to a greater or lesser degree if we only encouraged harder tyres that could do a full race distance with only a small and linear drop off in performance. Yes, the lap times, but not the race time, would increase slightly, but they were all slow laps at Hock. and nobody complained about it. Please open your mind to the possibility of races where a pit stop is something no team wants to have to do.

    1. For a driver, I guess, the real trick is to adapt yourself to a circuit with multiple and variable grip levels rather than a consistent low grip track.

      If the car behaves consistently, the teams can adapt to it pretty quickly.

    2. @hohum
      Even in lower and slower series (GP2, GP3, FE) you dont see cars with the power to grip ratio they had this weekend so it has absolutely nothing to do with laptimes.

      1. @rethla, exactly my point, power should be able to overcome traction as should inertia if the driver does not drive it with skill. But yes, lap times will suffer compared to gumball high-deg tyres times, but who cares as long as the racing is better.

        1. The power can overcome grip but it toasts the tyres so it’s a bad way to drive

  2. For COTD – Max didnt crash and Stroll did not get a podium.

    How did that become COTD…

    1. and when or where did Kimi crash? I genuinely can’t remember @autor of COTD with no name

      1. @alfa145
        Max and Kimi spun but far from walls and barely off track.

    2. Only on a site where CotD is not the most noteworthy comment, but merely the one that gets most new comments (reuse and recycle as I believe @jimmi-cynic called it).

  3. I remember looking at one of the RBR Pitstops thinking that there was no way they actually got the wheel nut on properly on the right rear- looked like the gun went all of a quarter turn it spent so little time near the wheel. Was expecting Max to have to pull over with a loose wheel.

    Must be some really expensive work going into their wheel nuts and guns.

    1. They are not cheap thats for sure. You just need to press it in once and then you can trust the hardware because its faster than you will ever be.

  4. I get it that F1 feels the need to be the best and fastest of everything in the world of motorsport, but these lightening quick pit stops really don’t do much for me. I’d rather see one guy per wheel, a couple of jack men, and maybe a 5-7 second stop where you can actually see what is happening. It wouldn’t affect the actual racing at all, and with less need for absolute perfect choreography among so many people, the stops might even be safer as well.

    1. Its coming in the 2021 regulations, Mercedes was practicing it this weekend.

      1. @rethla – I’m confused. I thought they were demonstrating pitstops as they happened 125 years ago. That’s why they were in period costumes, weren’t they?

        1. @phylyp: Zing! ;-)

    2. While I’d definitely advocate anything to improve safety in the pitlane (e.g. my comments moaning about the Leclerc-Grosjean incident!), I’d disagree with the other part.

      In my opinion, the synchronized ballet* that goes on in a pit stop is one of those things that appeals to me, and is something that sets F1 apart from other series. The high-tech nature of the equipment used in that stop is also something that adds to the coolness factor. It’s also a small competition that I have with myself to see if I can spot something going wrong in real-time during a pit stop, although more often than not I have to see it on replay.

      There are other series that use one person per wheel, or one individual running around with a jerrycan of fuel. To those who prefer that, those series are there for viewing alongside F1. Let’s keep the pit stops as one of those things to differentiate F1 – not better, not worse, just different.

      * Yeah, yeah, Mercedes’ 50-second pitstop and all that. It provided amusing meme fodder that I found enjoyable, but a) it was under trying circumstances with minimal warning b) it just goes to show how right the teams get it the other hundreds of times.

      1. the synchronized ballet* that goes on in a pit stop is one of those things that appeals to me, and is something that sets F1 apart from other series.

        Same here, @phylyp.
        The clinical execution of (most) pit stops and the organised way teams work in the garages shows to me that F1 is much more than finding the fastest driver; it is a real team sport.

      2. @phylyp, As someone who started watching F1 before pit stops became de-rigeur, and the wags were pressed into service to operate the stopwatches, I find them an infernal distraction and interruption to the racing. Now-defunct SpeedTV even made a program based on teams competing to change the tyres without all that silly racing business, pity it’s no longer available for those who really want it.

        1. @hohum – :) I’d watch that. A pity that pit stop practice isn’t the adrenaline rush that an actual stop is – what with a guy physically pushing the car in to the stops, and the crew in shorts.

      3. @phylyp totally agree. it’s also one of the parts of the sport that appeals to non-fans – even my girlfriend, who is staunchly anti-F1 (for reasons beyond my comprehension) finds the 2 second pit stops impressive. also, short stops allow different types of strategies, so i’m all for it over slower stops (and very much against bringing back refuelling).

    3. pastaman (@)
      30th July 2019, 3:42

      Come, watch Indycar.

      1. hard to do, every time i wake up during “”the race”. Just to see it ended.

  5. What’s the one factor that will always make an exciting race? Unpredictability.

    That should be the basis for determining the rules or regulations for F1. They tried it with refuelling, then with high-deg tyres and it worked until teams had accumulated enough data to be able to manage both.

    The rules on engine (and other component) life and terrible track selections had the reverse effect. Retirements have become so uncommon these days.

    Why must races be held in peak summer time? Races in northern Europe in October could be interesting.

    Could the answer to the so-called boredom be as simple as going racing at tracks where the circuit hands out its own punishment for going off, and limiting the amount of data the teams can accumulate during weekend practice?

    1. @kazinho ”Why must races be held in peak summer time?”
      – Why not? It’s about trying to reach as ideal as possible temperatures since F1 cars don’t really like very cold nor very hot temps. Furthermore, not all of the races take place in peak summertime, namely non-European races, for example, the Japanese and the Chinese GPs, which could take place in the middle of the summer since Suzuka and Shanghai don’t usually get unbearable then either, but they stay pleasantly warm late into Autumn and start to get warm quite early in Spring, unlike most of the European venues, so no need to, and to that matter as well, the Middle Eastern venues don’t hold a slot in the warmest time of year either, although even in mid-Winter the temps are or can be similar to those typically achieved on the more Northerly European cities/venues, but still, only really the European races take place during the warmest months of the year (plus the Canadian GP) as their climate zones don’t allow too much flexibility (except for those in the Mediterranean climate zone).

      1. Cannot agree with this arguement. F1 engines operate better in colder environments. It is the tyres which struggle. This is shown in winter testing when the temperatures can be around freezing, but cars run just fine. As for extreme heat, the cars struggle in extreme heat because of the aerodynamic trade offs. The teams know well in advance the climate of the venues on the calendar and factor in the expected temperatures into the designs.

        My point on the dates was that if you visit venues outside of peak summer – when the weather is usually more unsettled – you have the opportunity for more races heald in wet/changeable conditions. What time of the year were Donnington 1993 and Nürburgring 1995-99 held?

        1. @kazinho – I honestly wouldn’t mind F1 experimenting with a few venues on the calendar. Maybe swap 2 or 4 races around for one season, and see how that plays out? For instance, Malaysia moved to the early part of the season some years ago, putting it at a higher risk of rains, and that has resulted in some good races.

  6. Oh Hulk, what could have been.

    He could have finished on the podium if he’d held together.

  7. Surely F1 can fit wet weather mudguards to a car whenever a wet tyre is fitted? It’s not that difficult.

    1. The reason they don’t is that the rooster tail of spray helps in moving water away from the racing/wet line. The spray would be bad in the initial laps, but as long as the rain isn’t heavy, visibility will improve, especially if there’s wind to help clear the spray.

      Putting mudguards on the car will just redirect water back onto or near the wet line, which keeps the track wet for longer.

      It’s short-term pain for long-term gain.

      1. A thought – was the aeroscreen ever tested in the wet, either in F1 or IndyCar? And has it helped visibility for drivers?

    2. SparkyAMG (@)
      30th July 2019, 12:30

      Mudguards would destroy pretty much all of the aero structures on the car and would ruin performance. Maybe that’s why it’d be a good idea.

  8. This race was so chaotic and great because they had no reference for wet racing this weekend. Practice is often forgotten in a race weekend, but it’s very important for the teams and drivers, especially the big teams, and this weekend helped them not one bit.

    Maybe F1 should cut the practice sessions to just one on Saturday, before qualy. I know this will impact the attendence of the entire weekend, as Friday would be quite dead, but maybe this way the teams would have less data, drivers would have less laps in the car, and races would be more unpredictable.

    1. @gechichan Having fewer practice sessions might initially lead to more unpredictable races, but eventually, things would start to revert to how they are with the current format as the teams would be able to compensate for the lost track-running via simulations, and other methods as Toto once pointed out, therefore, eventually arriving back to square one.

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