Vettel: Aero explains why drivers quickly ditch full-wet tyres for intermediates

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In the round-up: Sebastian Vettel explains why Formula 1 drivers were so quick to ditch their full-wet weather tyres for intermediates even when the Spa track was soaked during qualifying.

In brief

Vettel: Aerodynamics disadvantage full-wet tyres

Several drivers ran intermediate tyres in qualifying even when the track was very wet. Vettel said that one of the difficulties drivers face in mixed-condition sessions is that current F1 cars displace so much water just by running over the track that they can make the track too dry for full-wet tyres very quickly.

“The trouble is that the extreme [full] wet has a super-small working window,” Vettel explained. “It’s not great when there’s a lot of water but then very quickly, when the water disappears – and we have cars that suck the water off the track very quickly with the ground effect that we have nowadays – that pushes to an inter because the inter is a lot faster.

“So that’s why everybody is taking them ride on the knife’s edge with an intermediate because the reward is much greater.”

Ocon hoping for another surprise

After taking eighth on the grid for today’s race, six places ahead of team mate Fernando Alonso, Esteban Ocon said Alpine’s poor pace in qualifying may not be replicated in the race.

“It’s not [certain that] because we were slightly in difficulty today that tomorrow we will be,” he said after qualifying. “The conditions keep on changing, it’s never the same from one lap to another. We are going to have a good review tonight and see what we can improve tomorrow.

“I’m always positive and always waiting for a surprise otherwise if we didn’t hope for a surprise in Budapest, we would not get it. So there could be some tomorrow.”

Doohan: Managing balance in the rain put race from pole under pressure

Jack Doohan started the second Spa F3 race from pole and seemed to get away comfortably, building a sizeable gap to the field before the first safety car period was called.

However, he said that tyre pressures meant he had to manage brake bias in a way that made the car uncomfortable to drive, just to save his rear tyres.

“I was quite nervous about being too high on pressure, so from that point onwards I just went quite far forward on the brake bias,” said Doohan, after the race. “Further forward than I’ve ever run in the wet, just in case the rears started to overheat.

“I started to lock up the front into turn one, turn five and the last chicane, but I just had to the brake early because I prefer to lose a little bit there than in the end not be able to have the rears.”

Kimiläinen: Wet running skills learned in childhood karting

This weekend’s W Series race winner, Emma Kimiläinen, said that she learned to drive in extremely slippery conditions by karting on slick tyres in the rain as a child.

She said “loved” wet weather racing since she was a child. “In Finland we have various conditions, we have a hot summer, but then we also have a cold winter and and lots of rain there as well.

“When I was little my dad always wanted to go driving when it started raining. So then he put me and my brother on slicks on track with the go kart and said just like take care, have fun and so that’s probably why I like it so much.

“And it’s about the car handling and the limits and risks and all that kind of thing that I really enjoy. So it works for me.”

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Comment of the day

George Russell’s near-pole lap was so impressive that it’s easy to forget he has, in the past, really struggled in wet conditions in the Williams, says Ben Rowe.

This is one of the only times Russell has been really good in the wet. In other wet races (Germany 2019, Imola 2021 and Hungary 2021), he’s either been beaten when points were available (or at least after penalties) by his team mates, or crashed.

We’ll just have to hope he has a good start, because about a lot the time he seems to have a worse launch than most of the grid, including his team mates.

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On this day in motorsport

  • On this day in 1976 James Hunt withstood pressure from one Ferrari driver, Clay Regazzoni, and cut into the points leader of the other, the absent Niki Lauda, by winning the Dutch Grand Prix

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a motorsport and automotive journalist with a particular interest in hybrid systems, electrification, batteries and new fuel technologies....

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  • 13 comments on “Vettel: Aero explains why drivers quickly ditch full-wet tyres for intermediates”

    1. Sorry to be pedantic but how is ‘aerodynamics” the reason for ditching full wets. Vettel’s explanation talks about how lot of water gets displaced by full wets making the track dry faster. Nowhere does it say that aerodynamics are worse off / different on full wets vs other tyres.

      1. When you look at the video of Norris approaching Eau Rouge you can see the rearwing lifting the water. That is the effect of the aerodynamics leading to a quickly drying lane.

      2. It’s the car design with the ground effect functioning as a powerful vacuum cleaner/hoover. It sucks up the water from the racing line and sprays it up in the air.
        It’s the same on all tyres and simply means that the useful window for full wets (between too wet and too dry) is very small.

      3. No he doesn’t, he talks about the car’s ground effect displacing the water. Not the tyres.

    2. COTD: Same view.

      Chandhok’s tweet: Gravel is doable or at least more doable than extending runoff areas.

      1. @jerejj gravel comes with its own problems though, and it was cited as worsening Zonta’s crash in 1999 when he crashed at the same place – his car ended up flipping and being thrown into the air when it hit the travel trap, which helped throw his car back onto the circuit.

        When you compare the size of the run off area at Raidillion, which drops down to 10m, against the run off areas for other fast corners at Spa, the run off area is undersized when compared to those corners. The angle of the barriers also appears to be causing quite a few problems, and not just in Formula 1 – the relatively shallow angle tends to cause cars to glance off the barriers and then pushes them back towards the track, such as in Aitken’s crash during the recent GT3 race at Spa.

        The problem is that even GT cars go flat out through there, but the run off area has remained untouched as car performances have increased – this is why other series have also been complaining about the lack of run off in that area. Zonta’s crash suggests that gravel isn’t going to be as effective as some might think, and I’d argue that they do have to look at widening measures to bring the width of the run off area to a comparable standard to what they use elsewhere around Spa for other high speed corners.

      2. Why is making a wall that doesn’t bounce cars completely left out of the discussion?

        Changing the thinking of the drivers is really far away from a workable solution. Sounds more like fishing for likes from the old-school crowd, more than a genuine concern for a fix.

        1. @balue have you invented a wall that does this? Just interested as I think you could make millions as a physicist if so.

          1. @hazelsouthwell I guess TECPRO barriers are not an answer there otherwise it would be an easy fix, but one has to wonder though why there isn’t any around the circuit? We saw in Sotchi turn 3 for example how effective it can be but I’m no engineer. Also the planned work probably address the problem the best way possible. At least now with all the flak they will have strong incentives to do it right.

            1. @spoutnik Tecpro barriers rely on space to shift backwards (sometimes a very considerable distance – in stopping Formula E cars they’ve gone 7 metres) so I don’t think could be the answer at Raidillon, unfortunately.

          2. Norris’s McLaren didn’t reach the barrier at the outside of Raidillon, hence the size and nature of the runoff was, in this particular case, adequate for as safe an accident as is possible at these speeds.

          3. @hazelsouthwell Why should I design anything? This is obviously a matter for the track or barrier designers.

            But since you ask, I can see how a slimmer, free standing tyre wall not backed onto a hard wall would dissipate a lot of the forces and not have such a springy effect. Maybe 2 rows of it is all that would be required to prevent cars bouncing back.

    3. One car crashing at Raidillon isn’t really the biggest problem. It’s that drivers following have no idea what is waiting at the exit of Raidillon, it’s completely blind, but since it’s taken flat out, to have a safety lift off the throttle loses the race. Blind faith that the marshals get the lights/flags out quickly enough and drivers notice them.

      Never been to Spa in real life, but I did treat myself to a pukka racing simulator in lockdown. Even when all that is at stake is pride and a wasted lap, this is a confidence corner taken pedal to the metal.

      Difficult to make it safer without neutering the experience.

    Comments are closed.