Verstappen: Disrupted Suzuka race shows “we need better rain tyres” in F1

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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Max Verstappen says last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix shows Formula 1 needs better wet weather tyres – and he’s willing to help develop them.

Just 28 out of a planned 53 laps of last weekend’s race were run, due to heavy rain. But sespite wet conditions at the start of the race, all 20 drivers chose to start on the intermediate tyre, which have cannot disperse as much water as the full wet tyre.

Verstappen said this is because the performance of the full wet tyre isn’t good enough. When the race was restarted behind the Safety Car all drivers were required to use the full wet tyre, but many pitted to have intermediates fitted soon after the Safety Car came in.

“The [full wets] are just slow and they can’t really carry a lot of water away,” said Verstappen. “That’s why everyone always tries to switch very quickly to an intermediate because it’s just so much faster per lap. You could see from one to the other lap, we went from the [full wet] to the inter and we went immediately five seconds at least faster and that is just too big.

“That’s why nobody really wants to run that [full wet] and when it rained like it did when the red flag came out, you would have put [full wet] tyres on I think it would still be really difficult to drive.”

Verstappen believes the wet weather tyres used when his father Jos raced in F1 – when there was still competition between multiple tyre suppliers – were more effective.

“I don’t want to take a dig out of everyone but I think we need better rain tyres,” said Verstappen. “If you saw what we could do in the nineties or the early 2000s with the amount of water on the track.”

He suspects it would have been “perfectly fine” to race in the conditions seen at Suzuka last weekend using the tyres which were available 20 years ago. “There must be a solution,” he continued.

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“Like I said, this is not a criticism because I’m very happy to help out and really we should look into it. Maybe we can just organise more tests days in the wet and work together to try and find better tyres.”

“I’m very happy to have a few test days and try all different kinds of tyres but we need better rain tyres,” he added.

Verstappen believes F1 cars used to race in wetter conditions than they did last weekend. “[We need] to at least have an opportunity to really drive in the wet and not always only drive like two laps on a [full wet], switch to intermediates and call it a wet race,” he said. “Because a wet race is also normally driven with heavy rain.”

However Charles Leclerc believes the visibility problems caused by the volume of water thrown up by modern wet weather tyres is another part of the reason why rainy conditions are leading to more races being red-flagged.

“I think a big problem of this of these cars is just the visibility,” the Ferrari driver explained. “So whatever we can do to try and improve the visibility and and minimise the spray especially behind the cars, this will be hugely beneficial.

“I believe that sometimes we can actually run for the conditions on the track but just because of the visibility, because it’s so dangerous being behind and you don’t see anything, we end up not running at all. But we should try and find a solution to try and minimise the spray.”

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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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3 comments on “Verstappen: Disrupted Suzuka race shows “we need better rain tyres” in F1”

  1. I think Leclerc is closer to the mark here with his comments on visibility. You can have wet tyres that displace more water, but that water always has to go somewhere – it’s going to be in the air behind the car unless you close the wheels or something. I believe the floors make this worse too with ground effects.

    Fundamentally the difference between 20 years ago and now is that the drivers and officials were more prepared to take the risk of running in poor visibility than they are now. You often hear Martin Brundle talking about having to use landmarks at the side of the track to identify braking points, because he couldn’t see in front of him. As long as the cars ahead have rain lights that are seen easier through the spray, it should be possible to run in very wet conditions even if there is a lot of water being thrown up.

    My view is more or less the same as it has always been. Let the drivers drive according to the conditions. If they can’t do it, they’ll soon find out.

  2. I think Leclerc is closer to the mark here with his comments on visibility.

    Exactly that, plus another item.

    Verstappen, running at the front, never had to cope with a near zero visibility situation and thus doesn’t know what he’s talking about.
    Since his father was better known for the shunts than racing, I think we can leave his passed on advice where it belongs.

    The second item is the issue of aqua-planing, which is a side effect of the ground effect setups. It’s not just water under the tyres you need to consider, you also have a ground effect, pressing the car onto puddles and gliding across them.

    Let the drivers drive according to the conditions. If they can’t do it, they’ll soon find out.

    Unfortunately that could be a short memory retention period for the driver crashing (“oops, got that wrong, oh, a wall, I…”) :(

  3. He suspects it would have been “perfectly fine” to race in the conditions seen at Suzuka last weekend using the tyres which were available 20 years ago.

    Yes, it would have been – provided they were fitted to the cars used 20 years ago.
    The current tyres on those older cars would also have been “perfectly fine.”
    To assert that tyre knowledge and development has gone substantially backwards in 20 years is…. A joke? A mistake? Just flat out wrong? I’ll go with embarrassingly misinformed.
    The fact is that the tyres 20 years ago then were made for the cars of the day, and the current tyres are designed specifically for the current cars’ performance and physical characteristics.

    It’s really amazing just how many people think it’s always the tyres. Often people who should really know better….
    The design of the current cars and the width of the tyres are primarily responsible for why they don’t go racing in heavy wet conditions anymore. The cars suck water off the road and throw it straight into the following driver’s face.
    I don’t think he wants to revert to narrower tyres, though…

    Verstappen comes across here exactly how Hamilton comes across sometimes. As though he knows better about everything than the hundreds of engineers who live and breath tyres, engineering data points, performance targets, chemistry, fluid dynamics, etc.
    I suspect what he actually means is that he would prefer tyres with a performance spread more like the slicks. Inter to Wet right now is like jumping from C1 to C5, where he’d prefer something more like C2 to C4.

    And yay for Leclerc countering with some accuracy.

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