The Friday of a race weekend usually involves peering at lists of lap times, sector times, speed trap figures and pictures of the cars to work out who’s doing what – and who’s quick.
But not this weekend. This weekend you can take all those pieces of paper and dump them in the bin. Friday’s practice at Silverstone was a total washout. So much so that for much of the second session no-one ventured out on the track at all.
The term ‘rainmaster’ has been applied to many different drivers in F1 history. With rain forecast to stay this weekend, it’s worth asking who among the current crop of drivers is the best in the wet.
The McLaren pair have enjoyed considerable success in recent wet races – think of Jenson Button in Canada last year or Lewis Hamilton at Spa the year before.
Weather forecasts indicate the race could be as wet as Friday was. If this is the case, Hamilton is surely the one to favour: his drive in the streaming rain at Silverstone four years ago, when he won by over a minute, was one of his very best.
Hamilton has usually been the driver to watch when the conditions are extremely wet. He also scored an imperious win at a drenched Fuji in his first season of Formula 1. The odds on another home win for him are 3.50.
It would be foolish to discount the world champion. Sebastian Vettel’s first race victory came at a very wet Monza in an unfancied Toro Rosso. The following year he gave Red Bull their first victory in similarly dreadful conditions in China.
Everyone remembers his last-lap defeat at Button’s hands in a wet Canadian Grand Prix. But don’t forget how he dominated the wet portion of that race, much as he did in Korea in 2010 before his engine failed.
Vettel is priced at 2.50 to win – his odds perhaps on the low side due to the formidable pace Red Bull showed in Valencia.
A surprise winner?
Wet weather means unpredictability – so consider some of these outside candidates for victory.
Fernando Alonso won the wet Malaysian Grand Prix earlier this year, but he was hounded every step of the way by Sauber’s Sergio Perez. Tip the Mexican driver to win at odds of 25.00.
Then there’s Romain Grosjean. Very much an ‘in-form’ driver at the moment, Grosjean was in the hunt for victory in Valencia until his car failed and he’s been giving world champion team mate Kimi Raikkonen a hard time. He was quickest in first practice today and opted not to run in the second session. He’s priced at 11.00 to give Lotus their first win in 25 years.
Muddy misery at Silverstone
The persistent rain in Northamptonshire was bad news for many fans at the track. Even as the last F1 practice session was drawing to a close some were still queueing up to get in.
A huge crowd – larger than many tracks see for race day, never mind practice – descended on Silverstone. But despite Silverstone issuing warnings and guidance the day before, several serious problems were encountered.
The tarmac parking areas filled up quickly. Tailbacks formed as drivers slowly navigated muddy car parks. Further delays were caused as fans without pre-booked pitches turned up at full camp sites.
Even as I write this I’m still seeing tweets from fans stuck in queues trying to leave the circuit.
Silverstone have advised those attending to expect problems as the rain is expected to stay. The park-and-ride service will be running from tomorrow which should help alleviate the problem.
But Silverstone will have to address the obvious shortfall in their preparations which has spoiled the start to the weekend for thousands of fans.
Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic