Max Verstappen has acknowledged that he hopes F1 won’t begin to function like NASCAR in the future when it rains.
Double world champion Max Verstappen stated it would be “a shame” if Formula 1 followed NASCAR’s approach when it comes to staging races in the rain.
The FIA has been working on ways to make it safer for F1 cars to race in torrential downpours, but Red Bull driver Verstappen is skeptical about their proposed solution.
Although it has been on the agenda for a few years, it has only recently become a serious topic of discussion.
Dilano van’t Hoff, 18, lost his life in a Formula Regional race at Spa-Francorchamps at the beginning of July after being struck by another driver who was unable to detect his wrecked car in the middle of the track owing to the dense spray.
Most of the Friday and Saturday practice sessions at the Belgian Grand Prix were postponed because of rain and the potential for spray, which made visibility dangerously low.
After prolonged downpours, the Sprint race was cut short and started behind the safety car so that the drivers themselves could get rid of any standing water from the track.
NASCAR does not currently race in even the slightest of rain showers due to the banking on high-speed ovals, although they are testing with rain tyres on short ovals like Martinsville.
The FIA has been considering solutions to the issue. The implementation of the wheel coverings it has been testing, which it expects will significantly lessen the amount of spray sprayed up into the air by these F1 cars, is the resolve it hopes will have a major impact on the issue at hand.
Verstappen wants to avoid the same kind of thinking in F1 when it comes to rain, which is frequently the most difficult challenge for drivers when it comes to racing in the rain.
Verstappen is not persuaded that such measure will be very effective because at Spa, simply standing behind the safety car, which already has covered wheels caused enough challenges.
“It’s very difficult to solve these things. You will always suffer from it, and you will always have spray,” Verstappen said.
“Wheel covers on a Formula 1 car won’t make a big difference. The safety car also gave too much spray towards me. On the motorway you actually have the same problem.”
The Red Bull driver continued by drawing parallels between F1’s current situation and NASCAR’s. American racing series executives have been reluctant to race on high-speed oval circuits in wet conditions. However, they are experimenting with various tyres and are happy to race on wet road courses.
“Of course, certain accidents happen that have a bad outcome and then people naturally start to talk about it more,” Verstappen added. “But if you look at it that way, you can’t really race in the rain any more because there will always be problems with visibility.
“That would be a shame. Then it becomes like NASCAR, they don’t drive in the rain either.”
Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff supported Verstappen and shared his worries about wheel coverings’ efficiency. He thinks that the type of tarmac used on F1 racetracks might hold the key, but at a higher expense.
“I think it’s a feature that we all think is good for safety and for racing, the closer you can follow also under the rain is positive,” Wolff said.
“But on the other side, there’s the physics and if there’s rain on the track and you have a floor and the diffuser, and tyres that just keep creating large spray, I’m not sure we’re ever going to get rid of it.
“You could look at the tarmacs of certain tracks, how that can be optimised, and I don’t think that we’ve tackled that yet. But definitely, we know what the objective is, that we can race closer in the rain whilst at the same time acknowledging that it’s never going to be great.”