Wet conditions at start were ‘not race-able, we shouldn’t have started’ – Bottas

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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The start of the Japanese Grand Prix should have been delayed because conditions were too wet to race in, says Valtteri Bottas.

Despite intensifying rain in the build-up to the race, the start was given on time. The entire field took the standing start using intermediate tyres.

However Carlos Sainz Jnr spun off and crashed on the first lap, leading to the Safety Car being deployed. On the next lap, as rain continued to fall, the rain was red-flagged. It did not resume for more than two hours.

Bottas believes race control should not have started the race when they did. “The first two laps was not race-able,” he said. “I’m just glad nothing happened.”

He started the race from 12th on the grid, where visibility was very poor. “I was surprised we started because the conditions, the visibility was so, so bad,” he said “We should have not started.”

The race eventually restarted much later behind the Safety Car. “Even the second restart I’m pretty sure from like P6, P7 backwards, it was quite risky,” said Bottas.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto believes a rolling start, which would have required drivers to start on the full wet weather tyre, would have been a better option to begin the race originally.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Suzuka, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Japanese Grand Prix in pictures
“Should we have started the race standing start or should we have started behind the Safety Car? At first I think behind a Safety Car would have been certainly safer, and safety should be always put at first position.

“Why I’m saying that, because as soon as we started a lot of drivers, obviously all the drivers were on intermediate tyres which were the faster but then very little grip, very little visibility. Maybe by starting behind the Safety Car you give at least a couple of laps to understand the situation, have the feedback from the driver before you decide to go for it.”

However his driver Charles Leclerc pointed out the amount of water on the track increased quickly before the start of the race, making visibility worse.

“The conditions changed quite a lot actually from the laps of the grid to the actual first lap,” he said. “There was much more rain, much more standing water, and the visibility especially was extremely poor. That changed pretty quickly.”

Race start, Suzuka, 2022
Visibility was poor at the start of the race

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2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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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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38 comments on “Wet conditions at start were ‘not race-able, we shouldn’t have started’ – Bottas”

  1. I used to love wet weather races in F1. Today I loathe them. The problem is not the weather. The problem is current F1 drivers. They are absolute pussies. It’s MotoGP where the true racing legends of this era can be found. One of the most dangerous racing categories and not half the safety complaints we hear in F1, while they would actually have right of speech when talking safety concerns.

    1. And what name would you give to someone who hides behind their keyboard while making harsh comments they wouldn’t dare say in person

      1. We call them pastaman’s

        1. I’m more offended by your poor grammar and lack of creativity than by the attempted insult

      2. Red herring argument = Providing irrelevant information as a response to relevant information within a context to distract people from what actually was said.

        Why don’t you actually acknowledge his point? Because he does have a good one. F1 is meant to be the pinochle of motorsport. It’s meant to be fast, furious, and risky. If you’re unwilling to enter a blaze to save lives, don’t be a firefighter. If you’re terrified of standing on stage in front of a crowd, don’t be a performer. If you’re unwilling to take on challenging conditions, don’t be an F1 driver

    2. The visibility was poor but the pace and the fact only one car was caught by the conditions speaks for itself.
      Conditions were fine for racing, fia and fom were on their own schedule.

    3. I am starting to think that F1 should retire extreme wet tyres – everytime the track would call for them race direction throws a red flag. Today, drivers start on inters, and only restart on extreme by RD orders, just to immediately switch to inters.

      1. 100%, if the conditions require full wets, the spray and thus visibility is to poor to drive, so what is the point of having them at all. They started of full wet and got onto intermediate ASAP. Full wets are pointless.
        Shift full wets closer to intermediate and shift intermediate closer to slicks, then if too wet, don’t race, the added risk is not worth it.

    4. Exactly. Part of it is that Bottas sucks in the wet. He should watch the Fuji race of Vettel’s rookie season. They seemed to do just fine.

      Fan and driver risk tolerance has dropped to laughable levels. We face WAY WAY more risk on our daily drives than they do simply do to sheer chance and no carbon survival cell, hans device and helmet.

      I have personally raced in way wetter conditions than these. Granted, our tires don’t create as much spray, but vision is actually much better than the camera shows.

      1. No, wrong. The commentators actually discussed this, visibility is actually worse than the camera shows, the camera does not show the water on the drivers visor or the full extent of driving long ways through the spray and it automatically adjusts light to the best for viewing.

  2. If Bottas didn’t wan’t to start why did he start than? Nikkie Lauda refused to continue in 1976 despite loosing the WDC. Agree pussies

    1. I agree with you, some of the drivers dont want to be heros or legends, they just want to be celebrities. Some of them even pay to be this kind of celebrities. When push comes to shove, when its a matter of danger and not just money spent, they bail out. Their adrenaline comes from the spotlight, not the speed itself.

      Just one thing id like to point out, and its about Lauda. Theres a Beyond the Grid podcast – cant remember the guest -, but this fella stated that there was a meeting prior to the 1979 Japanese GP and that Lauda was led to believe that both him and Hunt would retire from the race, or something along those lines.

  3. Bottas has a really embarrassing season, he scored some good points early on when the car was more competitive and the rest of the season is struggling to beat his rookie team mate that none was expecting to be close to him before the season began.

    1. There was a reply to this on a previous post. I don’t really rate Bottas, but he is not being beaten by his
      Team mate, he has been beaten in recent races by bad luck, mostly, but 46 to6 points is hardly being beaten. It is always best to look at the reason for the result before passing judgement, not always the Drivers fault. One might Say Hamilton is having a really embarrassing season as he is being beaten by his Team mate 207 to 180

  4. It is always a disappointment to go into the comment sections and be greeted by vitriol and honestly, complete nonsense.

    Max made a really good point in the post race presser, he phrased it nicely enough, trying not to shift any blame on Pirelli, but the current extreme wet tires are, in his words, completely worthless. He pointed to their utter slowness compared to the intermediates, and to their inability to create an easy to drive car. He pointed out that just twenty years ago these conditions were perfectly fine to race in, and today they just aren’t anymore.

    He also offered up a solution, one he thought all drivers should participate in. A multiple day wet track test of all kinds of potential wet tires so they can once and for all develop a proper wet tire that is usable in such conditions.

    1. He pointed to their utter slowness compared to the intermediates,

      The Wet tyres are there to handle the wet conditions, not the be as fast as the Intermediates. Maybe in the past there was a smoother cross-over between Wet and Intermediates, which would obviously be better, but this remark by Verstappen just demonstrates that the drivers can afford to only focus on pure pace because they know that handling the conditions is no longer part of the equation. As soon as someone spins off, the FIA will red flag the race.

      1. If they’re always going to red flag, they should focus on tires that create less spray and slower lap times, but allow to them race. No one cares about lap times.

      2. That doesn’t make sense… If the intermediates are faster than the full wets then they are handling the conditions better. The full wet tyres should be faster when the conditions suit them but they aren’t so there is clearly a problem with them.

        You could equally say “the intermediates are there to handle the conditions, not be as fast as super-soft slicks” but in the conditions they had on Sunday, they could do a faster lap on the inters than they could on slicks….

        1. It’s crazy how Pirelli has not managed to produce a good wet tire once in over 10 years.

        2. The full wet tyres should be faster when the conditions suit them but they aren’t so there is clearly a problem with them.

          The full wet tyres would absolutely have been substantially faster than the inters if used in the (very wet) conditions they were designed for (inters would have been unable to displace sufficient surface water and induced aquaplaning) – but F1 doesn’t allow the cars on track in those conditions anymore due to visibility concerns.
          Inters were faster in those conditions, yes – because the conditions they were used in were in the intermediates window.
          The tyres are fine for their intended purposes – if only F1 allowed them to show that.

          The level of disinformation spread about Pirelli is incredible. Disappointing really.
          For people who say they are following the pinnacle of motorsport, many sure do show an enormous lack of understanding and knowledge at times.
          At least give them some credit for being one of the only tyre producers in the world willing to do the silly things that F1 tell them to do.

      3. And different aerodynamics, requiring different tyre characteristics, I don’t know, but seems possible.

    2. The real problem is that whenever conditions are too bad for inters, the wets lift so much water that visibility becomes too bad to race. I guess that in the past they didn’t have same level of downforce and had to slow more and tires lifted less water.
      They should consider scrapping the wet and have something between inters and slicks (with eventually inters managing a bit more water than today), that would definitely spice up strategies and have a proper transition between compounds. Forcing drivers to start on wet because of rules when nobody wants them is a bit farcical and enhanced inters would manage in all conditions F1 is currently racing in.
      Either race when full wet are applicable even if it means disastrous visibility and long gaps between cars, or scrap/modify the compounds to make them relevant. When was the last time wet was the tire to be on for enough lap to matter?

    3. Just get rid of Pirelli and bring a real tire manufacturer in.

      1. Namely?
        And got some meaningful and substantial proof to back up the claim that they’d be any better in current F1?

  5. ‘Valtteri, it’s called a motor race. We went car racing’.. – Maikeru Masi-san

  6. Bottas is right, a car crashed out, one car.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      9th October 2022, 21:05

      and vettel spun, and albon and magnusen made contact, and zhou spun and sainz crashed. All happened in 2 laps. It was obvious that they shouldn’t really have gone ahead with the start.

      1. Cars make contact on the first lap all the time, especially when Magnussen is involved. He has ruined many of his decent qualifying results by being impatient at the first lap. And someone going around the outside into Turn 1 at Suzuka and ending up spun around has also happened numerous times.

  7. If only there had been a different tyre available that was better able to cope with the amount of water on the track…

    1. Indeed, the entire grid went out on the wrong tyres because they gambled on the track clearing. The visibility might have been tough but I doubt its worse than we had in races 20 or 30 years ago. If a driver isn’t comfortable they can slow down or retire.

      1. It’s not really a gamble – there’s no advantage to going out on wet tyres because if it’s wet enough to require them, the race will be stopped. Everyone knows that, which is why no one bothered to put the full wets on.

        1. Yes, this is the problem, a change in fia’s direction; years ago it actually made sense to consider if it was worth gambling on more performing or safer tyres.

    2. Exactly.
      They don’t have proper tyres to race in these conditions.

  8. Compare that picture of the opening lap to a picture of the first lap at Silverstone in 2008. And then consider that race had zero safety cars, and no red flags. Despite seven cars spinning out, two of them on lap 1!

    It used to be a point of pride to do well in the wet, but today’s F1 drivers no longer want to race in the wet. Some blame has to go to the FIA race directors who have constantly given in to their complaining. The drivers deliberately start on the wrong tyre to save themselves a pitstop, then ask for a safety car knowing it’ll stick around long enough for their Intermediates to be the right choice. This has happened so often that it’s now standard procedure for teams to just ignore the Wet tyres entirely unless they’re outright forced to use them by the FIA.

    1. If 50% of fans hadn’t been conditioned to have zero risk tolerance these days, they’d be racing like they used to.

    2. In 2007 we had similar outrage with regards to the Japanese Grand Prix, where an embarrassing amount of time was wasted behind the safety car. At the very Grand Prix you’re referring to, Alonso was on the radio whining that “we need the safety car immediately, it’s impossible to drive”… while on the intermediates! This problem goes much further back than what we’d like to think.

  9. Very simple point: you can’t say conditions were not raceable if you go out on inters, try the full wets before making that comment.

  10. This weekend tipped me over a fence I have been balancing on for the last few years. On the one hand I’m thinking just get on with it, that is what the full wet tires are for. On the other hand, why do they keep pretending that it’s possible to race side-by-side with zero visibility? Just stop trying already and save everyone the trouble.

    We were very lucky this weekend that nothing bad happened. Leaving the discussion of the recovery vehicle aside, watching how close it was between Sainz’s crashed car and several others that passed at full speed had me hold my breath. Legs, and lives, have been lost in similar scenarios. From the onboards it was obvious that there is no chance for a driver to react to anything stationary on track. Gasly made a good point of that by collecting that piece of advertising board out of nowhere. And it wasn’t even full wet tire conditions, they all chose to be on inters. Because when they went racing it was the faster tire, proven later by everyone on full wets going several seconds slower. Simply because when a track is wet enough for the full wet tire to be the fastest, conditions are so bad that they can’t and shouldn’t race anyway.

    Others above have commented similar thoughts, that a big part of the problem are the tires. But the thinking is divided. Some seem to think the wet tires need to clear more water to provide better grip, which on the face of it might sound reasonable. Even Isola from Pirelli discussed that on TV, admitting they could do that, but he also did seem to think that that would not solve any problems. And he is right. The problem is not grip, it’s visibility.

    I don’t think it was too wet to start the race when they did, but it was on the cusp. So there is no need for a tire for anything worse. In conclusion, I now think they should bring both wet tires tread patterns closer to the slicks. Then they could both be actually used for racing, and if it’s more wet than that, there will simply not be any racing anyway. It’s just not worth the risks involved with the amount of spray these cars lift.

    If we consider the current full wet tire to be 100% above the inter in terms of clearing water, I would suggest replacing that with one that is somewhere around the 20-30% mark instead. And bring the inter 20-30% closer to a slick. So when conditions are good enough to race, there are more realistic options for trying different tires with cross-overs maybe even overlapping.

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