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In a move that suggests the folks at Pirelli at least know to whom they should be genuflecting, the company’s motorsports director Paul Hembery has backed Bernie Ecclestone’s idea of having artificially wet Formula 1 races.

Quick! Someone get Crash Davis on the phone! We’ve got a job for him.

As I know you will recall, and I’m just learning after a three-day business trip that had me out of the loop, Bernie in a Q&A at the F1 site suggested the following:

Q: Any more ideas?
BE: Yes. Look at the races we have now. Overtaking is almost impossible because in the dry there is only one line good for maximum speed because of the rubber on the track. You have a completely different picture when it is wet. We always had the most exciting races in the wet so let’s think of making rain…

Q: Making rain?
BE: Yes. There are race tracks that you can make artificially wet and it would be easy to have such systems at a number of tracks. Why not let it ‘rain’ in the middle of a race? For 20 minutes or the last ten laps? Maybe with a two-minute warning ahead of it. Suspense would be guaranteed and it would be the same for all.

(Now, that was just one of any number of crazy Bernie ideas in the full Q&A. As Negative Camber did, I encourage you to hit that above link and read the whole thing. He’s got ideas on keeping drivers from running in other series, suggests Michael Schumacher won all his titles because the competition was lame, etc. Classic Bernie.)

Ah, guaranteed suspense, even if it is artificial. No problems, right?

Well, the folks at Pirelli don’t have any, as they told Autosport (smart enough to ask the tire people about it):

“Straight after our recent successful [wet-weather] Abu Dhabi test I saw him and said, ‘why don’t we do an artificial wet race?’ The technology is such that you can wet a circuit with a sprinkler system, so the idea is not as daft as it sounds.

“Having seen what it was like in Abu Dhabi, certainly with a wet element it would look spectacular – and visibility shouldn’t be a problem because there would be no clouds.

“From a tyre makers’ point of view, there is no difficulty in making suitable tyres. We have seen great races in the past when you have had an extra variable like the weather, so why not?”

[snip]

“At the end of the day you want people to watch what you are offering,” he said. “F1 ultimately competes for entertainment space with other sports – so people need to see something that is interesting.

“From that point of view, an artificial wet race would add to the show – and you want something people will watch.

“A good example of a radical idea in the sport that have been accepted is the Singapore Grand Prix. You could argue that running at night under lights is a gimmick. But it has turned out to be one of the most spectacular races of the season. It is stunning.

“Couldn’t you in fact argue that a street circuit itself is gimmicky? After all, you have created a circuit out of normal roads.”

He added: “I would agree that something fake like throwing in safety cars frequently to close the field up if they got too spread out would be going too far, but in terms of throwing something of a new challenge, like an artificial wet race, at drivers, tacticians and engineers, it would be great.”

OK, shall we break that down?

1. This apparently was Pirelli’s idea. What do you think or make of that? Is that the company’s role?
2. Are street circuits and night races equally gimmicky? (Does the night race add to the “show” other than to have all the pretty lights, though?) I’m not sure anyone would accuse Monaco of being gimmicky in the sense of more overtaking. (Remember: SJ hearts Monaco.)
3. The big one, I think, is his last statement about the fakery of safety cars vs. artificially wet races. Does anyone see a big difference there?

And, of course, the final question: What do you all think? There were some good thoughts on the older Bernie/rain post. Maybe I’d add to the questions: Is F1 in such horrible shape that such elaborate steps are necessary so people will keep watching? Didn’t F1 claim a bump in viewers last year? Maybe having a handful of teams that can win races and at least that many drivers with legitimate shots at wins and even being in the title hunt is the real cure?

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  • 19Krpm

    What a stupidity. Opening regulations in terms of engines and clever designs will bring more excitement, but being a ‘rainmaker’ is not a good option (FOTA?). Imagine I’m engineer, and I just saw my beautiful creation crashed into the walls because of the rain that just damped the track ? More money, safety ? How does that correlate with the lower costs ? Rain = accidents. Do you want to see your favorite driver with tire punctures and broken leg because of the ‘suspense’ ?

  • I don’t see the problem with providing a “wet” race at boring tracks like Bahrain, Valencia and Abu Dhabi. If anything it might add a bit of excitement to the new and uninteresting Tilke products.

  • I suggested this a few years ago (on the Speed boards, I think), and I was only half-kidding.
    Looking at the other thread (http://www.formula1blog.com/2011/03/01/ecclestone-making-rain-rear-wing-dangers-and-medals/), I disagree with HOBO and the others who think it is a pure gimmick.
    The unpredictability is only part of the picture, and is not always the case. There are full-wet weekends, and the field is still shuffled in a way that triggers the “talent vs. technology” inferences.
    A wet track does not guarantee a crash fest. It absolutely opens up a variety of racing lines. It takes away the weight “penalty”. It changes the priorities of power delivery and forces new thinking in the engineering class (which would, in turn, translate to street cars). And, it makes a more obvious demand on tire technology and development for the street.
    Artificial snow racing, however, is probably a bridge too far… ;-)

    • Williams4Ever

      RustyBucket@West Bloomfield by any chance?

  • mg5904

    So tell me again how throwing millions of gallons of fresh water onto a race track fits into F1’s Green Initiative?

    • The Imperative Voice

      You just thought it would be fresh…….=)

      • mg5904

        Eeeeeewwwwww!!! :O

  • mg5904

    F1 2016

    Bernie/Pirelli team up with Activision. Drivers park their cars after exiting turn 1 and run down the track swinging over alligator-filled pits and leaping over rolling logs to pick up gold treasure. Drivers then climb down a ladder into subterranean tunnel leading back to their cars but must avoid comically large scorpions on their journey back. First three drivers back receive medals and an opportunity to input their name – using their steering wheel – next to their high scores. Only three letters allowed, though.

    • Williams4Ever

      F1 2016
      Rubens Barichello Criticizes the new regulations causing increased workload for drivers and as a result in Fans pile on him calling him sore loser.

      Lewis Hamilton, Alonso, Vettel criticize the new regulations and Fans join the discussion on how FIA is making regulation changes in wrong areas and thus killing the innovations in design and technology philosophy, which F1 is all about

      :D

      • mg5904

        Hey, there’s a lot of engineering and technology involved in designing comically large scorpions!

  • gsprings

    i kinda like the artificial wet race idea,i think they should at least try it out at one race to see how it would work out

  • gsprings

    no matter what anyone thinks,no shadow of a doubt it would spice things up,don’t think anyone can deny that

  • brianpmack

    Wet races are “spicy” because the conditions are not manipulated by humans. An artificially wet race would not have the same qualities. While it may be better than dry races at some tracks you won’t have a Markus Winkelhock moment.

  • Steven

    Of course Pirelli likes the idea, it will mask how bad their tires are…

    • GT000

      My thoughts exactly.

      • Wchrisg

        I don’t think they are crappy. The requirement was for crap. They gave the customer what they wanted. Bridge stone made tire where the inters could do 80 laps.
        If i were perelli I would ask the fia to bring back refueling an drop the tire stop requirement. Give each car 7 liters of fuel.

        • Jack Flash

          “Give each car 7 liters of Fuel” ???

          Huh? ~1.54 Imp Gallons or ~1.85 US Gallons?
          That’s about two laps worth of fuel in F1. What the?
          –> 30-35 pitstops per race.

          Perhaps you meant to say 70 litres – 18.5 US Gallons. That’s around a half race fuel load for F1 cars.

          • wchrisg

            yes 70 Liters I was aiming for normal car fule loads…stupid iphonish

        • GT000

          True Pirelli is only providing what was asked for but the perception by at least some members of the viewing public will be that rapidly degrading tyres must be crap. If the extra gimmicks being introduced to increase overtaking succeed in bringing in a larger but less informed audience, Pirelli could end up with a significant PR backlash.

  • gsprings42

    the cars would drive the same on a man made wet track as they would on a natural wet track

  • gsprings42

    it would be cool to see these guys racing on a wet track in the sunlight though

  • wchrisg

    Fire hoses controlled by internet vote!

    No Gimmicks, race where it Rains.It’s like Bernie is watching old Speed Racer episodes.
    Next F1 Should Race through a volcano, then on an oval that lifts off the ground, …how ’bout a bipolar robot car and an FIA requirement for Neckerchiefs.

    2010 was an exciting season because of new rules, really dumb mistakes by top drivers, close scoring, and controversy. Hey that’s F1.

    • This actually is a GRAND idea. Vettel as Speed and Webber as Racer-X!

      Feel free to add to the casting…

      • OK, I’m thinking more, and maybe Schumacher needs to be Vettel’s Racer-X. Discuss.

        • Wchrisg

          Christian Horner as spridle?

          • Wchrisg

            Patrick head as pops and Adrian newsy as sparky!

          • Wchrisg

            Adrian Newey that is. Stupid iPhoneish 4th

  • augdog

    love the idea. at least try it once, just to see how it goes.

  • CHINO52405

    Worst. Idea. Ever. Bernie is really starting to sound like Vince McMahon.

  • I hate people… People are stupid.

    Take this as an example.

    I hate fake “racing”… Fake racing is stupid.

    • Next we’ll have Bernie suggesting we have rainbow boxes for the drivers to crash trough handing activating random items like oil slicks, bananas, and exploding red turtle shells.

  • Jack Flash

    An Idea that is Eight different shades of STUPID.

    I can’t believe this hair-brained idea is getting any serious F1 Blog traction.
    Is the Media world all on acid or something? JF

  • Ice Blue

    Bernie has a GREAT idea here but it needs to be embellished. Have each sprinkler sponsored by a brand of bottled water, anti-freeze or motor oil and each one will spray its product on the track. Count the dollars Bernie, you might be able to afford a decent haircut.