Formula One drivers face different climates as they race on several circuits worldwide. Over the nine-month season, F1 races occur under windy, dusty, wet, and scorching conditions.
F1 drivers and their cars face specific challenges under each weather. Where the FIA doesn’t cancel races, the teams evolve to surmount the weather challenges each circuit provides.
Open top F1 cars leave drivers wet when it rains during the race. Visibility also worsens under heavy rains as cars kick off thick sprays while speeding through stagnant water.
Wet tracks could cause aquaplaning, sending cars off the tarmac as the tires lose their grip on the road. The lower temperature may also hamper braking efficiency.
The FIA will delay or cancel races under such extreme conditions.
There are five tire types. These are hard, medium, soft, intermediate wet, and full wet tires. Hard tires are not suitable for rainy days as they increase the chances of aquaplaning; this is when water builds up between the tires and the road and reduces tire traction. It is dangerous because it makes the car unresponsive to steering.
For this reason, F1 cars use special wet tires with a stronger grip that keeps cars grounded on slick tarmac. Intermediate tires are used when the track is damp, but full wet tires are preferred during heavy rain. The tires are larger and elevate the car above the wet road.
As mentioned above, rainy weather hampers visibility and puts drivers’ lives in danger. Though special tires keep the cars raised and grounded for better steering control, a wet track is a test of mettle for drivers.
Cold temperatures also limit tire performance. F1 tires must warm up to about 100°C to stick to the track and provide the needed grip for peak performance. Frigid conditions aren’t ideal for an exciting F1 race.
Under windy conditions, F1 drivers struggle to keep control of their cars. In addition to countering the car’s aerodynamics, strong winds could spin the race car and spread debris in the driver’s face. Luckily, drivers have layers of transparent strips on their visors they tear off when stained to sustain their line of sight.
Under hot weather conditions, overheating is a primary challenge for the drivers. Formula One teams have to provide electrolyte drinks, cooling pads, and fresh air ducts to the helmets to prevent dehydration.
Also, the tarmac heats up quickly and could be at least 10°C hotter than the ambient temperature; this can wear tires out quickly unless drivers use harder versions or preserve their tires with softer driving.
F1 cars do well in dry weather and struggle under wet conditions. However, the FIA will cancel a race when the weather is dangerous and puts a driver’s life in peril.
Poor visibility due to heavy rain cut short the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix event at Spa-Francorchamps. A similar event occurred at the 2009 Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix. At the 2019 Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka, typhoon winds led to the cancellation of free practice while qualifying had to be rescheduled to mere hours before the main event.
In the same vein, F1 races will not take place under freezing conditions.
If you want to learn more about Formula One events, and anything about cars in Ghana, be sure to read our blog guides.
If you have a question, call or email us.
We will get back to you as soon as possible!