After the postponement of qualifying at last weekend's Australian Grand Prix, and the late start to round two at Sepang threatening to put F1 back in the path of some typical tropical storms, questions have been raised as to why the sport can't cope with extreme levels of rainfall.
Team bosses and engineers, however, insist that, within the current technical specification, there is no real answer to the problem of failing to give the fans what they want, when they want it. While Malaysia has become synonymous with some of the heaviest rain of the F1 season, other events are not immune, with the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix
suffering a major interruption when conditions suddenly deteriorated.
“I think that, with the conditions you sometimes get here, there's so much rain, it would just be impossible to run,” Ferrari's Pat Fry said of Sepang, “I think we can try and make the cars safer to run, and I think we have, but is there a tyre good enough for the conditions? There was a downpour in 2009, [and] you're never going to make something that can survive that kind of situation.
“I just think that, for me, it's a very difficult thing to overcome. With that much water, it's not safe to run. Whether the FIA want to get a committee together to try and understand and see if it is possible to run in that, that's entirely up to them.”
Lotus technical director James Allison confirmed that there were several issues to be overcome with the current design of F1 car, so it wasn't just down to finding ways of improving the tyres to cope with standing water.
“The spray becomes impenetrable very quickly and the cars start to aquaplane,” he explained, “You could do something about the aquaplaning, to an extent, with a different set of tyres, but the spray would still be an issue and there would still come a point where the aquaplaning would dominate, especially at places like this. I don't think, technically, there is much of a solution. We just have to wait for when there are conditions that a car can run.”