The accident that brought a premature end to the Japanese Grand Prix provoked mixed reactions from drivers concerned about the condition of Jules Bianchi.
With rain returning to Suzuka, drivers were forced into a decision whether to pit for another set of intermediate tyres, or return to the full wets with which they started the race. While many opted to continue on the former, the accidents involving Adrian Sutil and Bianchi raised questions about whether the conditions should have warranted the return of the safety car, with the German suggesting the recovery of his Sauber .
When the top three finishers were asked about the conditions at the end, however, each admitted that, for them, they had not been serious enough to warrant a return to full wets.
“Personally, it wasn't [too bad],” race-winner Lewis Hamilton insisted, “There was more and more rain coming, and you could see more reflection on the circuit, so it was increasing the amount of water on the track, but I didn't notice any difference [in grip] so I was able to maintain the same pace. I would imagine that I would have been able to finish on those tyres as there were only ten laps left.”
Mercedes team-mate Nico Rosberg, however, conceded that the superiority of the Mercedes package may have masked how difficult the situation was for others in different teams.
“The thing is that we have so much more downforce than other people, so I can imagine that, for them, it was already on the limit of needing to go to full wets,” he reasoned, “That's very possible. I was surprised to hear that other people were already going to full wets but that's a possible explanation.”
For world champion Sebastian Vettel, whose Red Bull had been set up for the anticipated wet conditions ahead of Saturday's qualifying session, conceded that the decision to continue on intermediates had been 'borderline'.
“It started to rain with a little less intensity and, when the race was stopped, it was just a drizzle, but, a couple of laps before, it was getting quite dark,” he noted, “We pitted and decided to go for intermediates again but I think that the problem, in general, is that, when there is a lot of water, visibility is very poor and, when there is too much water, the inter doesn't work any more.
"The extreme wet only has a very narrow window when it works - drainage on the extreme is probably not as good as it should be and that's why the window is narrow and why people decided to pit – [but], for sure, the better your car, the better it is for you. Nico explained it very well....”
There were similarly mixed views over the timing of the start of the race, with Felipe Massa saying: “In my opinion they start the race too early. It was not drive-able at the very beginning.”
However, Jenson Button disagreed: “When the race started it was fine. I came straight in and put inters on.”