Two of Formula 1's most experienced drivers, Nick Heidfeld and Rubens Barrichello, believe the Japanese Grand Prix should not have started in the treacherous conditions it did at Fuji Speedway.

Low cloud, mist and heavy rain have blighted the first race to be held beneath Mount Fuji for 30 years, so much so that the first 19 laps of the grand prix were conducted under safety car conditions in an attempt to clear the circuit.

However, while the rain at times was heavier than when it started, FIA race director Charlie Whiting took the unprecedented decision to allow the race to get underway properly in still terrible conditions.

Nonetheless, it proved to be a wise move as most drivers, save for a few errors, completed the race with few terminal problems.

Heidfeld and Barrichello though were rather vocal in their criticism about the decision to race when the conditions had arguably failed to improve.

"In my opinion the race should not have been started under these weather conditions," said Heidfeld, who was tapped into a spin on the first corner before eventually retiring on the penultimate lap from sixth place with a misfire.

"For me it was a very difficult situation when the safety car came in after 19 laps. My radio didn't work and I had a misfire. Because the decision whether the safety car comes in or not is made during a lap, the team couldn't even tell me on the pit board. So I always tried to see the safety-car which wasn't easy. Fortunately I saw when it switched off the lights to come in.

"Due to the misfire I was only in sixth gear on the straight which means I was relatively slow. That was very dangerous because the drivers behind me could hardly see me. I tried to find a line where I would be as safe as possible. That's why Kimi R?ikk?nen could pass me on the left hand side. I was just happy we didn't crash. But then Jenson Button crashed into my car and damaged it."

Indeed, Barrichello, who finished tenth, claims the race should have been stopped earlier too, a sentiment that was also echoed by Honda team-mate Jenson Button.

"I'm obviously disappointed that our strategy did not work out today but to be honest, in my view, the race should have been stopped very early on," the Brazilian said. "The conditions were so difficult and it was impossible to see anything for the entire race."

 

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