Formula One plays fast and loose with weather again

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The weather in Austin this weekend has taken no one by surprise. Just as was the case for the fateful 2014 Japanese GP, the weather forecast earlier this week accurately predicted what we are seeing. Thunderstorms, Lightening and localized flooding were all expected.

FP2 was right and properly cancelled yesterday because the medical helicopter was unable to fly and decisions on Saturday’s on track schedule are expected to be made by UK 13:00.

The weather forecast for today is expected to worsen and it could be there is no FP3 or qualifying possible. If this is the case and Qualifying cannot take place on Sunday morning, Charlie Whiting will most likely decide the starting order for the race will be based on FP1 times. This would see Red Bull start P2 and P3 on the grid on Sunday, with Rosberg on pole position and Hamilton down in 5th.

That said, the amount of rain due today added to the overnight downpour is increasing the chances of flooding and there being zero on track running today. The weather is set to improve on Sunday, though one senior paddock member told TJ13 the flooding and consequences may well yet see the race itself cancelled on Sunday. At present there are concerns over whether the roads into COTA may be closed.

Meanwhile, Mexico closed airspace yesterday as Hurricane Patricia became the strongest hurricane ever known to make landfall on the Pacific coast of Mexico after the centre of its eye crossed the coast of Jalisco state early Friday evening. This has caused some consternation over the planned logistics of getting F1 from Austin to Mexico on Monday.

Bernie Ecclestone commented yesterday as FP2 was cancelled, “there’s nothing we can do about the weather” and that the rain in Austin was “unexpected”. On the face of it, this is true, but in fact FOM and Ecclestone are again playing fast and loose with the F1 scheduling and likely weather patterns.

The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1st to November 30th, and the Eastern Pacific hurricane season runs from May 15th to November 30th according to the National Hurricane Centre. The NHC is based at the Florida International University is the division of the United States’ National Weather Service responsible for tracking and predicting weather systems within the tropics.

Given this annual weather pattern it appears naive to claim a hurricane in the region and associated weather in Austin cannot be foreseen.

The summary of the investigation into the Bianchi crash in Suzuka 2014 published a list of recommendations and item 4 stated, It is also recommended that the F1 Calendar is reviewed in order to avoid, where possible, races taking place during local rainy seasons”.

Clearly the continued scheduling of the US GP, the Mexican GP and the Japanese GP in September and October blatantly flouts this recommendation. Cutting Bernie some slack on the 2015 schedule, the report was published after this year’s calendar had been finalised. However, lessons are not being learned for 2016 because these three GP are all planned between October 9th and November 13th, again putting race weekends at risk of weather patterns, which are entirely predictable.

So when again spectators are disappointed by the weather and the race weekends are significantly affected, the cry of “there’s nothing we can do about the weather”, needs to be seen for what it is.

The good news for the returning Mexican GP is that Hurricane Patricia is losing strength. Reports within the hour say it has decreased from a category 4 to a category 1 and should soon become classified as a tropical storm.

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18 responses to “Formula One plays fast and loose with weather again

  1. After seeing that downpour yesterday and the report for the rest of the weekend, I tweeted that we could possibly see the race cancelled.

      • Not sure, but given that it’s a back to back race weekend and all the logistics involved a Monday running is very unlikely.

        • I don’t think weather has ever cancelled an F1. I did a search and they have delayed, taken time out and red flagged due to weather, but I don’t see a cancelled race.
          Do you think, in a backroom somewhere, there is a battle over who picks up the tab if the event is cancelled?

      • I am pretty sure there is no postponement of races like NASCAR. F1 races are either run on Sunday, or they are not.

  2. And what I see is that the German RTL doesn’t broadcast this weekend… or there is something wrong with my TV. ..

    • They had a summary of qualifying planned for 00:00, so maybe they do the same for the race?

  3. Austin at this time of year is usually a pretty safe bet, generally nice weather. It is more likely to be affected by a hurricane coming from the Gulf, which is fairly rare. I don’t think the rain they got yesterday was caused by Patricia, that was it’s own storm cell. The hurricane’s rain won’t arrive until the first of the week.

    • Your assessment is correct. The rain in the state is the result of 2 low pressure zones, one from the west and another from the south, converging together. Hurricane Patricia is pushing more moisture from the southwest but its effect is minimal right now. If it remains intact after making landfall, it could add more rain later in the week. To the article’s main point, weather at this time of year is actually more predictable despite being inside hurricane season. The last hurricane to hit the state did so in September, not October. And many years have passed since a major hurricane has struck the US mainland. As I had said in another thread, I wish the USGP got a spring date earlier in the year. However, weather from March to May(tornado season) becomes very unpredictable and far more dangerous.

      • It’s usually hurricanes from the gulf that hit Mexico. I don’t even remember to many hurricanes in the eastern Pacific, most are Typhoons in the western Pacific, Hurricanes that hit North America generally originate off the coast of Africa.

        • It is true that hurricanes that hit Mexico tend to come more from the Atlantic but this is just a rule of thumb (check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Pacific_hurricanes#Mexico). Given climate change and the increasing strength hurricanes are getting it is safe to assume that a hurricane that heads for the Yucatan Peninsula IS going to drench Mexico city. The point the Judge is making is not whether it is uncommon or not, it’s that you should just avoid the situation. You wouldn’t schedule races in winter in Canada, not even spring or auttumn as you’re just asking for trouble. Same here.

  4. Watching fp3 (acestream is wonderful!) And they are saying it might count as quali, cuz the expect even worse weather…

    • How do you watch it on a acestream? I just downloaded the player, but don’t Know what’s the next step.
      Cheers.

      • Go to wiziwig2.com/ select your sport. In this case racing, formula one and than there are a few options of live streams, click on one and it should automatically open up on acestream. And if it doesn’t you can use the way explained in this tutorial http://youtu.be/AO7pUObPMtE quite simple and worked really well here. Watching from fp3 till non quali and only buffered 3 times.

  5. It’s barely been a year since Bianchi had his horrible accident in Suzuka, and money prevailed then rather than common sense and moving the race forward (or just cancelling it). I totally expect money to prevail again, unless the drivers can somehow force a boycott.

    There’s racing in the rain and madness, this is madness : there is no visibility for drivers, they’re paid millions to put their lives on the lines but sending them out in this amount of rain is just sending them out to crash and possibly injure themselves fatally.

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