- Rain is frequently regarded as a great leveller in Formula One
- Driving a Formula 1 car in perfect conditions is difficult enough, but it’s an entirely different story when the weather turns bad
- We look at some of the best wet weather drives
Driving a Formula 1 car in perfect conditions is difficult enough, but it’s an entirely different story when the weather turns bad.
Rain is frequently regarded as a great leveller in Formula One, providing an opportunity for the car’s performance to take a back seat and allow the driver’s talent to shine through.
And we’ve seen some genuinely spectacular wet drives over the years.
We look at some impressive wet weather drives.
Lewis Hamilton, Great Britain 2008
Hamilton joined McLaren in 2007 and nearly won the World Championship on his debut, but there was still scepticism about his ability until the British Grand Prix in 2008.
But after this one, all doubt was gone. Hamilton’s teammate Heikki Kovalainen started on the pole, but after closely following him, Hamilton took the lead on Lap 5 and never looked back.
The weather was constantly changing at Silverstone, with drivers spinning off to the left, right, and centre as the downpours continued, but Hamilton persevered.
With Raikkonen trailing Hamilton by less than a second when they both pitted on Lap 21, McLaren took a risk by fitting new intermediate tyres to Hamilton’s car. At the same time, Ferrari chose not to change the tyres.
That proved a costly mistake as the rain began to fall again, and Hamilton went on to win his home race by one minute and eight seconds over BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld.
Damon Hill, Japan 1994
The tragic death of Senna that year had placed all the pressure on relative newcomer Hill to deliver for Williams, which he did at Suzuka.
Hill’s performance in Suzuka, where he outran an advancing Schumacher in the pouring rain, is considered one of the classics.
It was even more impressive given that he drove with only three new tyres after one became stuck due to a wheel nut issue.
Hill’s championship lead over Schumacher has shrunk to just one point heading into the season finale in Adelaide. Hill was scared by the mental place he went to after such a superhuman performance.
Sebastian Vettel, Italy 2008
Vettel’s performance in Monza was spectacular.
This was the day that the four-time World Champion, who was still a Toro Rosso driver and a Red Bull Academy prospect, truly arrived.
The race began behind the Safety Car, and after that, Vettel built a solid lead in the heavy rain. Still, even when the track dried out, he continued to stretch his lead in the Toro Rosso, crossing the line 12.5 seconds ahead of Kovalainen in the McLaren.
It was a race that Vettel had no business winning in a Toro Rosso, and it remains the team’s only Formula One victory, adding to the legend of the underdog.
Jackie Stewart, Germany 1968
The old 14.2-mile Nurburgring was a daunting challenge at the best of times, so adding torrential rain and fog only added to Stewart’s achievement that day.
Stewart started from the third row but stormed into P3 right away. He would use the concrete pitlane because it provided more grip than the tarmac of the track, and after picking off Chris Amon’s Ferrari at Adenau and then Graham Hill’s Lotus, Stewart built an eight-second lead by the end of Lap 1.
Stewart delivered an incredible performance, setting the fastest lap time of 9m 36s on Lap 8. In comparison, that was 15 seconds faster than anyone else.
Stewart redefined dominance in his Matra, and his final winning margin was 4m03s.
Nobody should have been racing in that weather, and we’ll never see anything like it again.
Michael Schumacher, Spain 1996
There was a time when Schumacher and Ferrari were not the fastest teams in Formula One. Consider the majority of 1996, except the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
Despite qualifying nearly a second slower than the Williams duo of Hill and Jacques Villeneuve, Schumacher took the lead on Lap 13 and never relinquished it.
Schumacher stormed to victory in dominating fashion, with a winning margin of 45 seconds over Jean Alesi in the Benetton.
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