Many call rain the great equaliser, but in fairness those who say it are probably involved with the smaller teams. What it does do is bring race pace down a notch or two, even grinding events to a spluttering halt on the odd occasion. After the madness in Montreal, what other races can stack up against arguably Canada’s finest ever race? The Badgerometer investigates!
If you haven’t seen the brilliant Senna movie we’re about to spoil the very first sequence for you. If you have, then you’ll know exactly why it’s included. Monaco, being on the coastline, has been prone to having one or two freak incidents of rain tarnish the glamour of the place. In 1984, Alain Prost was leading with the laps slowly ticking down, while an unknown Brazilian in a Toleman was hunting him at a pace of two seconds a lap quicker. The conditions were bad, but Ayrton Senna was making the most of his big chance to announce his arrival to the F1 world. But, it was not to end in glory, as Prost convinced the stewards to stop the race by parking on the start finish line, ending the chance of an underdog victory.
It was quite funny to see David Coulthard and Michael Schumacher sharing a bit of banter in the pre-race build-up on Sunday, considering the rather patchy history between the two. The biggest incident was probably the now infamous collision on a drenched track at Spa in 1998. The race had already been delayed due to a massive 13 car pile-up – ironically initiated by Coulthard’s lead foot out of turn one – and the Scot was running last after another bout of argy-bargy with Austrian Alex Wurz. Michael came up to lap David on lap 25, but the Mclaren slowed too much on the racing line and the Red Baron went crash bang wallop into the back of him.
The organisers of the very first Korean Grand Prix must have wanted the weather to hold out for all their hard work to pay off, but the rain clouds above Yeongam had other ideas. The race started under the dreaded safety car, and was then red-flagged after only 3 laps due to many drivers reporting poor visibility. After a delay of 40 minutes the race restarted, but again under the safety car, and would stay under caution until lap 17. Under green flags, the racing turned into a game of “stay-on-the-black-stuff”, which Mark Webber failed to do, taking Nico Rosberg out in the process, while Adrian Sutil decided he was driving a different track to everyone else and braked later at every single corner. The best was yet to come, as leader Sebastian Vettel’s engine gave up the ghost 10 laps from the end, promoting Fernando Alonso to the lead. To say he was happy was an understatement indeed.
The Brawn fairytale had already stunned many experts in the first race of 2009, and Malaysia would be a continuation of the same. But, with a raft of rule changes such as KERS coming into effect, they weren’t the only surprise team to be at the sharp end of the grid. Jenson Button took pole, with Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock and Nico Rosberg lining up behind.
When the lights went out Rosberg jumped everyone to lead into the first corner, Trulli followed and Fernando Alonso used Renault’s KERS to move from 10th to 3rd. Button fell back to fourth but stayed with the leading pack, passing Alonso for third place. Rosberg and Trulli stopped first, proving that they were lightly fueled to be at the front. The heavier Button carried on and inherited the lead, while the skies darkened around Sepang. Kimi Raikkonen was the first to blink and stopped for wets, but it was too soon and the tyres quickly shredded on the dry tarmac.
The heavens then well and truly opened. In the spray and rain, it became apparent that the race had to be stopped, with several drivers voicing their concern over team radios. On lap 33, the race was red flagged and after an hour – with drivers sat on the start-finish line waiting for the rain to stop – the decision was made to abandon the event completely. Counting back to lap 31, Button was declared the winner, with Nick Heidfeld taking second and Timo Glock third. As the race hadn’t reached 75% distance, only half points were awarded.
Many don’t associate Australia with pouring rain (this writer is heading there later this year!), but the climax to the 1991 season lasted less than half an hour and several hair-raising incidents. Ayrton Senna and Nigel Mansell battled for the lead, but had to also contend with negotiating wrecked cars on or around the track edge. Nelson Piquet, Michele Alboreto and Gerhard Berger (twice) were some of the bigger names that aquaplaned into retirement, before Mansell himself lost it on lap 16, and Senna then gestured to the race officials to stop the race – a ironic reverse of Monaco 1984, when Senna was the chasing driver. They relented, and attempts to restart were met with protest from Senna and Ricardo Patrese. Eventually, the race was stopped and counted back to 14 laps, making it the shortest race in F1 history.