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Wet and chaotic Brazilian GP in prospect
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Wet and chaotic Brazilian GP in prospect
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Oct 2009   |  9:01 am GMT  |  56 comments

The Brazilian Grand Prix is always a hard one to predict, just ask Lewis Hamilton. But when rain is forecast, anything can happen.

Button could really do without this (Photo: Darren Heath)

Button could really do without this (Photo: Darren Heath)


And this weekend is not looking great. Showers are forecast for Friday and Saturday and on race day they are talking about thunderstorms. On each day there is a 60% chance of rain.

Last year the rain played havoc with the race and set us up for one of the most thriling climaxes to a Grand Prix in years. It started to rain in the closing stages and the front-runners didn’t want to take any chances so pitted for wet tyres with a few laps to go. But the two Toyotas gambled on staying out on dry tyres. The rain fell harder in the last two laps and Timo Glock’s gamble failed to pay off, Hamilton passed him with on the penultimate corner and came through to win the world title. But it can be very finely balanced like that.

Jenson Button could do with a nice predictable weekend and a solid podium to finish things off in style. A chaotic race in the rain is the last thing he needs. It only takes one small slip and you are out of the race. Vettel and Barrichello will both view this weekend as an opportunity, they have nothing to lose and everything to gain from a wet and chaotic race.

If it does get complicated it will present a real challenge for the Brawn strategists to give both drivers and equal amount of attention, whereas Red Bull can focus on Sebastian Vettel.

No-one can have any certainty about their position in the wet at Interlagos, it is one of the most treacherous tracks in the calendar, “The weather can play a decisive role in Interlagos. Heavy rainfall causes rivulets of water on the track, which leads to aquaplaning,” says BMW technical director Willi Rampf.

Remember the race in 2003, where a car park of mangled machinery built up at the bottom of the hill after the Senna S? Even the great Michael Schumacher’s Ferrari ended up in that automotive graveyard. Mind you that was due to the fact that Bridgestone only brought an intermediate tyre to that race, which couldn’t cope with the conditions.

The long drag up the hill into the main passing zone of Turn 1 should give the KERS cars a real advantage and so McLaren are likely to get mixed up at the front with the championship contenders. I also think Toyota could be strong this weekend, coming off the back of two consecutive podiums.

* * *
Incidentally I’ve just found out that next year’s calendar has been changed. It looks like they have moved the Monaco Grand Prix back one week to 16th May. It was originally scheduled to be 23rd May as the first half of a back to back with Turkey, but logistically that was tricky. The following race is in Montreal two weeks after Turkey. I was alerted to it by a hotel, but it’s confirmed on the Automobile Club of Monaco website, even though nothing has been officially announced by Formula 1 management.

If you are planning a Monaco GP trip, you might want to change your reservations..

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56 Comments
  1. Niko says:

    Excellent, we haven’t had a wet race in a while now, and they’re always interesting :-) Of course, that will make for a Red Bull win and, the way they’re going now, will make Brawn struggle for points, setting up a last-round decider between Vettel and Button. It would be a shame not to see Rubens win his home race, but I think Seb has the better chance to take the title fight to Button, particularly since Red Bull were so good at Singapore.

  2. Rob A says:

    “Timo Glock’s gamble failed to pay off” – Timo gained a position by taking this gamble, from memory he was running 7th before the rain fell and finished 6th at the end. So it did pay off for Timo!

  3. martin_tf says:

    Not the best news for Button (though I hope he can win the title this weekend) but excellent news for those of us who want to watch an exciting race.

  4. jw1980 says:

    A good article James. I have just come back from a long break in the USA where I have been following F1 on Speed TV which was a lot better than I was expecting.
    With regards to Toyota’s gamble at last year’s Brazil GP did it not pay off for Glock? Had the status quo be maintained i.e. no rain or Glock changed tyres just like everyone else he would have finished 7th instead of 6th? Okay he lost places in the last couple of laps but only to cars who were originally in front of him prior to the pitstops (was it Heikki he got ahead off)?
    Don’t forget a wet and chaotic race means only one mistake and Vettel and Barrichello could be out of the championship. With nothing to lose Hamilton, Alonso, Sutil et al will be going for it. Vettel needs at least a second and Barrichello fourth. It gives them very little margin for error.
    Finally where will the British GP be next year? This is rumbling on forever!

    1. monktonnik says:

      Thanks for putting a positive spin on JB’s chances.

      I still think he is good in the wet, Hungary 2006 anyone?

    2. Michael P says:

      Silverstone where it belongs. Cheers

  5. David Turnedge says:

    Oh good. Exciting race in prospect. Makes a change from the last few boring races. Always count on Brazil for a great race.

  6. PaulL says:

    Do you think the rain will advantage any particular car? Red Bull?

    Btw, Glock did gain one place (from 7th to 6th) by not pitting for intermediate tyres so technically speaking the gamble did pay off to a degree. Of course ifs and buts don’t mean anything, but Glock did lose about 4-5 seconds at his last pitstop with a slow fuel hose on which put him back behind some more cars – Hamilton beat him by 5 seconds in the end. Fortunate in that sense!

  7. James says:

    Jenson isn’t too shabby in wet conditions either though, that has to be noted. Silverstone last year he was unfortunate and he won in Hungary in 2006. The line from yourself, James, “Jenson Button wiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiins!” cant be forgotten after Hungary that year!

    Could be a tough weekend for the Brawns though who aren’t too good in the rain, whereas the Red Bull are although have the issue of engine management.

    Given the forecast for the race, will Bridgestone be bringing extra wet and intermediate tyres with them?

  8. David Hodge says:

    “If it does get complicated it will present a real challenge for the Brawn strategists to give both drivers and equal amount of attention, whereas Red Bull can focus on Sebastian Vettel.”

    If the reports are true about Rubens being off to Williams, then I think the Brawn strategists will be giving more of their attention to the other car.

  9. Nick Caulfield says:

    Glock’s gamble *did* pay off.
    Although he was passed by Hamilton for 5th, he still finished 6th rather than the 7th place he could have expected had he gone in.

  10. Ned says:

    But didn’t Giancarlo Fisichella win on Bridgestone intermediate tyres at Interlagos 2003?

    1. Adrian says:

      Well yes, but since everyone was on them (no full wets)..someone had to!!

  11. rpaco says:

    Lets hope that Bridgestone are allowed to bring more inter and wet tyres to Brazil or we could have repeat of the last race, but with much more serious consequences.

  12. john g says:

    timo glocks’ gamble failed to pay off… apart from the fact that (iirc) he made up some places by staying out. everyone focuses on hamilton going past (or glock ‘letting him past’!!) without mentioning that he wouldn’t have been that far up had he come in for wet tyres.

    anyway, that mini rant aside, i hope to see rain at interlagos – the cars are just too underpowered and grippy now that they are no fun to watch. back in teh 60′s and 70′s, even if cars weren’t overtaking they were exciting to watch. they are like slot cars now. rain brings the driver skill back to the fore, and mixes things up a bit more. as long as we don’t have another kuala lumpur anti climax…

    1. Anthony says:

      if he made up the places, then why do you say it didnt pay off? whats the purpose of everything in F1? isnt it gaining places??

  13. Chris says:

    Button won the last chaotic wet race (Malaysia). Well, scored half-points for a win, so he is capable of getting results in such circumstances. Button has a comfortable cushion so he’d drive cautiously, you would presume. In comparison, Barrichello and Vettel need to win so they would be taking more risks. So it works both ways really.

  14. Adrian says:

    James,

    Are you able to comment on the rumours coming through some websites saying that Williams will announce this weekend that Rubens will be driving for them in 2010?

    1. James Allen says:

      Well it’s been on the cards for some time. If you look back at my post of a couple of weeks ago.

      1. Adrian says:

        Hi James,

        Yes I read all your posts. Sorry I should have worded my question differently…

        Are you able to comment any further than you already have on whether the deal is done between Rubens and Williams..??

  15. Jenson’s about the only one wishing for an ordered (dull?) GP; I think I speak for most enthusiasts when I say the unpredictability of rain affected races are a big attraction!

    SS7

  16. Andy Fov says:

    I don’t see rain as necessarily a bad thing for Button. It’s Vettel and Barrichello who NEED to score big points this weekend. Any slip-up from either of them and their championship is over.

  17. Just A Bloke (Martin) says:

    Sounds great, bring it on. Lets see some actual on track overtaking and heaven forbid some outbraking and committed off line overtaking.

    I totally appreciate why Jenson will want a cautious approach, and I do wish him all the luck in the world to bring home the title, but I want to see a racing spectacle.

    Wet weather and low grip sorts them out, and reduces the impact of engine variability, so long as there is a reasonable amount of visibility we should be in for a cracker.

  18. Ed says:

    James,

    Surely a wet race will make it just as difficult for RB and SV. If anything those two fighting at the front in the wet could easily mean chaos if they take each other off trying to minimise Buttons advantage. Surely Button would be better to go heavyish from around 6th and play his strategy according to the weather. Now that Rubens is off to Williams (I assume you agree this is going to happen…) don’t you think RB will maybe do all he can to ensure that JB wins it this weekend so he can start negoiating to get the no.1 on his car for 2010.

    Also, is there an email address to ask you questions without posting on the blog? I was looking a while ago and I have forgotton whatever the question was now but I wanted to ask you at the time.

    Finally, would you consider Button and unworthy champion?

    1. James Allen says:

      The email address is to the left here. I think Button would be a worthy champion, taking his whole career and the first half of this season into account

      1. Anthony says:

        Taking his whole career and the last half of this season, he wouldnt be a worthy champion. Worthy champions dont take 113 grand prix to win a race for the first time. Even if they start in a bad car, a good team would have seen his talent (as did McLaren with kimi, or ferrari with massa)…

      2. Anthony says:

        Taking into account the whole of his career and the last half of this season, he wouldnt be a worthy champion. Worthy champions dont take 113 races to win their first grand prix. Even if they start in a bad car, some good time will see their talent as they did with kimi, massa, alonso, etc. and will give them a good car.

        none of that happened to Button, just luck.

  19. Jared says:

    Does Bernie Ecclestone realize that if we were on his medal system, Jenson would have had the driver’s championship a few races ago and there would be little drama remaining in the season? Believe that is one of the worst ideas ever proposed in F1.

    1. Kemdi says:

      The world and his grandmother knew that that was a silly idea. I’ve just read – on a different website – that he now wants it to go down to the wire.

      1. Jared says:

        Read the comment about Ecclestone wanting the championship to go down to the Yas Marina.

        Can’t find the link, but he still wants the medal system and has said so recently. He counters the argument with Button would have clinched the championship several races ago saying that teams would have caught up to the pace of Brawn quicker and the 2nd place guy would have tried harder to pass. Hey old man Bernie, the teams were working as hard as possible to catch up and can’t test anything anyways and passing at the front of the grid is extremely difficult, even with a slower car in front of you. He just doesn’t get it one bit.

  20. Érico says:

    Neither Massa not Hamilton wanted a wet and chaotic Brazilian GP last year, but they had one and still got the job done. And that’s because Massa was supposed to be a poor wet driver. Wet, dry, soaked or blazing, Button needs to get the job done this weekend. No excuses. He’ll even get some help from Lewis and Kimi (because Kovi and Fisi don’t really count) if KERS makes a significant difference in qualifying.

  21. Nick says:

    I think rain could well play in to Jenson’s hands. Although rain does risk his chances of finishing, and will play into the hands of Vettel who always seems to go well in the wet, it could also help him to score points, as the KERS cars will be at a greater disadvantage, both unable to use their extra power, and not having optimum weight distribution in the wet where the lower speeds will reduce downforce and make the cars more sensitive.

    The advantage of having Ross brawn to make strategy calls if the weather is changeable should also not be forgotten

  22. Diaminedave says:

    Hi James,

    Bit off topic but just wondered if you had any information as to why Glock crashed in Japan?
    At the time it looked to me like he was turning his steering wheel but there appeared to be no movement of the front wheels.

    all the best Dave

  23. Silverstoned says:

    If my sums are correct, Vettel has to finish on the podium with the Brawns out of the points: not exactly the most unlikely of scenarios.
    Hamilton likes aquatics and he has nothing to lose in going for the win.
    But I’m going to tip Sutil for the win or 2nd to Vettel. He’s also handy in the wet and the track suits the car.

    1. Silverstoned says:

      ps anyone got a berth in Monaco for a 300 ft yacht for w/end of May16? willing to swap similar for May 23rd all usual extras included

  24. ashley edwards says:

    James

    would it give vettel a better chance of wining because the car works a lot than the other cars?

  25. rpaco says:

    Amazing how many drivers are suddenly known to be good in the wet!

    Looking forward to an exciting unpredictable race, but will we see any practice?

  26. Dulait says:

    There has been a lot of press recently regarding Button’s worthiness of the champions’ crown.

    He is unfortunate in the sense that he produced his series of scintillating drives at the front end of the season, which increasingly fade from memory with each passing race.

    Had the season been reversed, with Button having had a anonymous start, picking off small points, whilst mounting a stunning charge over the second half of the season resulting in him overhauling the points leader in the final race to be crowned champion; would your opinion of his supposed champion credentials differ?

    My guess is it would. It shouldn’t be forgotten that the season is 17 races long, not as long as our minds allow us to recollect with lucidity.

    1. George says:

      A very good point well made Dulait. Kimi had a relatively inauspicious start to his championship campaign in 2007 (Australia notwithstanding) before rocketing home in the final rounds.

      No one considered that Kimi was an unworthy champion. Button is very much the reverse of that.

      1. casey says:

        Agreed. Other than the stewards decisions it’s a level playing field. I’d like nothing better than Button to just win the darn race in Brazil and be done with it all. And then have him sign where he’s most appreciated.

  27. Calum says:

    Hi James!
    I will miss your commentating on a title decider this year! F1 just isn’t the same without you!
    Do you think Rubens is sick of being the number two driver and thats why he is in talks with Williams?

    1. James Allen says:

      No, it’s a good opportunity. He’s not a number two anyway

      1. Calum says:

        Thanks for the reply, made my day!
        Rubens is really proving himself this year, so you are right to say hes not a number two. It would be interesting to see him in a Williams as the car has definatly progressed this season.
        One more thing, Where do you predict Kimi Raikkonen to be next year? Back at Mclaren? Or a spot of Rallying?

  28. Snowy says:

    “If it does get complicated it will present a real challenge for the Brawn strategists to give both drivers and equal amount of attention

    So will the FIA be installing observers in either side of the Brawn garage to ensure both drivers get equal treatment and a fair shot at the title like they did at McLaren with Alonso/Hamilton back in 2007?

    Of course not – that was just McLaren bashing and the typical sort of ad-hoc, inconsistent, nonsensical garbage we’ve come to expect from the FIA in recent (and maybe not so recent) years!

    Whoever wins will be a worthy champion.

  29. CTP says:

    actually, hamilton passed glock on the ultimate corner last year.

    imagine if jenson’s results were reversed for the season, i.e., crappy start, and blazing finish… everyone would be lauding him as sensational, etc.

  30. Darren says:

    Button is blinding in the wet, i believe he will get more point in a wet race than a dry one.

  31. Paige Michael-Shetley says:

    Red Bull would be jumping for joy if it’s a wet race. They’ve got by far the best car for getting the tires up to temperature, and Vettel is certainly one of the two drivers in the argument for best wet weather racer. (The other being Hamilton.) Webber is also a good wet weather driver, so they’d have a very good chance of repeating China and taking a 1-2 finish. This, of course, would be very welcome to Vettel’s championship effort.

    The problem for Vettel is that Button is very good in the wet, too. While the Brawn may not be up to contending for a win, it should be at least good enough for Button to put into the top-5, which would lock up the championship for him.

    If it’s dry, I’d expect it to be a McLaren weekend. Red Bull will have the measure in the quick corners in Sector One, but McLaren will have them in the slow corners in Sector Two and will have a huge advantage with KERS in the super-long flat out stretch from Sector Three to turn one. The wet weather will change that, obviously, and it will mainly become a matter of getting heat into the tires. The McLaren in Hamilton’s hands is pretty good and better than the Brawn at doing this, and KERS should still be an advantage in the flat-out stretch as long as Hamilton deploys it at a higher speed to reduce wheelspin.

  32. Ian Blackwell says:

    Its impossible to say anybody has the advantage in the wet. In the dry, the Red Bulls can be confident they are quicker than almost every other car out there. In the wet, they have as good a chance as any other car as teams that would normally not figure in the race become factors.

    Wet races in Brazil have been anything but boring in the past. If anybody fancies a punt at this stage for the race how about Fisichella? I think you can get 100-1 out there. I remember him winning a race in Brazil ages ago in a woefully slow Jordan in apalling conditions.

  33. Fanco says:

    Being a wet race. More drivers will have the potential to take the win from the chaos that associate with wet weather. Slower cars can potentially take the win from Red Bulls.

    SV & RB needs to win to stay in the hunt. JB only needs a solid points finish to make it out of reach for SV & RB.

    Pressure is definitely going to be on the two chasing, if they gain no or little points, they are finished for 2009.

    Keeping in mind JB is not too shabby in the wet, first win Hungry is in the wet, and he didn’t have the fastest car in the Honda. So he may well seal the title in Brazil. I wouldn’t bet against him.

  34. T Jones says:

    Which other car is a match for the Red Bull in the wet? There isn’t one, is there?

  35. Doozer says:

    James, this is a bit off topic (and apologies if you have addressed this previously) but who has the right to the #1 car number, the drivers champion or the team?

    Specifically, I am curious to know what happens should Mr Barrichello win the drivers championship and goes to another team for 2010. Does the #1 go with him or does Brawn GP have a solid claim to it as the constructors champion?

    Separately, I agree with previous posters (in other articles) that your site is the most insightful Formula 1 website around and I do appreciate how you are open to answering your commenters’ queries.

    1. James Allen says:

      The world champion driver. If Rubens won the title he would take #1 to Williams

  36. Budvar says:

    Possible wet weather weekend eh? Sutil 50/1 sounds the value bet for the weekend then!

  37. Jos The Boss says:

    I read a Forecast saying 80% chance of rain on Sat and Sunday so could be in for a repeat of 2003, although it’d be even more Bizarre if Fisi won now than when he was in the Jordan.

    On the driver market front, I can’t believe McLaren haven’t confirmed Kimi yet, must be personal terms, cos no way you’d want to keep Heikki when you had the choice of Kimi, Heidfeld, Rosberg or Sutil – thats at least 3 drivers a lot better than him. As DC said in Japan, him and Brundle were under way more pressure when driving for Mclaren despite doing a far better job. He’s right, Heikki is a donkey, but whitmarsh is always going on about what a great guy he is and how they want to see him suceed. Too little too late though, he’ll be lucky to get a gig for one of the new teams.

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