Rainy F1 Racing Is an Underdog’s Paradise
After a weekend full of rain, rain, and more rain, we’re less than half-an-hour away from qualifying at the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas. Heavy and continuous rain over the past two days forced race organizers to cancel an entire practice session and delay qualifying. Now, tens of thousands of soaked but happy race fans are ready to see some cars driven in anger.
Qualifying is often the most exciting part of the weekend. Rather than worrying about extensive strategy considerations over a 191-mile, 56-lap race, teams and drivers are focused on getting that one perfect lap. In a sport where passing is tricky, good position on the starting grid can make a driver’s weekend.
Victory often comes on Saturday, but this week, qualifying is on Sunday, a couple hours before the race. It’s a compressed timetable that will see race teams frantically getting everything in order, especially if someone puts their car in the wall (not unlikely in these slick conditions).
But the beauty of a wet qualifying (and potential for a dry race later) is that the field is more even. Driver skill takes precedent over engine power, and teams that typically race at the back of the pack can find themselves in the thick of the action.
McLaren driver Jenson Button, who has had a terrible year thanks to an underpowered Honda engine, is a master of racing in the rain. Even F1 newcomer (and American driver at his home race) Alexander Rossi has some potential snatch a starting position he wouldn’t normally be able to get near. “It mixes things up,” he says. “In our current position having the rain is a good thing.”
Qualifying starts at 9AM central time.
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