September 05, 2008

F1 Practice: SPA 2008!

"If it rains at Spa... park it."
-Unnamed F1 Driver.
The second Friday practice went green, and everybody piled out onto the track in the Ardennes Forest.  Usually, the teams will trickle onto a circuit during a practice session, but not today... for the radar screen showed rain coming.

Unfortunately for everyone, when the rains did come about 20 minutes into the session, it was basically a heavy drizzle: too wet for dry tires, but not wet enough for intermediates.  So, following the guidelines of the old aphorism mentioned above, everybody went back to their paddocks and waited.  As the Legendary Announce Team pointed out, there are times when the only thing you can accomplish in practice is learning how to stuff your car into the tire barriers.  This was one of those times.

After a half hour or so, SeaBass went out to give it a whirl... and wound up crawling back into the pits.  Still too wet.  So we sat some more.  Fifteen minutes passed, and Sebastian Vettel went out alone.  Three laps later, with none of them within 4 seconds of the fast lap in dry weather, the teams decided that the track was dry enough to get some more running in.

Until Kimi Raikkonen lost it in the Rivage hairpin.  He backed into the tire wall, breaking off his rear wing.  Unbeknown to everybody, when he hit the barrier, he gave them a hard enough shot that the rain that had accumulated in the stacked tires squirted out, like squeezing a wet sponge.  The water began to trickle downhill... and across the track. 

At this point, Giancarlo Fisichella came charging through Rivage, and just as he exited the turn hit this thin stream... and really lost it.  Out came the red flag, stopping practice as they had to carry the Force India off-track, dangling from a mobile crane.

While there were 15 minutes of mostly uninterrupted practice after that, today just showed what can happen at Spa when the rain comes.  The producers at SPEED got to drag out the infamous clip of the start of the 1998 race... the most expensive crash in motor-racing history.

All together now: AIEEEEEEEEEEE!
13 cars wrecked, four whole teams out, total carnage!  And, amazingly, the only injuries were to Rubens Barrichello, who had some bumps and bruises.  Hopefully, we won't have a similar incident this year... because remember, folks, it's supposed to rain all weekend.

Quals on Saturday.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 10:38 PM | Comments (6) | Add Comment
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1 Jeezus Christ, what a zoo in that video clip. It reminds me of the year they botched the start at Indy and took out about half the cars. It was so bad that they called off the race for that day, and tried it again the following day. (I can't remember which year that was, though.)

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 05, 2008 11:59 PM (+rSRq)

2

The driver that started the whole maniacial mess was none other than David Coulthard's Chin.  He got forced wide at La Source, and I think what happened is that he got his left-side tires into the grass (or whatever it is at that spot on the track), and voomph! 

Note to self: demolition derbies with carbon-fiber cars don't work well.

Posted by: Wonderduck at September 06, 2008 12:03 AM (DcSb+)

3 I just did a bunch of googling and I can't figure out what year that was. I do remember that so many cars got wrecked, that the next day when they started again they let in every car that was still operational, even the ones who had failed to qualify, just so they could have a full field.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 06, 2008 12:09 AM (+rSRq)

4 Are you thinking of maybe the 1996 US 500?

Posted by: Wonderduck at September 06, 2008 12:32 AM (DcSb+)

5 I just went through a list of all Indy 500s that were delayed until the next day (1967, '73, '82, '86, '97, '04 and '07) and none of them match the circumstances you've mentioned, so I'm stumped!

Posted by: Wonderduck at September 06, 2008 12:42 AM (DcSb+)

6 It looks like 1966 is the one I was thinking of. And I remembered wrong about them delaying the race for a day.

Posted by: Steven Den Beste at September 06, 2008 09:50 AM (+rSRq)

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