Date:Thursday November 17 2016
Ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix there was a huge amount of excitement regarding the potential for a wet race at Interlagos.
FIA Formula One Race Director Charlie Whiting was hoping to start the race not behind the safety car, giving the watching spectators at the track and watching around the world the excitement of 22 cars hurtling towards the first corner in the rain.
All the drivers, bar the exception of Max Verstappen, as he had a painted line across his grid slot and the Mercedes drivers of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg, who were on the front row thus having the most to lose, all wanted a standing start.
Even Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda backed the calls for a standing start.
But then Romain Grosjean, who had qualified in seventh place crashed on an install lap heading up the hill on the final corner.
His race was over before it began.
ďI saw two other cars having the same issue Ė so we need to improve the wet tyres. In my case I was not even pushing.
ďIt shows that the extreme tyre is a very poor tyre and there is no grip. You have to take a huge amount of risk, you can't control the car in a straight line. Grosjean told motorsport.com.
The race start was delayed by ten minutes with Brazil promoting suggesting that the new drainage system just needed a bit longer to work.
Eventually the race got under way, but under the safety car and after eight laps the safety car was in and the race was underway.
After a near miss from Sebastian Vettel, Marcus Ericsson crashed into the wall bringing the safety car back out.
There had been just five laps of racing.
'I lost the car going up the hill on the way to the start-finish-line, because of standing water on the track Ė at the end I was just a passenger. Ericsson told formula1.com.
As the cars followed the safety car around for another seven laps, Renault's Kevin Magnussen had the following conversation over team radio.
'The track is way to wet now,' said Magnussen.
'Is it too wet for inters?' ask Renault.
'I think it is too wet for all tyres,' K-Mag said and was proved right as when the safety car came in there was immediate carnage as Kimi Raikkonen slammed his Ferrari into the wall on the straight, luckily being missed by all of the runners behind him.
Toro Rosso's Carlos Sainz told motorsport.com after the race: 'For me, it's very easy from home to say 'oh, these guys, why aren't they racing, this isn't F1 anymore'. From inside, it's unbelievable how difficult it was, how dangerous it was,'
'I found Kimi spun completely in front of me, and I was just 10 metres from hitting him at 300kph. From 300 to zero, you can imagine the magnitude of the crash.
'Aquaplaning was really high, I don't blame the race director for being that tiny bit easy on the conditions, because it was very, very difficult.'
Speaking to formula1.com, Kimi Raikkonen added: it was very tricky, and when you do many laps behind the Safety Car it gets even more difficult. It was not raining heavily, but there was a lot of standing water. The biggest problem was the aquaplaning and I got it in a place where I was not expecting it: I spun off on the straight! I almost got the car back, but then I went off in a pretty bad place. The Wet tires are very vulnerable, easy to aquaplaning. It obviously depends on the circuit and on many other things, but comparing to some years ago, those tires could handle this kind of water with no issues of aquaplaning.'
On that same re-start Renault driver Jolyon Palmer crashed into the back of Toro Rosso's Kvyat on the main straight due to the lack of visibility.
Palmer would eventually retire while the race was under a red flag.
'I just couldnít see anything. Kvyat in front of me was slower and I hit him. Around the lap, the visibility wasnít too bad and there were some places where you aquaplaned but coming up the hill you had no traction and couldnít see if you were behind anyone else. You had to guess where you were going, there was water on track and rivers of water running across. It was really tricky.Ē
The cars briefly came out following the first red flag, but it was soon red flagged again in a controversial move by Whiting.
The fans at the track showed their displeasure by booing, Sky Sports coverage criticised the decision, with Martin Brundle saying 'This is a poor show from us. I don't understand this red flag. and they also questioned the Pirelli tyres if Formula One cannot go racing under these conditions.
Formula One World Champion Lewis Hamilton said: 'The track is fine, It's not that wet, It's normal wet conditions.'
The race eventually got underway again, initially under the safety car, but once that came in, Formula One put on a show, with Whiting's decision fully justified.
There was still moments for Max Verstappen, Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg, but until Felipe Massa hit the wall the racing was excellent.
That brought out another safety car and creating a heart touching moment for Massa as he was able to walk down the pit-lane in front of the grand stands, enjoy a guard of honour from Mercedes and Ferrari and embrace his wife and son.
'Itís impossible to explain my feelings from today, for everything that has happened. So much love. We couldnít finish the race. I wanted to finish in the right way, with the flag on the top. Unfortunately, I couldnít, but I think God knows what to do. I was just walking, in front of my people, with this amazing reaction. Not just from the fans but from all the people in Formula One coming out to clap their hands for me. Itís impossible to explain these emotions. I never expected this in my life, I donít think I deserved as much as this. The minimum I can say is thank you very much to everyone, all the people Iíve worked with, all of the fans. I will never forget this day.'
When the green flag fell on this occasion the next one to be seen was the chequered flag.
Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner summed it up perfectly by saying: ďAn extraordinary motor racing day in testing conditions for the drivers and of course the officials.
If you were wondering, Lewis Hamilton won the race. Not that anyone saw much of him as all the drama was behind him as he drove a faultless race avoiding all the issues of others.
In his words: 'For me, one the easier ones. It was a very easy race generally. Usually in the rain here itís the hardest but honestly I didnít have any spins, I didnít really have any moments and it was pretty straightforward.
It's doubtful that anyone else agreed.
Date:Thursday November 17 2016
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