World Champions Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel have stated that wider tyres and high downforce levels are the leading causes of Formula 1’s wet weather visibility issues, with this issue causing last weekend’s Belgium Grand Prix to be effectively cancelled.
After a weekend dogged by poor weather and a number of incidents in practice and qualifying, Sunday’s Grand Prix barely lasted two laps behind the safety car before being red-flagged and effectively called off.
Formula 1 had raced in conditions similar, with an example being in Fuji in 2007 when the race was marred by heavy rain, which had made conditions almost undrivable, but unlike last weekend in Spa, the race did start after a number of laps were completed behind the safety car.
When asked about comparisons to Fuji 2007, Vettel believed that the sport hadn’t become safety-obsessed and stated that the current generation of cars and tyres had caused further spray than in previous years, possibly causing the Belgian Grand Prix not to start.
"I think the appetite for risk is the same as it was back then," explained Vettel. "I think we're happy to race providing it safe. I think the cars have changed. I think there's significantly more ground effect with the cars that we have now and more downforce. We seem to suck more water off the ground.
"And then the tyres have changed as well. I think the extreme wet tyres that we had, I remember those days made it easier for us to race in very, very wet conditions with a lot of water on the track."
Alonso, who crashed out of that particular race, agreed with his fellow World Champion, stating that the size of tyres previously used in appalling conditions may have helped with aquaplaning as well as being more robust.
"Tyres is the biggest thing that changed over the years, I think the cars, for whatever reason, or the new aerodynamic rules, they have more spray when you are running behind people, and our tyres are wider now than what they were in 2007.”
"Probably the extreme tyres were a little bit stronger back then. Maybe the size of the tyre was helping for the aquaplaning. Plus there is the nature of the circuit. I think Spa being at that high speed, with these long straights, the spray was holding there for a long time.”
"So I think the conditions were not suitable to race. It was [only] a matter of time that a big accident could happen. And I think the FIA wanted to avoid that. That was the right call. "Giving the points, this is a different thing. I totally disagree with that. But the conditions to not race, I totally agree."