McLaren rainmaster on driving in the wet-stuff
The last two Grands Prix have had mixed weather conditions, what’s the secret behind wet-weather driving in a Formula 1 car?
“The key to racing in the wet is to get the tyres up to their optimal operating temperature where they can perform at their best, it is also important to find the grip levels. Driving styles also change depending on the weather conditions and you need to occasionally drive different lines to find where the grip is on the track. You need to have lightning reactions for driving in the wet as you never know what to expect, but I feel that my reactions have been good – I can be on the limit and be comfortable in changing conditions. The race at Monza was a typical example, I found the grip levels of my tyres very quickly and then tried to manage them during the race to maximise the life of the tyres while still gaining performance.”
Can you pick a particular favourite wet weather drive?
“Silverstone and Monaco both stand out – they’re very close but Silverstone stands out for sure. I was under an extreme amount of pressure to produce a good result for the team and myself and it all went perfect – well, nearly almost perfect. I had an aquaplaning moment across the grass but otherwise I was really happy with my performance given the incredibly tricky conditions.”
Is it harder this year without traction control?
“No, not really. For me, it is back to the basics of driving and controlling the race car with feeling the grip levels and controlling conditions like wheelspin, oversteer and understeer. I’m really surprised that we’re not sliding or aquaplaning so much, but don’t forget, that’s how racing used to be in the past and also with the GP2 cars. Traction control was great, but I’m really enjoying having the feeling of control back in my hands, or in my feet should I say.”
Is it easier to overtake in the wet?
“In the wet, it’s easier to overtake because there are multiple lines you can take to get past. You don’t have to be on the optimal line like in the dry. Also people go slower through the corners so you have the opportunity to get closer to them. Wet weather creates more opportunities for overtaking and slipstreaming.”
The last four races – it’s likely we’ll see rain at some of them, how do you feel about that?
“I have no problems with it raining again, but I’m going to do my best to make sure we’re strong in Q3 for all four remaining races if that is the case; I don’t want another weekend like last weekend, that’s for sure. “
Was Spa the best it can get?
“I hope not. Spa was incredible, but I have no doubt in my mind that it can and will get better. I’m still only in my second year of Formula 1, I’ve got a great car and a great team with many years of experience and I’m still learning. I think after my third year in Formula 1 I will be ready to judge. I’ve got a lot more learning to do and many more races to go in my career before I can say which is the best.”
What are you looking forward to in Singapore?
“I’m looking forward to the excitement of racing on a new street circuit. Street circuits are my favourite and so it will be interesting. I’m also looking forward to visiting the country, sampling the food and just generally experiencing the whole place and the people.”