Riders on the storm
Circuit of The Americas, Friday October 23
Lightning storms and heavy rains washed out most of Friday’s free practice at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas.
Both Fernando and Jenson ran a busy morning session, dodging showers to conduct a series of power unit and aerodynamic tests. However, the weather worsened over the lunchbreak, becoming so bad that this afternoon’s FP2 was first delayed, due to the danger of marshals being hit by lightning, then cancelled entirely after it was established that the medical helicopter would be unable to take to the air before it became to dark for practice to continue safely.
#14 Fernando Alonso
FP1 1m56.839s (+2.850s) 18 laps 9th
No running – session cancelled
“It’s a pity we couldn’t get any running under our belts this afternoon. We had a productive morning session, running through some power unit and aero evaluations. There’s definitely progress being made, and it would’ve been nice to have further validated those changes in FP2.
“This afternoon, the rain was just too heavy for us to run safely. I can’t remember the last time I saw weather like that – it was unbelievable.
“In these situations, the highest priority is to keep the fans and competitors safe – so we made the right decision today.
#22 Jenson Button
FP1 1m57.495s (+3.506s) 20 laps 13th
FP2 No running – session cancelled
“It’s always disappointing to have to cancel a session, but I think this afternoon’s decision was entirely correct – the track was never in a sufficiently safe condition to enable us to run, and the loss of daylight meant it wasn’t possible to prolong the session either.
“That’s a real pity for all the fans who came to the track today. The main thing is that people stayed safe – particularly with the proximity of the lightning today. It’s always difficult when these things happen. As racing drivers, we try our best, but weren’t able to do anything today.
“Although the forecast doesn’t necessarily predict it, here’s hoping for a better day tomorrow.”
Racing director, McLaren-Honda
Racing director, McLaren-Honda
“There are sometimes days when the fans question teams’ reasons not to run in wet weather. Today, however, I think it was apparent to everyone that the conditions were clearly impossible; much of the track was underwater, there were puddles everywhere, huge cloaks of mist shrouded large parts of the circuit, track workers were at risk of being struck by lightning, and, eventually, the medical helicopter was unable to run safely. Non, this afternoon, we could not run.
“Nonetheless, I feel for the fans who had visited today in the hope of seeing some Formula 1 action. I hope they understand the reasons why we couldn’t run today, but hopefully we’ll be able to put on a fantastic show for them during the rest of the weekend.”
Honda R&D senior managing officer - chief officer of motorsport
“Our first grand prix in Austin started in very wet conditions.
“Obviously, we had hoped for more running time to achieve both power unit and aero update settings, however the heavy rain in the afternoon meant that it was necessary to cancel FP2. It was the correct decision for the safety of the fans and the teams.
“Thankfully, we were able to get some mileage under belts in the morning FP1 session, by running both cars in the semi-dry conditions. This also gave us more fundamental data on Fernando's updated ICE.
“Tomorrow looks to be another wet day, so tonight's data analysis will be very important for the team.”