Watching the Rain
Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado watched on as rain fell throughout the day in Austin ahead of the United States Grand Prix, eventually forcing qualifying into tomorrow morning to create a bumper day of Formula 1 action.
There was to be a brief foray into Austin’s new river for both drivers, with a few wet tyre runs keeping the pair on their toes.
Worsening conditions meant that short runs were the best option, with several of the grid battling a lack of grip on an already challenging circuit.
“The conditions were on the limit as to whether we could run,” said Romain. “There were a few slides which was good fun!”
“We got some laps in the morning and it was very slippery on track,” reflected Pastor. “We learnt some things and it’s the first time we ran in wet conditions here. Every lap you gain more confidence in the track so it also helped with car balance too and we modified the setup to help us too.”
There was some benefit to the running, but with most of the day spent watching from the pitlane, everyone was impressed with the Formula 1 fans that lined the circuits in the afternoon despite the lack of running.
“The weather was pretty extreme and I really feel for all the fans who braved the elements to come watch us,” said Romain. “I was impressed with everyone in the grandstands who stayed and I wanted to bring them all a beer!”
Pastor added: “I’m sorry that everyone at the track had a wasted day.”
In weather like this, Romain rued leaving the wetsuit at home, potentially ending our efforts at swiftly building a boat to rival Sauber and Force India’s efforts.
Although Romain had another form of transport in mind: “Many years ago as part of the Renault Driver Programme I enjoyed surfing as part of the training,” he said. “This would have been really useful had we tried to qualifying today!”
Also holding a boat license, Romain was likely to be the most qualified man for the monsoon.
His team-mate meanwhile, summarised the day: “There’s nothing you can do about the weather and it’s been a pretty long day waiting to see if the weather would improve.”
That summary, unsurprisingly, was shared with Trackside Operations Director Alan Permane who described the day as “unproductive.”
Despite the standing around under the covers, tomorrow will see a much busier day as all teams have to balance qualifying and the race’s demands back to back.
“It will make for a busy race day,” he said. “The weather is predicted to be better tomorrow, however there’s still a chance of rain. It’s going to be important for both cars to come through qualifying with minimal issues as there will only be a short time between qualifying and the race.”
That busy schedule will also throw up challenges in terms of data and strategy.
“We have less time to work on strategy permutations based on starting position and we don’t have much dry run data. If it’s wet there are the usual wet weather considerations.”