MARCH 23, 2011
Ecclestone not giving up on artificial rain
Bernie Ecclestone says that his idea of introducing sprinklers on certain circuits to simulate rain and spice up F1 races is not dead, but gaining support.
'It's surprising how much support it is getting now," he said, "and provided we did it so that nobody knows when it is going to happen, I think it would make for a lot of entertainment."
Mark Webber was an early dissenter but the idea has the support of new F1 tyre supplier Pirelli, whose motorsport director said: "It's not as daft as it sounds." Johnny Herbert, who attended a number of races as an FIA steward in 2010, has now lent a voice of support.
F1 purists run a mile from the very notion, claiming that the idea is far too artificial, while others see it as a legitimate skill challenge and ask what the difference is between sprinklers and tyres designed to wear at an artificially high rate in order to stimulate more on-track interest.
The largest opposition to Ecclestone's plan though, is likely to be safety concerns. Lack of visibility is always a key issue in wet F1 races and while drivers accept that the need for the show to go on means that there are times when they will be forced to race in the rain, none of them would choose to. The idea of multiplying the risk factor on a random whim is likely to meet with stern resistance, not to mention possible legal implications if a driver was injured as a result of deliberately induced wet track.