Drivers frustrated by aquaplaning on Pirelli’s wet tires

Kimi Raikkonen gets out of his car after crashing on the pit straight during the Formula One Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on Nov. 13, 2016 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)
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Pirelli’s wet-weather tires came under a lot of criticism in Brazil after drivers struggled with aquaplaning even in what was most regarded as comparatively light rain.

Kimi Raikkonen was one of three drivers to crash in the race, losing control on the pit straight. The consensus is that the current tire does not disperse water as effectively as was the case in the past.

“The biggest problem was the aquaplaning and I got it in a place where I was not expecting it,” said Raikkonen. “I spun off on the straight I almost got the car back, but then I went off in a pretty bad place. The Wet tires are very vulnerable, easy to aquaplaning. It obviously depends on the circuit and on many other things, but comparing to some years ago, those tires could handle this kind of water with no issues of aquaplaning.”

“It’s down to the tires, you know, not coping well with the aquaplaning,” agreed Nico Rosberg. “We know that and we’ve been working on that now for next year and so we’re hopeful to make progress on that. Of course it would be good, you know, if it wasn’t so on the edge as soon as there’s a bit of standing water.”

Max Verstappen pointed out that with next year’s high downforce cars, the problem will be reduced: “I think it’s a combination of having more horsepower now, so more torque, so the cars are speeding up more and less downforce at the moment.

“I think next year it should be solved already, it will be much easier to drive the cars in the wet because of having quite a lot more downforce on the race. Of course, I think we can do improvements on the tires, we’re working on that for next year, but I think that with more downforce that should help already.”

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton played down any concerns.

“This is Formula One and the rain conditions are the trickiest conditions,” said the World Champion. “If everyone just went round and didn’t make mistakes it would be too easy and then everyone could do it.

“We are going at some serious speeds and there is a lot of water to disperse by the tires and the tire just struggles; the faster we go, the harder it is for the tires. This wasn’t a particularly difficult race in terms of being wet, there’s been much much worse races in terms of aquaplaning.”