If there’s one thing in Formula 1 that tends to get people excited and normally leads to chaos, it’s rain. It throws out the formbook as driver skill becomes paramount, strategy gets thrown out of the window and races can be won or lost in an instant. So, with that in mind, what have been some of the craziest wet races of F1’s Modern Era?
The 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix – Sepang had a knack for having the heavens opening multiple times across its run on the F1 calendar. Sergio Perez’s near-win in 2012 and Michael Schumacher’s comeback in 2001 sprang to mind. But, we chose 2009 for a torrential downpour, so strong, the race went from Inters on Lap 30 to being Red Flagged on Lap 33 after the Sebastien’s (Buemi and Vettel) both spun out despite being on the Extreme Wet. Jenson Button won, but only got half points as the race didn’t reach 75% distance. One of only six times in F1 history a race was abandoned before full points were given. Remember that, it becomes important later…
The 2007 European Grand Prix – Germany is another country that’s had its fair share of wet race classics in its times like Sebastian Vettel’s epic comeback in 2020. But at the 2007 European GP at the Nurburgring, the cars were out on the warm-up lap when suddenly, the rain came down. This led to chaos in the opening laps with five drivers misjudging the now river heading into Turn 1, including some guy in a McLaren called Lewis Hamilton. The only team to successfully nail the conditions were backmarkers Spyker, who came into the pits before the start for wet tyres, leading to the hilarious scene of Markus Winkelhock briefly leading before the Red Flag came out. The rain eventually dried out and Fernando Alonso would go on to win.
The 2021 Russian Grand Prix – Sochi in 2021 was shaping up to be another DRS procession, but with less than 10 laps to go, the rain came down as Hamilton and Lando Norris played a 200mph game of chicken, with the deteriorating conditions conflicting with the urge to stay out on slicks. Hamilton stopped for Inters with 3 laps left, but Norris stayed out against the advice of his engineers. Norris aquaplaned off the track, gifting Hamilton his 100th F1 victory.
The 2022 Japanese Grand Prix – Drama was the order of the day at Suzuka in 2022, as a Lap 1 crash from Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari led to a scary incident, as Pierre Gasly narrowly missed a tractor on the circuit. After two hours of delays over track conditions, we got a 40-minute timed race that Max Verstappen would dominate en route to his 2nd Championship… but only after mass confusion over how many points would be handed out. Behind Max, we had some great action, such as Esteban Ocon holding off Lewis Hamilton, and Sebastian Vettel beating Fernando Alonso by just 11 thousandths of a second.
The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix – Not just one of the craziest wet races, but one of the craziest races, period. A race that started wet, and just a handful of laps in, had then teammates Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton hit each other on the pit straight. A two-hour red flag delay over undrivable rain followed and when the race finally did get going again, it was Button, the king of changeable conditions, who mastered the damp track, and despite going through the pits SIX times for front wing damage and tyre changes, would win the race after Sebastian Vettel ran wide on the final lap. A drive that the Brit would later say, was the best of his career. At four hours and four minutes, Canada 2011 still holds the record for the longest Grand Prix of all time. Sort of…
The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix – An honourable mention has to go to the now infamous 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, a 3-lap “race” that never saw any actual racing at all. A combination of torrential rain and fog limiting visibility to just a few metres, meant in hindsight a race on the day was virtually impossible. The cars were sent around the track behind the Safety Car to complete three laps, the bare minimum to constitute a Grand Prix, and Max Verstappen won a half-points awarded race, with the extra shock of then backmarkers Williams scoring a podium with George Russell in 2nd after his mega qualifying lap on Saturday. To this day, this still remains the only F1 World Championship race with no officially recognised fastest lap.
Are there any other crazy wet races we should have included Let us know in the comments, and if you enjoyed the video, be sure to subscribe!