Sat, Mar 05, 2011 - Page 18 News List

F1: Ecclestone’s fake rain idea gets a damp reception

Reuters, LONDON

Red Bull’s Mark Webber has poured cold water on Bernie Ecclestone’s suggestion that grands prix could be livened up by using sprinklers to make “fake rain.”

“No and no,” the Australian told the BBC on Thursday when asked whether the sport needed such measures proposed by the commercial supremo and whether he would like them.

“It can be more exciting when we have some different weather conditions, that does happen, but you just try and think of Jimmy Clark and Jackie Stewart and [Ayrton] Senna and those guys, masters in the wet,” Webber said.

“Jackie’s still here, but the other two would be turning in their graves if they thought we’d have sprinklers and hoses lined up around the track ... it wouldn’t be the most sophisticated way to make the show more entertaining,” he added.

Mercedes GP chief executive Nick Fry was also unconvinced.

“I think Bernie’s putting forward some entertaining ideas but ... Formula One is about contending with the conditions that prevail at the time,” he said.

“The beauty of Formula One is that there is now huge variety ... we have races in the evening and during the day and halfway between the two and I don’t think anyone could say that last year was boring. It was tremendous and I’m sure that this year will be better still,” he added.

Ecclestone raised the “fake rain” idea earlier last week, although cynics suspected his words may have had more to do with a desire to keep Formula One in the news after the March 13 season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix was called off.

He suggested making tracks artificially wet during a race.

“I’m happy to make it happen,” he told the BBC again on Thursday. “My idea is that we should make a program that nobody knows exactly which program is going to be used and it would start at some time during the race. It would be raining effectively. It would maybe stop and maybe rain again later. Or maybe not. So nobody would know.”

Ecclestone did find some support from Paul Hembery, motorsport director of Formula One’s new tire supplier Pirelli.

“I thought Bernie Ecclestone’s comments were quite interesting,” he told autosport.com. “Straight after our recent successful [wet-weather] Abu Dhabi test I saw him and said, ‘Why don’t we do an artificial wet race?’ The technology is such that you can wet a circuit with a sprinkler system, so the idea is not as daft as it sounds.”

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