Bernie Ecclestone's Sprinkler Idea does Work
Istanbul Provided the Proof and an Alternative
The ex F1-Chief's idea may not be so bad but there may be a better way to spice up races and Istanbul's Intercity Park showed us the way.
In 2011, then F1 boss, Bernie Ecclestone had the outrageous idea of making races more interesting by installing sprinklers to make tracks wet and make Formula 1 unpredictable for fans. The idea may sound good but Ecclestone faced severe backlash and criticism from fans and drivers alike for the idea. The plan for Bernie to play God and bring rain to F1 was accordingly ditched.
With Lewis Hamilton winning 10 and Mercedes winning 12 out of 14 races, fans are screaming for more on-track action and a wet track certainly fulfils that demand. The saying that 'rain is a great equalizer' has been proven true in the past with races like Germany 2019 and more recently by Turkey 2020. History does suggest that wet races are interesting and surely the occasional appearance of sprinklers wouldn't have hurt the spectacle.
Ex-Formula One Chief Bernie Ecclestone. Photo: FoxSportAsia
However, Intercity Park showed that there is a cheekier way to make racing exciting without anyone having to play God; resurface the track just before F1 arrives and don't let anyone run before F1. This is exactly what happened in Turkey and did a great job in testing the drivers and shaking up the order.
Every year, a few tracks need resurfacing. Instead of resurfacing them at the start of the year and running different series before F1 so that the track gets rubbered in, organisers can ensure that the resurfacing is complete just about a week before the race and F1 cars are the first to go around it. In Istanbul, drivers struggled from the start due to lack of grip from the oils and resins coming out of the newly laid tarmac.
Rain and a New Surface Made the Turkish Grand Prix Very Unpredictable. Photo: XPB Images
Rain would be a bonus and would make things even slipperier if it comes down during the race. Even a dry race would be great as no one would feel comfortable and the drivers would stay on the edge throughout with any mistake being severely punished. It would definitely aid drivers with experience and with great car control and effectively separate the champions from the also-rans.
In conclusion, we can't always bring rain to F1 nor it always comes to races (every approaching shower has missed the circuit by a few miles this year), but we can sure make things slippery once in a while by resurfacing tracks right before a race.