Rain men! Fans praying race stays dry but Jenson and Lewis work wonders in the wet
21:00 GMT, 5 July 2012
Campsites around Silverstone are at code red and the Met Office has issued a severe weather warning ahead of the rain which is forecast to hit all three days of the British Grand Prix.
The 285,000 Formula One devotees who will descend on the Northamptonshire track this weekend will hope the weathermen have got it wrong.
But the McLaren pair of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, along with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, could be forgiven for indulging in a spot of rain dancing such has been their dominance when the heavens open.
Skills: Lewis Hamilton has proved he is one of Formula One's most accomplished drivers in the wet
The trio have won more than 70 per cent of the 18 rain-affected grands prix since Hamilton took his F1 bow five years ago.
Michael Schumacher was dubbed the Rain Meister for his displays in a deluge while Sebastian Vettel waded to his first win through the standing water in Monza.
But if the rain falls this weekend, bank on Hamilton, Button or Alonso to be kicking up the spray before spraying the champagne.
To find out what is needed to take on the wet British weather at the wheel of a 750bhp F1 car, and who they fancy to reign in the rain, Sportsmail consulted a team of experts who know all about driving in a downpour.
No place like home: Jenson Button walks along the paddock at Silverstone on Thursday
Three great wet-weather drives
1993 European Grand Prix (Donington Park)
Ayrton Senna twice gambled on slick tyres to finish 83 seconds ahead of Damon Hill.
1996 Spanish Grand Prix (Circuit de Catalunya)
Michael Schumacher, in his first year with Ferrari, cruised home by a 45-second margin.
2008 British Grand Prix (Silverstone)
Lewis Hamilton finished 69 seconds ahead of Nick Heidfeld, lapping everyone up to third.
Sir Jackie Stewart, three-time world champion:
have to try to make the car as docile as you can. You have to be almost
ahead of the car but you cannot overreact because you are making the
car as nervous as you might be. We know that Jenson can drive a very
good wet race, as can Alonso and Vettel.
for Lewis, he just seems to be unbridled when it comes to a wet race.
But you have to keep an eye on the likes of Pastor Maldonado, Sergio
Perez and Romain Grosjean. Sometimes the bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
driver will just go that little bit further than their more mature
Damon Hill, 1996 world champion and Sky F1 analyst:
Racing in extreme wet is like trying to hurry along an icy pavement. Breaking traction will have you on your backside in a flash unless you have the reactions of a cat on caffeine.
That is why it lends itself as an opportunity to only the very best of the best drivers. In this category are a precious select few. Hamilton has it, Schumacher had it, Senna had it, as did Jim Clark, Jackie Stewart and Stirling Moss.
It’s the ability to drive by the ‘seat of the pants’, literally using the buttocks to feel the grip!
Get a grip: McLaren technicians check their tyres – crucial in the wet – at Silverstone on Thursday
Martin Brundle, veteran of 158 grand prix starts and Sky F1 commentator:
Hamilton’s win in the wet at Silverstone in 2008 was one of the top five drives I have witnessed in F1. He found grip where nobody else could.
Button, if the conditions are changeable, seems to find a confidence that is extraordinary. Japanese drivers, who have monsoon tyres over there, are always good in the wet so Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber could be involved.
Johnny Herbert, 1995 British Grand Prix winner and Sky F1 analyst:
It is all about finding the racing lines. Most of these guys have raced here for many years but you have still got to find it and utilise it.
If the conditions are changeable, expect Jenson to do well. It is down to a feel factor. Jenson is a sensitive driver and it gives you an extra sense of when the track is changing, as was demonstrated by his win in Canada last year.