Rain is never a surprise at Spa-Francorchamps – and if the weather forecast is accurate, a fair amount could fall over the Belgian Grand Prix weekend.
The iconic circuit in the Ardennes hills is said to have its own micro-climate, with conditions often changeable very quickly, and the BBC are indicating the track could be wet on all three days as Formula 1 returns from its summer break.
The teams may just get away with running slicks for FP1 on Friday morning, when the forecast suggests up to a 30% chance of rain but cool conditions, perhaps only around 12 degrees.
However, the afternoon is when the raindrops appear in the forecast graphics for FP2, with sunshine and showers looking likely.
That theme continues throughout Saturday, when the greater chance of rain appears to be for FP3 in the morning at over 50%.
The possibility of showers reduces only slightly for the afternoon’s qualifying, which offers the potential for one of those thrilling sessions when a fast-evolving surface – getting either wetter or dryer – means timing of ‘push’ laps is critical and pole position becomes wide open.
For Sunday’s race, the sunshine symbol disappears completely from the forecast at Spa. Instead, for the duration of the race, it suggests light rain at a consistent possibility of over 40% as well as a gentle breeze.
We’re here, Spa 🇧🇪
— Haas F1 Team (@HaasF1Team) August 26, 2021
Teams will therefore have to be careful how to use their tyre allocation over the three days, with a heavy reliance on intermediates and wets looking likely.
Inevitably, in what has been a highly entertaining season so far, two of the season’s most exciting races occurred after a downpour just before the start.
The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola was won by Max Verstappen and featured incidents where Lewis Hamilton, George Russell/Valtteri Bottas and Sergio Perez were all caught out by the tricky conditions.
Then last time out, at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Bottas misjudged his braking into the opening corner and triggered a melee which knocked several podium contenders out of the reckoning, with Esteban Ocon going on to take a shock victory for Alpine.
Probably the most famous wet race at Spa was in 1998, when Damon Hill and Ralf Schumacher brought home a one-two finish for Jordan – the team’s first Formula 1 victory.
That race was also remembered for a dramatic first-lap pile-up on the approach to Eau Rouge and Michael Schumacher’s angry reaction after his Ferrari hit David Coulthard’s McLaren.