Weather is set to dominate the thoughts of many Formula 1 fans this weekend, as the cold front that I have been mentioning since Saturday continues to build and move slowly towards Interlagos – just in time to cause chaos on Sunday.
‘It’s lights out in Brazil!’ is a phrase that doesn’t just refer to the race itself, as many of the travelling journalists can confirm. Witness this morning’s pre-event press conference and I was just getting into concentrating on the answers coming from Fernando Alonso and his title rival Sebastian Vettel, when the transmission ended abruptly following what will be one of several power failures over the next few days.
But what the local electricity company lacks will be more than made up for by the weather. Tomorrow is a gentle meteorological warm-up for the main event. With two 90-minute practice sessions on the menu, Friday will stay dry with mainly sunny conditions in the morning. There will still be one or two bright spells during the afternoon, but also an increase in cloud cover. Importantly, it will remain dry and there is no threat of rain. Air temperature will climb to around 32 degrees Celsius, while there will be a light breeze, chiefly from the north-west.
Weekend Update – Rain On The Way
Things have progressed a little more over the last 24 hours since my last update. As you can see from the latest satellite images in this link, the cold front has now formed and is becoming quite a potent force over central parts of Argentina. Latest projections this evening have the track of the rain still set for late Saturday night and most of Sunday at Interlagos.
Saturday is expected to dawn dry with some sunny spells around for final practice, but throughout the break and towards qualifying, clouds will build and it may become overcast by the end of the knockout session. A further slowing of the front now means that rain is now less likely during qualifying. The latest timeframe for showers to arrive over Interlagos is just after the session has concluded, but then conditions will deteriorate at quite a rate. Air temperature will top out at 31 Celsius.
Light mid-afternoon showers will become much heavier during the evening, as the front begins to cross Sao Paulo and its environs. Showers and longer spells of rain will continue overnight, leading into a wet start for race day.
Sunday will obviously start damp, with a continuation of the showers. However, there could be worse to come, based on today’s rainfall projection. Heavy showers will merge into a sustained period of intense rain, between the hours of approximately 06:00 to 18:00 local time. Clearly, this encompasses the race window and we are looking at enough rain to produce safety cars, red flags and possible issues with standing water etc.
Air temperature will only scrape up to 21 Celsius, as the colder airmass moves in behind the first wave of showers. Winds will be light to moderate at times from the south-east.
We are now looking at a potentially difficult and long day to end what has been a wonderful world championship season. I will keep on top of this over the next 24 hours and publish a further update on Friday at around 20:00 GMT, but before then there are two 90-minute practice sessions to enjoy, as we find out how close the Ferrari duo can get to the flying McLaren and Red Bull drivers.