Formula 1 is on the brink of ushering in a game-changing innovation as it gears up for a pivotal test of automatic rain lights in Abu Dhabi this weekend. In a bid to enhance visibility during treacherous wet weather conditions, drivers will participate in a post-practice trial of the newly developed automatic rain light systems.
The brainchild of the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA), these innovative systems rely on cutting-edge software designed to activate the rear red lights precisely when the track conditions demand it, especially during those rain-soaked races when visibility takes a nosedive.
In the event notes distributed by F1 Race Director Niels Wittich on Thursday, it was explicitly stated that following Friday’s initial free practice session, a brief test will be conducted to verify the functionality of the software as per the intended plan. Commenting on this forthcoming test, Wittich remarked:
“After all cars have taken the chequered flag, a Double Yellow Sector and Low Grip will be activated. After approximately 20 seconds Low Grip will be disabled. Another 10 seconds later VSC will be activated. After approximately 20 seconds VSC will be disabled.”
The primary objective behind this groundbreaking system is to ensure that the rain lights come to life as soon as race control categorizes the track conditions as ‘Low Grip’ due to rain. In the past, drivers were burdened with the responsibility of manually flipping the switch to activate their rain lights. This manual process carried the risk of delays, potentially leaving drivers vulnerable to deteriorating conditions without timely illumination.
The upcoming test holds the promise of being the litmus test for the FIA’s software tweaks. If this trial proves successful without any hiccups, the automatic rain light system will become a permanent fixture in the next Formula 1 season, revolutionizing the sport.
The ongoing safety concern of the spray generated by the current ground effect cars in wet conditions has prompted the FIA to take proactive measures to improve visibility for the drivers. The rain light test is just one facet of a broader initiative aimed at making wet races safer and more manageable for Formula 1’s elite racers.
In the world of Formula 1, where every millisecond counts, the introduction of automatic rain lights represents a significant stride toward optimizing safety and performance on the track. This innovative approach underscores Formula 1’s commitment to pushing boundaries and staying ahead in the ever-evolving realm of motorsports technology.
Earlier this year, the governing body conducted tests on wheel arches as a potential solution to alleviate the spray issue. However, these tests did not yield definitive results. Addressing the matter during the early phases of the current season, FIA Deputy President of Sport, Robert Reid, voiced his concerns, stating:
“There is a challenge with the new aerodynamics in F1, and it’s something that we’re trying to solve there.
“Anything we can do to reduce the spray and increase the visibility, is going to be something that we are definitely working on.
“There’s no particular solution at the moment. But, as you saw in F1, there was the first learning step towards some solutions.
“I know there was a bit of criticism, and I read it was a failure, but in any of these situations, you’ve got to try things. And that’s exactly what we did.”