Ricciardo wishes F1 could be more flexible with start times

Daniel Ricciardo has suggested Formula 1 could be more flexible with race start times when it rains after only completing half of Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix.

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren MCL36, Kevin Magnussen, Haas VF-22, Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C42

Despite growing rainfall in the lead-up to lights out at Suzuka, the race started as scheduled at 2pm local time, only for it to be red flagged after two laps due to the conditions.

A two-hour wait followed before the race resumed with 40 minutes left on the three-hour time limit, giving enough time for 28 laps of the 53-lap distance to be completed.

Full points were still awarded for the race due to a quirk in the regulations, but the delays has left many in F1 considering what improvements could be made for wet-weather races to give fans more action.

PLUS: How to relieve Formula 1’s extreme wet-weather caution

McLaren driver Ricciardo suggested there could be more flexibility in the race start times, looking for windows in the weather forecast to get more racing in.

“We want to race,” Ricciardo said when asked by Autosport about fans being disappointed by the rain delays.

“Where I wish we could do better is… I know it’s easy saying it now, but we knew this rain was going to come. It’s like 2014.

“Even if you bring it forward an hour, maybe we gain 20 laps at the beginning and you can still make a race of it.

“That’s where again, let’s try and learn something from this. I know there’s TV and everything, there’s a big part of it.

“Ultimately, we want to have a race.”

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, on the grid

Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren, on the grid

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

The practice of bringing race start times forward due to weather is commonplace in American series, such as IndyCar and NASCAR, but is not done in F1.

Suzuka was the third race of 2022 to experience significant weather delays. Rain in Monaco and Singapore forced the start of both races to be delayed, with neither running to full distance as a result.

Drivers accepted the red flag after two laps was the right decision after reporting visibility was extremely poor on the opening lap. Carlos Sainz and Pierre Gasly both got caught up in incidents, the latter then being left upset after passing a tractor on the track under a red flag one lap later.

“Part of me was scared, part of me enjoyed it,” Ricciardo said of the initial race start.

“It was nice to gain a few spots. As soon as we got into Turn 1, I was like 'ah wow, there’s too much water'. The visibility was so bad. I feel like the onboard cameras did it justice.

“But then I was happy to get the race going again. I didn’t think it would.”

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