Behind-the-scenes: forecasting Formula 1

Weather

Unlike our KXAN forecasts that cover 15 counties 7 days at at time, the forecasters at Formula 1 focus their attention on a much smaller scale.

Formula 1 has their own traveling weather service, made up of a team of engineers and meteorologists and a whole lot of weather equipment, complete with their own portable radar. The technology is far more advanced than what racing teams used years ago — stationing a teammate upwind of the track and relaying back weather changes via walkie-talkie!

The team forecasts for tracks all over the world, using long-range models to get an idea of what the weather will look like weeks in advance. Once closer to the event, the forecasters get into the nitty-gritty… tracking everything that could potentially become a factor for drivers. Their forecasts include how many minutes until the rain starts, what corner of the racetrack will the rain first hit, duration, intensity, accumulation, etc. They zero-in on the exact moment rain, fog, storms could potentially become an impact.

Reason for the preciseness? The possibility of rain is a factor the race teams must consider when picking tires. Dry tires have virtually no grooves (smoother surface = less friction = faster speeds) whereas wet tires allow for some gripping. If given a certain time for projected rain, teams can decide during the race whether to switch tires. Ultimately, it is up to the driver to make the decision.

Excessive heat is another meteorological factor that comes into play in F1 racing. The surface temperature on the track can get up to 140°F on a hot, sunny day. Hotter track temperatures wear the tires faster, not allowing them to go as far a distance before rotating.

Luckily, the forecast here in Austin calls for neither rain nor hot temperatures… but rather beautiful fall weather both Saturday and Sunday.

Forecast for Formula 1 U.S. Grand Prix — NOV 1st through 3rd

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