The 5 coldest F1 races: Has it snowed during a Grand Prix?

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

F1 cars racing in the cold and snowy conditions

Here’s a look at the 5 coldest F1 races on record from the last few decades, and whether there have been any Grand Prix raced in the snow.

And no, the Las Vegas GP isn’t the coldest ever race. Not yet anyway.

Racing in the cold

Formula 1 cars need some warmth in the air, and in the track surface itself, to generate heat in their tyres. As they’re running specially designed racing slicks with no tread pattern, they need a lot of heat in the rubber to generate grip.

If the temperatures are too cold then they’ll struggle to generate that heat, and they won’t be able to find enough grip. That can be a worry for the drivers and teams as lower grip levels, at the speeds F1 cars go at, means less margin for error.

Has F1 ever raced in the snow?

No official Formula 1 Grand Prix race has ever taken place in the snow, as it would be too dangerous for the drivers even on grooved wet tyres.

However there have been a few instances where Formula 1 cars have driven in snowy conditions, just not during a Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso Silverstone 2005

At a Silverstone pre-season test day for the Renault F1 team in 2005, Alonso encountered a flurry of snowfall whilst he was out on track, but he kept pounding round.

He went on to win the championship that season. Maybe that snowy car-control practice session helped him refine his skills even more.

Ronnie Peterson Silverstone 1973

The 1973 International Trophy there saw a sudden mid-race snowstorm that caught out a number of drivers, including Ronnie Peterson in his ’72 Lotus. 

That race wasn’t an official F1 championship event, but Formula 1 cars were racing in it.

John Surtees 1967

Back in 1967 the legendary 13-mile Nurburgring Nordschleife was used for Formula 1, as opposed to the much shorter Grand Prix layout that’s been used more recently.

In ’67 the eventual F1 World Champion John Surtees was still racing in Formula 2 before he moved up to F1. When he was on track at the Nordschleife the unpredictability of the Eifel mountain’s weather system hit, and it snowed.

The 5 coldest F1 races

Even though there’s never been any snow, there have been a number of very cold F1 races over the last few decades. Here’s a look at 5 of the coldest.

5 - 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix

  • Minimum temperature: 15°C / 60°F
Las Vegas F1 fans in the cold

In the build up to the inaugural Las Vegas Formula One race in 2023 there was a lot of talk about it being the coldest F1 race ever. The organisers had decided to hold the race at 10pm in late November, when the average night-time temperatures in Las Vegas can get worryingly close to freezing.

The cold temperature would mean potentially dangerous low grip levels. Add to that the new tarmac laid for the Las Vegas Strip circuit that had not been driven on and there was a lot of news coverage about the risks involved for drivers and teams.

In the end, the 2023 Las Vegas Grand Prix took place when the air temperature was 15°C / 60°F, about 10°F higher than the statistical average for Las Vegas at that time of year and warmer than expected.

4 - 2016 Canadian Grand Prix

  • Minimum temperature: 11°C / 52°F.
2016 Canadian Grand Prix temperature

For over a decade the Canadian Grand Prix has been held in June, which can result in some warm and sunny weather but can also bring a lot of unpredictability.

At the 2016 Canadian GP it was cold, with lows of 11°C / 52°F. Check out the temperature chart for the day here. 

This is not the coldest its ever been for the Canadian GP. Read on to find out if Canada holds the record for the coldest race.

3 - 2020 Eifel Grand Prix

  • Minimum temperature: 9°C / 48°F

In 2020, thanks to COVID messing up the schedule, Formula One decided to host the ‘Eifel Grand Prix’ at the Nurburgring. In October.

If you know anything about the weather in the Eifiel Mountains that surrounding the Nurburgring, you’ll know that it’s unpredictable at best. Weather reports are often pretty useless thanks to the changeability of the conditions.

Somewhat unsurprisingly then, at the 2020 Eifel GP the drivers faced cold conditions with temperatures as low as 9°C / 48°F.

2 - 2014 Belgian Grand Prix

  • Minimum temperature: 8°C / 46°F

The Belgian Grand Prix is held at the incredible Spa Francorchamps circuit in the Ardennes forest. Another very hilly region that can have very changeable weather.

In a bid to have blues skies and sunshine for the race, the GP is held in August. But in 2014 the weather wasn’t kind and temperatures as low as 8°C / 46°F were seen on the track side thermometer across the weekend.

1 - 1978 Canadian Grand Prix

  • Minimum temperature: 4°C / 39°F
1978 Canadian GP temperature graph

The coldest Formula One race in history is the 1978 Canadian Grand Prix, with recorded air temperatures of 5°C / 41°F when the race began at 2pm, dropping to as low as 4°C / 39°F mid-way through the GP at 3pm.

This was the first time the Canadian GP had been held in Montreal, and it was held in October, a typically very chilly part of the year in Quebec. Kind of unsurprising then that it ended up being the coldest Grand Prix ever.

The race was won by the great Canadian F1 driver Gilles Villeneuve who the circuit would later be named after. Both Gilles and the 2nd and 3rd place finishers had to wear big parka coats on the podium to keep themselves warm whilst being awarded their Canadian GP trophies.

In a bid to avoid holding any more coldest races, the Canadian GP is now held in June.

Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport travel guides based on my experience as racing driver and full-time motorsport nerd. I’ve traveled the world watching F1 and other racing series.

I started oversteer48 with the aim of helping other motorsport fans who are planning on watching some racing themselves.

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