The 7 wettest Formula 1 races in history

Alex Gassman

by Alex Gassman

Wettest F1 race ever

Luckily for the drivers and fans, most F1 races take place in the dry. But sometimes the weather gods have other ideas and the heavens open.

Here’s a look at some of the wettest ever Formula 1 races, plus the statistically wettest circuits and season.

Formula 1 in the rain

The F1 calendar is scheduled so each race is held at a time of year when the host country is less likely to experience rain. And it works, as the majority of F1 races are held when it’s dry.

That being said, F1 races do also take place in the rain and can sometimes make for a more interesting Grand Prix.

Image licensed under CC BY 2.0

Some drivers even prefer driving in the rain as it suits their driving style. Jenson Button was one of those; his super smooth steering technique was perfectly suited to maximizing a car’s performance when it was wet. Others would rather the track stayed dry.

But whether the drivers like it or not, racing in the rain is inherently more dangerous. Standing water brings with it a risk of aquaplaning and a high-speed crash. When the weather’s that bad, wet races have to be delayed or cancelled entirely.

7 wettest F1 races

2007 Japanese Grand Prix

The 2007 Japanese Grand Prix was held at Fuji circuit and started behind the safety car because it was so wet. Back in 2007 you could chose wet tyres or extreme wet tyres, and all teams with the exception of Ferrari went for extreme wets.

This would backfire on the Scuderia as the downpour was too extreme for the ‘normal’ wets to handle. Kimi Raikkonen even spun just trying to catch the rain of cars behind the safety car.

As the race progressed the rain started to ease off, not before Alonso (one of that year’s title contenders) aquaplaned in to a barrier.

2007 European Grand Prix

The 2007 European Grand Prix, held at the Nurburgring, started on a bone dry track. Yet just one lap later the rain started to fall, and only one lap after that the track was completely covered in standing water.

It caught out a lot of drivers who’d pitted for Intermediate tyres when the rain initially fell, not expecting it to get as heavy as it did. 7 drivers aquaplaned on the start finish straight and ended up in the gravel trap on the outside of Turn 1.

One of those was a young Lewis Hamilton in his first season. He managed to keep his McLaren’s engine running and was lifted out of the gravel by a recovery truck, before rejoining the race as if nothing happened.

Here’s the video of the major crash.

2011 Canadian Grand Prix

The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix is one of the most memorable races in recent years. It started with a wet but drivable track, but around lap 20 the race started to fall much heavier.

On lap 25 the race was suspended because of excessive standing water. It would be another 2 hours and 4 minutes until racing would get underway again.

2011 Canadian GP

Image licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Jenson Button never looked like he was in with a chance of winning, as with 30 laps to go he was in last place over 50 seconds behind the leader.

But due to numerous safety car periods and some wonderful driving he was in second place and hunting down Vettel. On the final lap, Vettel made a mistake and ran wide, gifting the win to Button.

The huge delay in the middle of the race meant the 2011 Canadian GP ended up being the longest race in Formula 1 history, taking a total of 4 hours and 4 minutes from lights out to chequered flag.

1984 Monaco Grand Prix

The 1984 Monaco Grand Prix started wet and continued to get wetter and wetter. But unlike nowadays the race didn’t begin behind a safety car. It was a normal lights-out standing start, which unsurprisingly resulted in a multi-car crash at the first corner.

As the race progressed other drivers fell foul of the conditions. Nigel Mansell crashed out from the lead at high speed. Niki Lauda was out. Alain Prost inherited the lead but was furiously waving at the marshals for the race to be stopped.

Eventually, after just 31 laps and 1 hour of driving the race was ended early as the conditions had become too treacherous. Half-points were awarded as the Grand Prix hadn’t reached 75% of its intended distance.

2009 Malaysian Grand Prix

The 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix, held on the Sepang circuit, was definitely one of the wettest ever. It started dry, but dark clouds loomed and rain started to fall on lap 19, and continued to get worse.

By lap 31 the conditions were undriveable, with most drivers complaining on the radio that the race should be stopped. On lap 33 the red flags came out, and the race was suspended.

After an hour sitting around (or eating an ice cream if your name was Kimi Raikkonen) and non-stop torrential rain the race was ended as the light was fading fast. The order of the race was counted back to the end of lap 31, with just half points being awarded.

Here’s the highlights.

Image licensed under CC BY 2.0

1991 Australian Grand Prix

The 1991 Australian Grand Prix was held on the streets of Adelaide, a few years before the race moved its current location on the Albert Park circuit in Melbourne.

The race started in very wet conditions which only got worse as the laps ticked over, causing numerous accidents. Mansell crashed out and had a slight concussion. 3rd place Gerhard Berger also crashed out.

Senna was leading the race but was waving his hands at the officials, signalling that it needed to be stopped. And after just 16 laps / 24 minutes, that’s what happened. The race never restarted.

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix is not only the wettest Formula 1 race in history, but it’s also one of the biggest shambles.

The whole weekend was marred by the rain. During a soaking wet qualifying on the Saturday, Lando Norris had one of the biggest F1 crashes in recent years.

Come race day and the rain had not eased. The start of the race was delayed by 3 hours and the fans weren’t told what was happening.

Eventually the safety car led all the F1 cars out on to the track, where the race lasted just 2 laps before it was red flagged again. It never restarted.

As a ‘racing’ lap had officially been completely, the race result could be classified with half. This meant that the fans who braved the rain weren’t entitled to a refund.

It also meant that George Russell, driving for Williams at the time, scored his first ever podium after an incredible qualifying lap meant he started and finished the race in 2nd.

This is the shortest ever Formula 1 race, lasting just 3 minutes and 27 seconds.

The wettest F1 season

Reddit user Alien_cook pulled together some statistics which look at the all the wet races in F1’s history.

From those we know that the 1981 season was the wettest Formula 1 season on record. 6 races that year were wet, which is 40% of the 15 races held in 1981.

Wettest F1 season
Year # of wet races
1981 6 (40%)
2000 6 (35%)
1954 6 (33%)

The wettest F1 cicuit

The same statistics show that both the Spa Francorchamps and Monaco Grand Prix circuits have held 16 wet races in their history. Spa tops the list only because that’s a higher percentage of the total races held there.

It’s also fitting that the wettest race ever was the 2021 Belgian GP at Spa.

Wettest F1 circuit
Track # of wet races
Spa 16 (29%)
Monaco 16 (23%)
Nurburgring 10 (24%)

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Alex Gassman

I‘m Alex. I write F1 and motorsport guides based on my own experience as a 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 want to learn more about racing.

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