A recent suggestion from Bernie Ecclestone that Formula 1 races should experience a bout of artificial rain is a fantastic idea – make it happen!
The official tire supplier, Pirelli, is on board, but how and when to go to the sprinklers? Weather arrives and leaves, but usually with some warning in the form of clouds and pressure, and always without regard to who’s leading the race or who’s on which type of tire. How do you implement the idea fairly and safely? Sudden heavy storms? Light drizzle? Short squall? Leave it to Charlie Whiting to turn on the taps? Who pushes the button and for how long?
The main idea behind artificial rain is to improve the show for the fans, so why not put them in charge of when the rain comes? Formula 1 fans are online and under engaged in a big way, so in the ultimate form of fan engagement, why not drive the Formula 1 audience to their mobile devices and laptops to make it rain at the track? I cannot imagine a more engaged live TV audience immediately following a fan-induced storm, fantastic for eyeballs on the screen, and more brand exposure for sponsors.
How to engage the existing sponsor base? Aside from CFD currently used to develop Formula 1 cars, one of the world’s most computationally intensive endeavors is weather modeling. Predicting weather patterns and events is a real world problem that drives how the world farms, travels, eats, drinks and lives. Weather touches all of our lives, so here’s a great opportunity for the sport’s technology partners like Intel to showcase work on their latest processors.
On the consumer side, there’s plenty of wet weather products that would love the exposure a guaranteed artificial rain event would provide. Pirelli, for one, would love the idea that they could activate a media campaign for their wet weather road tires. As for a former Toyota F1 sponsor and pressure washing equipment manufacturer Kärcher, there may just be an opportunity to demonstrate the arrival of the next Zamboni. Everyone from wet weather clothing companies to wiper blade manufacturers would have a huge stage to demonstrate their latest products to a dry, live studio audience.
Finally, it would be great to bring a non-profit element to the sport, especially given the idea of a worldwide audience watching a precious natural resource, water, used in the name of entertainment. The United Nations World Water Day is March 22, and one way determine when to turn on the taps at the track would be to arrange a tweet race in support of raising awareness of those in need of fresh water, in combination with a donation campaign of some sort. Set a high water mark for donations and twitter followers during the race and you’ve got a trigger to let the rain dance begin . . . so how would you add rain to Formula 1?