Knowing the weather is crucial for racing teams as predicting the right weather at the correct time can be the difference between winning and losing. Technology and information is what the engineers work and rely on and very little else. Driving on the right tyre is critical as slicks have no grip in wet conditions as you can see from the video clip above.
Formula One uses a company called Metcheck to provide all the necessary information these days. They place radars around the circuit allowing the teams to access the information as it is happening live. Not all the teams trust this though and do their own back up weather system.
The Metcheck site has weather predictions which are constantly updating right up to the 1st August. This company seems to be getting things right unlike some other service providers in the past and the reason why teams have back up systems in place.
In 2018 Meteo France was providing the weather information where one race particularly stands out and that was the one held at Monza in Italy. On the Friday it was meant to rain during the practice sessions and it was sunny. The opposite on the Saturday when the sun was supposed to be shining and qualifying was washed out.
Up to date radar last night and see they have gone as far as 200 kilometers
The larger teams have people stationed at various distances away from the track as far as 100 kilometers away monitoring wind direction and cloud movements. They are obviously trying to spot the rain before the other teams to get an advantage.
A set of wet tyres showing the grip which the slicks don't have.
We have seen in the past how a team sitting in 15th can suddenly take the lead when rain appears or stops as it is all about timing and changing to the correct spec tyre. This happened last season at Hockenheim when Lance Stroll changed over to slicks just as the rain stopped two laps before the leaders pitted.He took the lead as the track was dry enough by then but couldn't hold them off as his car was too slow. Normally one car goes in first and everyone watches , a bit like a guinea pig to see the outcome before deciding themselves.
The timings are that critical as if a car misses the pit stop they could lose minutes to their rivals. We have had cases where a rain cloud has only rained over a portion of the track which complicates things somewhat.
A wet tyre spec will degrade very fast losing it's tread and grip if there is no water to keep the rubber cool and why sometimes teams are reluctant to jump the gun immediately. The 20 cars driving around the circuit tend to dry out the track very quickly if it is only a shower and possibly teams will choose intermediates before the wet tyres as it is less of a gamble. Strategy and out thinking the others is key and why Mercedes and Red Bull have an advantage over the likes of Ferrari.