Rain polarises everything in motorsport. The dark grey clouds rolling in brighten the colours, turning up the contrast dial a few notches. The rain itself seperates the men from the boys, those who have reached their peak to those waiting for the ceiling to be lifted so they can reach much higher. In the dry the gap is less obvious, the field are varying shades of grey spread across just a handful of seconds. Throw in a damp track and some uncertainty and the differences become all the more clear.
Saturday's race, held under a casual covering of grey skies brought yet another first for the winners book and another new face to the podium. Their strong drives were masked by an uneventful race, held in uninteresting conditions and on a circuit that pales into insignificance alongside its bigger and more intimidating cousin. It's a mere karting track compared to the neverending beast that threads through the forest and between villages and towns next door.
The Nordschleife is a relic of bravery. Time has neutered Spa - it's shorter, flatter, there's considerably more space for errors and although the challenge remains, it does so in a very politically correct manner. One that doesn't have you running through your last will and testament through corners, though you might utter a prayer or two through Eau Rouge. Meanwhile the Norschleife represents everything we wish single seater motorsport was, and are silently thankful it isn't any more. Every single corner throws you off camber at some point, then tries its level best to sling you into the armco immediately afterwards.
In a way it's a shame there's no circuits that make a racing driver feel those emotions, lap after lap, corner after corner. Are they not what brings the rewards aside from the trophy? And is it not interesting that anyone can scare themselves witless on the Nordschleife, yet the right to face more tame challenges comes at a far greater price and after gaining a racing licence?
But for those who race next door, at the modern GP layout, the challenge comes from the skies, and in the long sweeping corners and huge braking zone at the first corner. Particularly in the wet, this is where the action happens, where after a long main straight the drivers throw the anchors out. If you can brave the strong winds at the top of the grandstand there, it's worth a visit, particularly right at the very summit where a birds eye view of the Mercedes complex and first corner awaits. Perhaps the best view on the circuit, where the brake discs glow and the brave either make it work, or skirt around the gravel trap waiting beyond the furthest reach of the track.
A personal favourite feature of the WSR weekend this year was the collectors area, including a prodigous number of Renault 5s on display. Anyone who has ever been behind the wheel of one will know it's a miracle that so many have survived so long, but they were all in remarkable condition. The best example on display? A convertible Renault 5. Loved and treasured as if it was a Ferrari.
Proof that love takes many unusual forms. I bet that was an interesting Nordschleife lap...