The race that never happened
“Rain rain go away, come again another day.” This is what the entire F1 Universe was praying to the Rain Gods. And in the end, all we got was 2 laps of Spa. Two laps of racing cars following a safety car around a stormy, wet Spa-Francorchamps.
What the headlines will say
Max Verstappen was declared winner for the Belgian GP in a washed-out F1 race at Spa. George Russell took a first career podium claiming 2nd place and the first podium since 2017 for Williams.
The rest of the grid remained the same as qualification due to regulations. All we got, in the end, was a handful of laps behind the safety car and no racing. The drivers lined up and the grid was set as scheduled but rain delayed proceedings.
There was even a few formation laps before eventually, the stewards called a red flag. Water on track was higher than safety levels so the drivers were instructed to sit in the pit lane.
It was 3 hours of watching a storm just reduce the chances of a race happening as time passed. This is where regulations dictated proceedings, resulting in a disappointing end to a much-anticipated race weekend.
What actually happened at Spa
As per FIA regulations and the stewards, of course, a race must be completed in a 3-hour window from the specified start time (3:00 pm local time). At Spa, a start procedure – formation lap and track inspection, took place but was delayed by 25 minutes.
A Red Flag was called, the track was not safe enough to go racing. The drivers were called into the pits. All eyes were on the weather forecasting tools. And in reality, this was a real storm. The chances of racing were low.
It was a whole 2 hours later that the stewards stopped the clock on the racing window with 1 hour remaining. And eventually, a decision was made to complete the requirements for a race classification.
Should the race now start, under the rules there would need to be two laps of the race running – even if those laps were behind the Safety Car – for half points to be awarded. Full points would only be awarded should the race reach 75% distance, though with only an hour’s running available at best, that now looks impossible.
As a result, classification achieved during qualifying was considered as the race classification. A disappointing but also interesting start to the triple header. Yes, that’s right! There are 2 more race weekends in the Dutch and Italian GP’s (5th and 12th September)
Belgian GP 2021 Trivia
- This was the shortest race in F1 – 2 laps over 4 hours..
- Nikita Mazepin from Haas had the fastest lap of the race –
- First race to take place behind a safety car.
- First career podium for George Russell.
- 50th races for Lando Norris and George Russell
- 200th race for Daniel Ricciardo
- 50th race start for the Red Bull and Honda partnership (12 wins)
What the driver’s said after Spa
Race winner – Max Verstappen – “For me in the lead the visibility was a lot better, even with the Safety Car ahead, but the guys behind me couldn’t see a single thing and if someone went off at Eau Rouge and bounced back onto the track they could have been T-boned at high speed which we do not want.”
“It was also extremely low grip and because it kept raining all afternoon it just didn’t improve. I think today the big credit goes to the fans around the track who stayed here the whole day in the rain, wind and cold.”
2nd place – George Russell – “It’s a strange feeling as I’ve never had a race finish like this in my career, but a podium is a podium and we will take it no matter what. We were rewarded for the amazing job we did as a team yesterday.
“Obviously if the race had gone ahead today it would have been incredibly difficult for us to hold our position, but you’ve got to take it as it comes. It was only the last race in Hungary that I scored my first points for Williams and here we are standing on the podium at the Belgian Grand Prix! It is a reward for all of the hard work everyone in the team has put in over these past three years.”
3rd place – Lewis Hamilton – “Firstly, I’m really disappointed for the fans. It’s no one’s fault, you can’t control the weather, but the fans have been incredible today, sticking with us the whole time, holding out for a potential race, keeping their energy up and creating the atmosphere.
“I love racing in the rain, but today was something else. You couldn’t see the car ahead, there was aquaplaning, it was so, so tricky out there. It’s a shame because of course I wanted to race and I love this track as well.”
Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel had good words for the steward after a bitter exchange with them following Lando’s crash in qualifying. “The FIA had to make some tough decisions today. It is not easy for them, but safety has to be the priority, and even though their decisions may not have been popular they were probably the right ones.”
We are headed to the Netherlands for the next race at the Circuit Zandvoort (5th September). Will we get a race? We hope so! What’s in store in the F1 universe. “Oh, Rain! Please let us have a race.”