The Belgian Grand Prix was called off after heavy rain left drivers struggling to complete the race.
The f1 news was a Belgian Grand Prix that had been washed out. This meant that drivers were relieved, confused and angry in equal measure.
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, BELGIAN SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, BELGIAN SPA-FRANCORCHA The Belgian Grand Prix was the shortest race in Formula One’s 71-year history, taking three hours and forty-four minutes to complete three circuits.
Behind the Safety Car, the three laps were completed. a half-point were awarded to the top ten finishers, and there was even a podium ceremony for Max Verstappen, George Russell (who was on the podium for the first time), and Lewis Hamilton, the seven-time world champion.
Many fans at the track were enraged, waiting out all day in the pouring rain only to be rewarded with three processional circuits behind the Safety Car.
Hamilton was the most vocal in his condemnation of the result, calling the race “a farce” and claiming that fans who visited Spa-Francorchamps deserved a full refund.
However, Hamilton’s dissatisfaction was not directed at the choice not to race. The Mercedes driver, who is known for his ability to race in wet circumstances, acknowledged that racing safely on Sunday was difficult.
“Obviously, we have no control over the weather, and I like racing in the rain, but today was a different story,” Hamilton added. “You couldn’t see the vehicle ahead of you, there was aquaplaning, it was simply a catastrophe on track,” says the driver.
At the Belgian Grand Prix, Sergio Perez wrecked his Red Bull on the way to the grid. Getty Images/Lars Baron
In fact, none of Hamilton’s competitors questioned his choice to skip Sunday’s race. However, many of them, like Hamilton, were dissatisfied with the way the event transpired.
Before we get into some of the more controversial topics, like the half points, it’s essential to understand why Formula One seemed to be playing an impossible waiting game with Mother Nature on Sunday afternoon.
The reasons why racing was dangerous
After there was no racing action on Sunday, Lewis Hamilton requested for a refund. Getty Images/Lars Baron
The rain on the television displays was not the same as the rain seen from the media center window at Spa-Francorchamps. It was already heavy in the morning, and as the scheduled start time of 3 p.m. local time neared, the severity increased.
To say that the television pictures did not do it justice is an understatement. The rain was blowing sideways over the paddock and pit lane by the time the race was scheduled to start. That was the case for the most of the day, with one brief respite (which we will come to).
Later, McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo argued that the optimum time to start the race would have been half an hour before the scheduled time, when circumstances were better than they would be for the remainder of the day —- something we now know but didn’t know at the time. Despite this, Red Bull’s Sergio Perez lost control of his vehicle and crashed into a wall on his approach to the grid at 2:30 p.m.
When 3 p.m. arrived, the rain was less of a problem than the standing water on the track. Because of the design of contemporary F1 vehicles, there is a lot of spray coming out of the back.
Lando Norris noted that the Mercedes Safety Vehicle, a modified AMG GT R road car, threw out a very little amount of water in contrast to the 20 F1 cars behind it at high speeds. The change was night and day. The spray behind the F1 cars would have been much worse if they had been racing.
When the race was initially suspended, after three formation laps, Verstappen stated he thought the conditions around 3:30 p.m. were good enough to start the race, a sentiment he repeated after the race was eventually abandoned at 6:44 p.m.
The 19 drivers behind Verstappen were having a different experience than the race leader. Second-place finisher George Russell said he couldn’t see Verstappen’s car’s flashing red light on the rear.
Carlos Sainz, a Ferrari driver, claimed he could hardly see beyond his steering wheel.
When informed of Verstappen’s perspective of view, Sainz replied, “You can definitely start from pole position.”
“I didn’t see it ready to start starting from P11 at any time today.”
“Believe me, if there had been even the tiniest of windows, I would have been the first on the radio to advise them to start.”
Pierre Gasly, who is now in fifth place, said it simply. Gasly began his weekend by placing flowers at Raidillon and praying for his buddy Anthoine Hubert, who died in a Formula 2 accident in Spa in 2019. Hubert lost control of his vehicle and was t-boned by Juan Manuel Correa, who was unable to take evasive action at one of the fastest portions of the race circuit in the history of motor racing.
F1 would be in for a catastrophe, according to Gasly, if it attempted to race under such circumstances.
“The issue was that you had to depend on everyone in front of you to remain on track and continue at the same pace as you were going, because if someone got stopped, you’d be doing 200-250 [km/h],” Gasly said.
“The visibility was about 30 meters. There’s no way you’re stopping once you see the vehicle at 200-250 mph. We’ve seen enough heinous things on this track that I believe [not racing] was the best choice.”
Drivers aren’t the only ones that face danger. As Sebastian Vettel pointed out, the safety of the 20 drivers on the track is one thing; the safety of the spectators strewn around the circuit is another.
“No one wants to harm anybody,” Vettel stated.
“We don’t want to be injured in the vehicle, and we certainly don’t want spectators to get wounded. That is always the first priority. It’s unlikely to be popular, but given the current circumstances, it’s probably the best option.”
It was a near-impossible scenario for FIA race director Michael Masi, who ultimately determines whether racing is safe.
Masi was monitoring weather radars and waited for a chance to race again while receiving texts and questions from F1’s ten teams. Unlike past wet Sundays, when F1 has found a break in the weather or a window of opportunity, the prognosis for this race was gloomy.
Before the race, many teams informed ESPN that the rain would continue until midnight, according to their predictions. This issue was made considerably more complicated by the fact that F1’s strict timetable leaves no room for postponing to Monday or later in the season. It was a case of now or never.
When the rain stopped momentarily over La Source and subsequently the remainder of the circuit soon after 6 p.m., one chance arose. This break in the weather only lasted a few minutes at most, and most of that time was spent with F1’s Medical Car making reconnaissance circuits around the lengthy Spa circuit to check whether the standing water had evaporated.
The rain had increased again by the time F1 had sent the pack out to “start” the race. There would be no second chances, as the race was called off after three circuits behind the Safety Car.
Was the’start’ a real effort to participate in a race?
After three circuits behind the safety car, Max Verstappen won the Belgian Grand Prix. Getty Images/Joe Portlock/Formula 1/Formula 1
Hamilton and Vettel, the two most successful drivers on the grid, were skeptical of the motives behind the brief flurry of track activity. While Masi claimed that the vehicles were sent to take advantage of what seemed to be a brief but significant respite in the weather,
Vettel had questioned why F1 was even attempting to drive cars on the racing circuit before the initial attempt to start the race at 3:25 p.m.
“What’s the difference now?” Vettel radioed Aston Martin after learning that the formation laps will take place behind the safety car. Nothing.
“I suppose the difference is in the amount of money spent on television. Simply said, I’m expressing the obvious. More rain has fallen in the past 20 minutes [than before] “..
Vettel’s sentiments were mirrored by Hamilton.
“Money speaks,” Hamilton remarked after the race, “and the two laps to start the race are all a money situation.” “So everyone gets their money back, and I believe the fans should as well.”
“Because they didn’t get to see what they paid for,” says the narrator.
He subsequently posted on social media, “We were sent out for one purpose and one reason alone,” implying that F1 was attempting to meet commercial or financial commitments.
Stefano Domenicali, the F1 executive, denied this was the reason.
When it comes to money, Domenicali remarked, “two laps or zero laps makes no difference.”
“That’s why, when I hear there were commercial talks behind the scenes, it’s completely false; when it comes to racing, there is a duty and a defined procedure.”
“These things have nothing to do with each other.”
“No, none, nothing, never,” Masi replied when asked whether his choice was affected by outside reasons such as business concerns.
“And it would never be a factor in my decision. Not in the least.”
After the three-lap “race,” F1 even conducted a podium ceremony. Getty Images/Dan Mullan
Most of the drivers who had earned points were speaking out against it, which was extraordinary. While Russell might be excused for reveling in his first podium result, which came after a great Saturday qualifying effort, most of his competitors found it difficult to accept being rewarded for a Sunday with no racing laps.
“Yeah, but that’s a joke,” Vettel said when asked whether it might be viewed as a prize for qualifying well.
“You should earn points for qualifying [on Saturday] if you want to obtain a reward for qualifying.”
“So, how did we spend our day? I’m not sure.”
Two laps is not an acceptable minimum criterion for points, according to Sainz.
“If [the start] was done only for the sake of giving points, I believe it is complete folly,” Sainz remarked. “I don’t believe we should run any laps simply to change the race’s ultimate outcome.”
“Yes, if it was done with the purpose of really running and re-starting the race, which leads me to the second issue, which is how far into the race do you call it a race?”
“Why should points be awarded and any result be given if there were no racing laps, no competition, since there was essentially no race, I didn’t compete, therefore I didn’t earn the half a point I received, so I don’t know why I got it.”
McLaren CEO Zak Brown has asked for a reassessment of the two-lap limit and has suggested that F1 look into methods to make the timetable more flexible to allow for last-minute contingencies.
“The rules say that after a few laps, we may declare it a race,” Brown said. “I believe that has to be reconsidered.” No one can dispute that the weather was safe to race in, but as a sport, we need a better response when something like this occurs. The result should not be a race after three laps behind a Safety Car.
“It is what the regulations state, but that now has to be evaluated by all of us to learn from today and realize what we would do differently if we were in this scenario again, to ensure that everyone gets their race in, whether it’s the next day or if we come back.”
“With the scheduling, it’s a little difficult, but I don’t believe anybody would say it seemed appropriate to call that a race today.”
- 2018 f1 standings
- f1 2018 standings
- formula 1 2019 standings