Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021

“Money talks” says Hamilton as he calls for Belgian GP fans to be refunded

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Lewis Hamilton believes the FIA ran three laps under safety car just to satisfy contractual obligations and says fans who attended the Belgian Grand Prix deserve to be refunded after the race was abandoned after three completed laps under Safety Car.

Fans waited for over three hours in constant rain for the Belgian Grand Prix to eventually begin, but despite the race officially starting under Safety Car, the race was suspended on lap four before race control confirmed that it would not resume.

As the race had satisfied the two lap minimum requirement for half points to be awarded, Hamilton was classified in third place. Hamilton says that fans who attended the race should be refunded their ticket prices for the day.

“Well firstly, I feel really sorry for the fans today,” Hamilton says.

“Obviously, it’s no one’s fault with this weather but the fans have been incredible today, just to stick with us this whole time and hold out for a potential race.”

Hamilton says he believes race control sent the drivers back out to complete laps under safety car purely to satisfy the minimum requirement for the race to count under contractual obligations.

“Money talks,” said Hamilton. “And it was literally the two laps to start the race – it’s all a money scenario. So everyone gets their money.

“I think the fans should get theirs back too because, unfortunately, they didn’t get to see what they came and paid for.”

Race control attempted to start the race on two separate occasions before abandoning both attempts due to the dangerously low visibility caused by spray from the cars on the wet circuit. Hamilton described the conditions as a “disaster”.

“I love racing in the rain, but today was something else,” said Hamilton. “You really couldn’t see the car ahead. There was aquaplaning. It was unfortunately just a disaster on track.

You couldn’t really see – like five metres in front of you, the car disappear, so it was very difficult down the straights to even know where that flashing light was. You couldn’t even go flat out because you didn’t know at what point of the track they’d be on.

“It’s a shame because, of course, I wanted to race and I think it could’ve been a good race if it hadn’t rained so hard.”

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2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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65 comments on ““Money talks” says Hamilton as he calls for Belgian GP fans to be refunded”

    1. I agree. What a rubbish day for fans attending..

    2. He will create a lot of goodwill when he pays for the return of the money.
      Only pocket money for Lewis but make or brake for spa.

      1. Davethechicken
        29th August 2021, 20:57

        Absurd comment erijke. Your anti-Hamilton attitude is in every post.
        The refunds must come from those who took the proceeds, obviously.. But the obvious needs stated for you.

        1. Some just can’t help themselves, with their anti-Hamilton comments. No matter what the subject might be.

          1. He thinks he’s a tough guy when he’s not. When he tries to talk to me he faces the worst.

      2. Surely he would be saying otherwise if he had gotten pole yesterday and a win today.

        1. Davethechicken
          30th August 2021, 8:31

          OK Omar, would you really pay €500 just to gain Max extra points?
          The fans have just paid to watch an event the organiser cancelled.

      3. Assuming 75,000 fans and an average price of £300, that would be over £22m. I doubt that would count as “pocket change” even for a driver as well paid as Hamilton. He’s been reported to earn around £50m, so this would be greatly half his annual income. Assuming you make the average of £30k, would you call even £10k “pocket change”?

        You’re right that it could be make or break for Spa, but it wouldn’t be far off “pocket change” for F1.

    3. He’s right of course; trying to get a slice of the TV rights in his 2021 contract and a 50M salary, which both outraged Daimler, makes him an expert indeed in these matters

      Reply moderated
  1. Technically it’ll be Spa that needs refunded by Liberty, otherwise I am not sure they could finanically take the hit to give fans their money back.

    1. This will be the crux of the matter in that who pays. Spa have committed to doing track upgrades at around €80m which would be at risk if refunds were provided, any cancellation insurance would not pay out as a winner has been declared and Liberty are also recovering financially over the last 12 months.

      If they were willing to think outside the box, Liberty can always give Spa 2 races next year to make up for this one and tickets carry over to the ‘new’ race. This can’t be any worse than giving Austria 2 races.

      I think the fans will get refunded as the PR would be worse than any financial hit but there will be a hidden cost down the line.

      1. Two races at Spa next year with free tickets for one race for people who attended this year is actually a brilliant idea, which is why it will never happen.

      2. Davethechicken
        30th August 2021, 8:34

        Chimera “This will be the crux of the matter in that who pays.”??
        Hamilton is making the point the laps were done to ensure that NO ONE is going to pay.

    2. At the end of the day, the fans should be refunded Spa, F1, FIA and the teams should take the knock. Fans are not there to make money. The one that takes the risk to make make max profits by taking a risk in business must take the knock, not the fans. . .it’s a simple concept, take care of the people that enable and allow you to carry on with your business

    3. Correct and Spa could get refunded by Liberty even if they did those 2 laps and “did” the race. Lewis is crying because he lost his lead gap.

  2. I’ll say this about today.

    It’s frustrating that we didn’t get to see a race, That we sat around for 3 hours to see a few laps behind the SC & that they ended up aiming for 2 laps behind the SC in order to call it a race & award half points.

    But at the same time I understand why they didn’t start the race properly as conditions were too bad in terms of visibility & for as unsatisfying as it was I also don’t really mind them doing those 2 laps to call it a race & awarding points because that at least now means the rest of the weekend meant something & that the risks drivers took in practice & especially in qualifying weren’t all for nothing.

    1. That’s a very sensible point of view.

  3. Hamilton, as much as I hate to agree with him, is right. This is a joke, a joke to the fans in attendance and at home watching, we were cheated today.

    1. I wonder if F1TV will refund me 0.58c like they did when their stream failed for the whole race. Ridiculous. Money talks indeed!

      1. I’ll probably have to pay extra; I never spent so much time watching F1TV.

        PS I found out that the Pitlane channel is much better than those Sky commenters.

    2. @jblank How were fans at home cheated? You would have rather then raced? Sometimes unforseen things happen in life and some people need to grow up. I agree that fans in attendence should be refunded but people watching on TV? Come on.

      1. Parts of the timeslot were as raceable as the three F3 rounds the kids managed with, so there should and could have been racing. And some people can pay per race to watch at home, how are they different to the paying fans in attendance?

        1. I am going to defer to the actual drivers in the cars driving on the track to tell me what is raceable over someone watching from home.

          If you paid for thw race then sure, get a refund but the vast majority of the people whining do not pay per race because a minority of F1 viewers do. Things happen, move on, it will be ok.

          1. Davethechicken
            29th August 2021, 20:59

            In the UK the only way to watch this race was to pay for it.

        2. Race fans are probably paying a few hundred Euros/£’s per ticket and have accommodation and travel costs too. Whereas a TV stream probably costs 20 euros. It’s a bit different I think!

          Reply moderated
      2. The fact you have to ask that only shows that nothing I say to you is going to matter. If you can’t see that there were other solutions then you’re not worth the effort.

  4. Peter Farrington
    29th August 2021, 19:07

    Top Words from Lewis !
    I watched at Home, poor Fans in appalling Weather all day , come on Liberty please arrange a refund for the Fans !
    Great Job George Russell ! ! Had to be in there at the end ! No matter how it happened, ask Checco !

  5. F1, Liberty, FIA…. Screw you for today.

  6. He’s right and very good from him to call this one out for what it was, a money move.

    It was impossible to race today, and FIA made the right decision to delay the race. But once they realized conditions weren’t going to improve they should’ve cancelled the whole thing. The rule has been forever in the rulebook (a arbitrary number of laps need to be completed in order to call it a race) but I’m sure that was written considering a race start that couldn’t be continued, not one that wasn’t suppose to start in the first place.

    There are a lot of contractual reasons why the “race” was completed, surely. But somewhere in these contracts there must be a clause that describes situations like these.

    The whole event was shambles, FIA tried their best but they also created an enormous amount of confusion in every garage, in every TV channel, every news account on social media, fans and public on track. Masi doesn’t have an easy job, but he’s in that position, and he’s not been convincing at all so far… today didn’t help causes

  7. I hope he pays back about 2% of his income that F1 will spend for refunds.

    Other than that, people paid to see a race, and it was called off.. Sort of, there was no racing taking place.

    Now in Bernie times they would do 20 laps semi slow, etc, and claim racing did take place..

    If it wasnt for professional and entertaining Sky F1 team, I might demand my. 4 hours back aswell.

    Do we all get part of our Pay TV back?

    They should have held the race on Monday. Whatever rules are in place, should have been overruled.

    We can only hope FOM, FIA learn something from this.

    And as final words, it was OK to not start the race in those unsafe conditions, but calling race completed was not.

    1. @jureo

      They should have held the race on Monday. Whatever rules are in place, should have been overruled.

      They never had the option to. It’s not as simple as simply saying ‘lets race tomorrow’ or waving a few rules, There are a lot of other factors.

      The marshal’s for example are volunteer’s most of whom have full time jobs so may not be available tomorrow & you can’t run an F1 race without enough marshals. Many broadcasters may not have the option to air the race tomorrow. Things like the medical helicopter & circuit medical centre staff are essentially rented for the weekend & may also not be available tomorrow. Many of the personnel who work at F1 weekend go home Sunday evening so won’t have hotels booked for tonight/tomorrow & they will have travel planned which may not allow them to stay the extra day. Travel in general for both personnel & equipment is planned well in advance & for the equipment especially isn’t something that can be changed with such short notice.

  8. What would really be ‘money talks’ would be if he had actually started the race despite the fact that the conditions were totally unsuitable. It was a brave and correct decision by Masi to not start the race at all and he should be praised for it. Fans definitely should be refunded, but I am sure they will be. I doubt Formula 1 will try to pretend that two laps behind the safety car is worth the huge amount of money paid and the sitting in the rain for six hours.

    1. Correct. Had they started the race and someone else ended up in the hospital, people would have shouted “money talks”. Hamilton is mad only because he lost a lead that he achieved by his team crashing Max out twice. Coward.

      1. Why did you get off your meds?

    2. The issue raised is not about not starting the race, even Hamilton himself said the conditions were bad. On the other hand saying a race was held after 3 laps under the safety car.
      Thats like going to a restaurant and paying for food and then you are shown a picture of a meal.
      It is not about who is right or wrong but having a sensible outcome for the ticket paying fans.

      1. They did 2 laps at the beginning to try to do the race, most drivers said it wasnt safe so they suspended. They actually atopped the clock to try to make this happen which makes no sense im Hamilton’s conspiracy theory. They then tried again and conditions were worse (drivers agreed) so they suspended.

        I understand that no one whines more than F1 fans but I sae no reason to think this was something other to a genuine attempt to get this going.

        1. Hamilton never said there was a conspiracy. He said that the fans paid to watch a race and they didn’t get to see one. So refund their money.

          1. Sam (@undercut677)
            30th August 2021, 2:28

            He said they did those 2 laps so that fans dont have to get refunded. He is wrong.

  9. It seems that I’m in a minority here, but I have no problem with this from a sporting perspective. I prefer this over throwing away results from quali. But I agree with Lewis that fans should get their money back.

    1. Totally agree. If you just take the title protagonists as an example, Verstappen has gained five points on Hamilton. Some may say that is unfair as he didn’t have do beat him in the race to gain those points, but the fact that he took pole and Hamilton was only third means that if there had been a race, it is most likely that Verstappen would have gained some points on Hamilton, so the half-points are fair. Nothing wrong with what Masi did today, I think it’s just the anger of watching replays of people pulling trollies in slow motion and rain falling for four hours that is getting to people. Nowhere to point the blame today, except at the weather gods.

      1. For me it’s more that races like these have a chance to become the best of the decade, rain doesn’t come often and they ruin it by not letting them start.

        I believe hamilton however that the conditions were not fine since he’s a good wet weather driver, but verstappen said the conditions were a bit better at 15, maybe they could’ve tried then.

        1. If Michelin or Bridgestone were responsible for the tires, we would have started qualifying and the race on time. Pirelli’s product is an absolute disgrace.

          1. The tyres weren’t the problem. The cars could have been on rails, but if visibility is as bad as that you cannot expect them to race. Even from the camera position (higher, so better visibility above the spray) and only at safety car speed (slower, so less spray), you couldn’t see the lights on a car 100m ahead of you!

          2. Indeed. Pirelli should be making better wet weather tyres. Michelin and Bridgestone could provided us with those. Now, all we hear about is aquaplaning everytime it rains. Visibility is and has always been a problem in rain conditions. Remember Schumacher-Coulthard at Spa? That is no reason to call it off.

  10. The lady doth protest too much. Hamilton was (understandably) hoping for an annulled race. Not losing five points in three laps. A bit transparent.

    1. Hamilton didn’t object to the points at all. He’s saying that fans who paid to watch a race got nothing for their money and should be refunded. Do you like paying for something and then not getting it?

  11. Josh Hetherton
    29th August 2021, 20:05

    Good comment by Lewis. Would be better if he ponied up and paid himself

    1. But why should he, and he alone be liable? Surely it would be fair for all the drivers to “pony up”.

      Or alternatively, it’s a ridiculous suggestion.

    2. Davethechicken
      30th August 2021, 8:40

      Do you personally pay the debts for the company that employs you?

  12. Lewis might be right, but is he willing to give up his salary for today?
    Because somebody will have to pay to refund the fans.
    Does he expect the Spa circuit to pay FIA to be allowed to host this farce of a race AND refund the fans? They don’t have this money. They had to be bailed out several in the past already by the Walloon government

    1. It’s unreasonable to ask for the Spa circuit to reimburse the fans, they are already failing to turn a profit due to the massive fees Liberty asks. Liberty should footpaths bill.

      1. Good luck with that!

  13. Just imagine the scene. You spend around five or six hours sitting around and standing on the wet slopes covered in grass and mud, 13 degrees and absolutely no basic needs covered. You’re actually in a perfect shape to catch serious flu. And Liberty man does everything he can to assure his corporation that those soaked peasants won’t get a dime back. I admire Hamilton for pointing this out so sharply and openly.

    1. Couldn’t have said it better myself

    2. @pironitheprovocateur

      Totally agree with what you said. The first event today was Formula 3 Race with a scheduled 1040 start.

      If the gates opened at say 1000, some fans could’ve been trackside for at least 5 hours before the scheduled F1 start time…

      1. Remco de Waal
        30th August 2021, 7:38

        I can tell you the gates opened way earlier, because we were trackside at 7:00. It was one hell of a long day.

  14. Did I miss the part where Lewis complained about points being given? I’m pretty sure all be said was they didn’t race and the fans should be refunded.

    1. “Money talks,” said Hamilton. “And it was literally the two laps to start the race – it’s all a money scenario. So everyone gets their money.

      This has nothing to do with the fans.
      And as much as I agree that it would be nice to reimburse the fans (who would pay?), I could only see this as a ‘sore loser’ (podium finisher) comment.

      PS I understand that a judge might cancel next week’s race. They could run Spa again without charging the spectators who lost out today.

      1. Davethechicken
        30th August 2021, 8:43

        We pretend Max said the fans should be refunded, not Lewis. Would you still be posting arguments to the contrary?

  15. The Spa owners and organizers provided the venue for the race, made places available for the fans, made sure they had access to water, food and toilet facilities, made sure that the teams had all they needed and otherwise put in the effort to be sure that it would have been an enjoyable experience if the race could have been held. They shouldn’t been held financially responsible for the weather, especially since they had no say in how the race was run. Maybe that’s the problem with the Gen X or Gen Z or whatever the hell they are called nowadays, expecting a refund if things don’t go perfectly for them.

    And I don’t see Lewis or any other driver volunteering to return part of their salary since they didn’t race today. Or donate it to a fund for the track owners so they could indeed refund tickets. No, they will just complain and make pandering noises to the crowd and then hop on their jets and leave.

  16. Lewis doesn’t have a clue how venues-FIA contract works.

    1. Maybe you should go and help him out.

      Oh wait! You are a nobody.

  17. The FIA isn’t responsible for the weather, but it’s the kind of thing that would be good for F1.

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