Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021

Verstappen first in F1’s shortest-ever race as rain ruins Belgian GP

2021 Belgian Grand Prix summary

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Max Verstappen was classified as the winner of the Belgian Grand Prix which was abandoned after just three laps, all of which took place behind the Safety Car.

George Russell was classified second for Williams and claimed his first podium in the shortest race in Formula 1 history.

The event was finally called off due to unsafe track conditions following over three-and-a-half hours of delays after consistent and unrelenting rainfall.

It was red-flagged after a total of three tours of Spa behind the Safety Car, race director Michael Masi confirmed that the race would not resume. Verstappen took the top spot on the podium, ahead of Russell and Lewis Hamilton.

Before the race, Sergio Perez crashed into the barriers at Les Combes on his reconnaissance lap to the grid, causing major damage to the front of his car and seemingly ending his race before it had even begun.

After a short delay, the drivers were released from the pitlane behind the safety car for a series of formation laps to assess the conditions. With multiple drivers complaining about lack of visibility due to the spray from the track surface, the start procedure was suspended and drivers were told to line up in the pitlane.

Following almost two hours of delay, the stewards suspended the three-hour operational restriction for the race to be completed, allowing for a longer window to potentially start the race.

Eventually, race control decided to attempt to start the race under safety car procedures for a second time. However, the rain continued to fall and the visibility issues that prevented the initial start of the race remained. A one hour race time limit commenced, allowing the race to officially begin.

With conditions proving un-raceable, the red flag was flown and the drivers were called back into the pitlane for a second time. After a short delay, the FIA confirmed that the race would not resume.

Behind Verstappen and Russell, Lewis Hamilton took the final spot on the podium in third.

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2021 Belgian Grand Prix reaction

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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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67 comments on “Verstappen first in F1’s shortest-ever race as rain ruins Belgian GP”

  1. Oskari Kantonen
    29th August 2021, 18:12

    Now that they finally have wet weather tyres that can handle the conditions, they refuse to race because of visibility concerns. Why bother? What a waste of rubber

  2. Imagine trying to explain why there was no racing in the race, by any body, at any point, and still counting it as a race…

    1. @skipgamer great argument in favor of sprint races on Saturday

      1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
        30th August 2021, 6:16

        I, for one, thought Liberty’s sprint race instincts might kick in and they’d send the drivers out at around 40 mins left on the clock. They called it off shortly after.

    2. And having a podium ceremony, handing out trophies and championship points

  3. Mr. Masi and Dictatorship Media, get your filthy hands off this sport. What I’ve seen today is the biggest farce in history of Formula One. A big insult to us, the fans, especially those who spent a great anmount of money on being there in Spa. If you cannot run in Spa under the rain, retire it for the calendar, or you can’t ” ‘cuz theez eez Spa”?

    I just hope the fans cause a big mess there in Spa. We cannot settle on this.

  4. That is probably the most bizarre experience in my years watching F1, but it looked like the right decision. Eau Rouge and Raidillon in these conditions could have been lethal.

    If I’m not mistaken, Max has tied Stirling Moss as the driver with most wins without a title.

    As a side note, Mazepin was flying out there :)

    1. Max has tied Stirling Moss as the driver with most wins without a title.

      Great stat (a bit misplaced, this is not the Spa stats page), I predict that Max will soon surpass the great Moss, but then will give him back this kinda bittersweet record by getting his WDC

  5. Australia 1991…but they keep the drivers safe.

    Don’t know if I will be bashed for saying this.

    1. Nope.

      It’s been decades since anyone sacrificed dry performance to build a car that can cope with these situations. And the more races get canceled, the less likely they ever will.

      1. I’ll move on from this, then. This is Michael Masi’s USA 2005. Time for a dismissal. No other options anymore.

        1. What would you have done then?

          1. Didn’t I said I’ll move on?

  6. Well done Will for managing to hit your word count, genuinely one of the more impressive performances we’ve seen today.

    1. No need to be rude, as someone who didn’t watch today’s proceedings (let’s not call it a race), I was happy reading this recap.

      1. (@paeschli) I don’t think (@red-andy) was meant to be rude to Will, just being extremely sarcastic, because frankly this race did not deserve any more than 2 paragraphs. Whoosh.

  7. Well… That was a farce.
    If there are no conditions for racing, just cancel the race, if postponing it is not an option.
    Calling it a race and giving away points and podiums nobody deserved really doesn’t work for me.
    I sincerely doubt Russell will think of this as his first podium, I think he’ll prefer the next one, the one he actually races for and wins.

    1. He seemed quite happy and flamboyant, cheering all over the place. Lost a lot of places in my Most Respected F1 Drivers of the Sport. Today was the day to say something sensible. But the guy is young and knows nothing about life and F1’s history.

    2. My view exactly

  8. Imagine the comments if Lewis won the way

  9. Disappointment really. I don’t expect Zandvoort to offer a good race due to track layout. In fact, Zandvoort could be closer to Monaco or Hungary in terms of overtaking. Only positive is that we have 2 straight race weekends to compensate for this crazy event. I do not want to be handling the fans cause I expect a lot of refund demands. Next, I expect some teams to complain about the result, but I think the outcome will remain the same.

  10. Calling it a race is a joke. It was a tragedy not a race. Should have cancelled it outright or moved it to monday.

  11. This race makes 1991 Australian and 2005 US GPs look great in comparison.
    Russell’s and Mazepin’s achievements stand out + the only piece of proper on-track action provided by Perez.

    1. Australia ’91, USA ’05, Belgium ’21 joint worst. 100%.

    2. Never heard of Australia 1991 before (I wasn’t born then). But someone already edited the Wikipedia page:
      The 1991 Australian Grand Prix was a Formula One motor race held on 3 November 1991 at the Adelaide Street Circuit. It was the 16th and final race of the 1991 Formula One World Championship. Torrential rain resulted in the race being stopped after just 16 of the scheduled 81 laps had been completed. Confusion caused the official results to be declared from the end of the 14th lap. It held the record for being the shortest Formula One World Championship race ever held until the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, which was stopped after one official lap.

      1. I also wasn’t born yet but seen some of it online ofc, and imo it was a great race, despite being a schumacher fan, it was a challenge to keep it on track and it was imo handled better than this race was.

  12. To be fair, there was no chance to race today. It simply would have been too dangerous, but I don’t really understand why we couldn’t have just raced tomorrow instead and cancelled practice in Zandvoort if they can’t get there in time. I am sure enough marshalls would still have turned up even on a Monday. But giving them half-points is still okay, as then at least qualifying meant something.

    The one solution which I’m shocked Masi didn’t think of was a paper boat race from Les Combes down to La Source, with a boat representing each driver and them starting in the order of their grid positions. Seems like the obvious thing to do, for me.

    1. A wise man named John Cleland once asked the question, ‘is this stock car racing or is this motorsport?!’ For once, I sort of wish it was stock car racing because then we would at least get to race on Monday instead.

      1. The other thing about stock car racing is that, they require either 50% race distance, or 2 stages to be complete before they can call a race official. Full points regardless of distance, but at least they have a chance to race for it.

  13. Millionaires from the race control room and the management of F1 have agreed that in order to screw the people who blow half of their monthly income on the tickets and who were waiting in the rain for 4 hours, they need to do an absolute bare minimum and race for the least amount of time possible to avoid demands for refund. Honestly, the F1 as a business is spoilt to the core. The race could have been postponed till tomorrow if it wasn’t for the maniacal need to have your team already packed and sent to the next race location even before the current one starts, or they could at least be consistent, do 20 or more laps behind the safety car and then rule the conditions are impossible to drive. But don’t expect any kind of consistency with Masi. A corporate muppet with a saviour complex who brought red flags to every other GP, and who rules according to commercial needs of his plastic opportunism.

    1. As if they even thought about the fans at all! They are probably still congratulating themselves on clawing that precious tv money into the sport due to their “clever” interpretation of the rules, and no idea that anyone at all is annoyed about it

    2. @pironitheprovocateur

      The race could have been postponed till tomorrow

      It couldn’t. There is no provision in the regulations for a race to be delayed a day until Monday & it’s also not as simple a thing as simply saying ‘Lets come back tomorrow’.

      Also have problems such as broadcasters potentially not been able to air the race on Monday, Marshall’s having full time jobs that would prevent them been able to work a race on Monday, Many people in teams/broadcasters who attend races tend to leave on Sunday night & therefore not have hotels booked to allow them to stay an extra night as well as travel plans that would be difficult to alter.

      The double/triple headers do create logistical problems as well but even if there was no race next weekend you would still have the problem of travel for all of the equipment already been organised & a lot of that stuff isn’t something you can just change last minute as everything is planned well in advance with no room to shift it to delay a race a day.

      Maybe with a shorter/less compact calendar they could reschedule the race later in the year but even then with Spa I think the possibility of the weather conditions been similar to this only gets more likely later in the year which is why most of the big races (WEC/24hrs/F1) take place when they do rather than later in the year.

      1. USA Open does it. Even in the extreme event of the Final. Remember Nadal playing on Monday because of rain. Same thing as in F1. Sponsor’s all over the place, people on supporting jobs who have to attend their jobs on monday, etc etc. And they had all the weekend to master a plan B in case this happen, which wasn’t the case if you listen to radio communications between Masi and team’s boards. They wanted to fulfill the tickbox to prevent lawsuits. That’s all.

        1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
          30th August 2021, 6:24

          Cancelling the race, or postponing it was never the issue. It was the fact that they decided to run 3 laps to meet the contractual demands and get the payout, with potential ramifications to the world championship standings and refund of tickets.

      2. I totally agree. Postponing the race until Monday would be a nightmare, and there isn’t any guarantee the weather would be much different on Monday. Thousands of decisions were made that in part revolved around the race being completed on Sunday afternoon. Months ago, in order to minimise costs, broadcasters hired satellite TV channels specifically for the race, and suddenly hiring more satellite capacity at short notice costs money. Like it or not, broadcasters have to make a profit, so extending the race to Monday would mean those costs would be passed on to us, the viewers.

  14. Very dirty job by FIA.
    Might lead to financial ruin of the circuit of Spa.

    Spa has to pay to host the race.
    Fans might want to get a return of their money (I would)
    FIA decides to call it an official race.
    Spa probably can’t get money back from FIA and might have to pay back the fans.
    FIA doesn’t lose a dime, instead makes lots of money, but circuit of Spa might go bankrupt.

    FIA: Fools International Alliance

    1. Hopefully Spa sues Liberty/FIA over this farce; they will be dealing with a lot of refund requests, Max “win” notwithstanding. Pretending that was a race to satisfy contractual obligations is disgusting.

  15. Isn’t there an option to cancel a race and award nul points? What can be more farcical than not having the race but still awarding half points? Not even 25% of the race was run. I understand the severity of the conditions, but why award points for a race that never happened?

    1. So that you don’t have to refund tickets

    2. Then FIA probably had to pay back a lot of money to the circuit, teams, sponsors, …
      Now they get to keep the money and screw the rest!

      Totally disrespectfull!

  16. Kudos to @pironitheprovocateur . Great comment mate.

  17. Screw this, I’m watching football.

  18. Too strange: the shortest F1 race that I watched for three and half hours.

    So what was the average speed?

    1. 12 miles/3.5 hrs ~ 3.7 mph

      1. Ahah, that’s slow!

  19. Here’s my two cents on why I think it’s fair and representative that points got handed out for (an otherwise farcical) two laps of nothing behind a safety car.
    Qualifying and grid position should mean something. It should be something with merit and which gives you an advantage. That’s what Saturdays are for – indeed, it’s what F1 is trying to emphasise with the Sprint Qualifying – not just the main race should be the ultimate determination of points. How would it have felt if the drivers who did best in qualifying never had a chance to capitalise on that? If this went down as a race weekend with qualifying but without a race and therefore without points? That would entirely negate the rest of the weekend and the point of a calendar of races. I’m not happy that they undertook the cheap trick of doing two laps to hand out a token result. It feels weak and completely ridiculous. Have them riding behind the SC for twenty laps and it least it means drivers might earn it, make mistakes or something. But, it is the right call to give points here.
    I understand if people disagree, but imagine this season ending with less points difference than were given out here. Imagine qualifying not meaning anything. To me, that would have been even more pointless.

    1. @hahostolze I agree.

      Sergio Perez said something similar on Sky. That he felt it was fine to call the race result & award half points as it meant that the rest of the weekend & big risks that were taken in qualifying still counted for something.

      If the race was just called off your basically saying that Lando Norris pushing for a lap time in Q3 & having a big accident was for nothing. That Russell aquaplaning & nearly crashing half way down the straight only to come back & pull out o mega lap that nearly got him pole was for nothing. That drivers doing as many laps as they did over the weekend was for nothing.

      Yes the race been called & points awarded in the way they were is unsatisfying, But i’d actually rather this than the race just be abandoned with nothing awarded which thus rendered the rest of the weekend & all the risks the drivers took on Friday/Saturday meaningless.

      1. @gt-racer thank you, entirely my point indeed

        1. I agree with your point. Put simply, qualifying is still a competitive F1 session, whereas practice isn’t. So awarding some points based those results is justifiable. Rallying is a time trial that is something like a cumulative qualifying event, and people are fine with that. On Saturday we watched the Belgian Tarmac Rally in F1 class machinery. :)

        2. When you take a penalty because the rules stipulate it when you change engines or gearboxes, you are allowed the opportunity to fight and score a better position. Drivers who qualified and crashed or incured penalties in previous races were able to score points. A few drivers were denied that opportunity with the decision this Belgium GP

      2. Points are earned on Sunday. If Peres wants otherwise, he better challenges FIA. Meanwhile, race and points on sunday, please, no matter how difficult is quali on Saturday.

        Ad least, this is what we called F1 since I started watching this thing, in the early 80’s

  20. ..and Verstappen wins the championship by a 0,5 point…

    1. @qeki so you’re assuming that Bottas or Norris challenges Verstappen for the title? As Hamilton also got half points, this will never happen.

      1. @hahostolze Oh. I totally missed that Hamilton also got half points. So techincally it could still happen but highly unlikely

        1. @qeki I was just being flippant. But I believe there is precedent for F1 championships to be decided on half points…

    2. Or loses, but that would require some good performances from him since today he’d have technically made up nothing if the race was canceled. Still a fun outcome to think about.

  21. Correct decision. There would guaranteed have accidents. Some really bad.

    The 2 lap safety car half points was Ok too.

    1. Davethechicken
      29th August 2021, 19:31

      Right decision not to race, safety.
      Wrong decision to declare a result of a race that never actually took place, taking fans money in the process.
      Surely even the most passionate Max fans can see that?
      Hamilton called it, and big respect to him for that.
      If they don’t refund all the race goers, subscription TV viewers etc etc it is disgusting.
      I won’t be holding my breathe on any refund from Sky for me.

  22. There’s a lot of salty comments already, and I get that. I was equal parts bored and frustrated that we didn’t really get a proper race. Having said that, they made the right call not to get a proper race underway as there was no visibility on the most dangerous parts of the circuit. If they had got the race going, but there was an incident like we saw with Hubert in 2019 or even Lando in qualifying, then the chances of drivers being seriously injured or worse was unacceptably high. Then the salty commenters here would be saying the FIA are idiots, it was obvious what was going to happen. They were damned if they did, and damned if they didn’t. Sometimes sporting events get called off due to extreme weather and that’s what happened today. A shame, but people need to calm down and look forward to the next race.

  23. I always think of Jules Bianchi when it rains so much…

  24. Trivia: this is not the first time F1 goes to Spa and does not race there. In 1985 the Belgium Grand Prix was scheduled to be held in June but was postponed to due to bad track surface. The race was eventually held in September (Senna won).

  25. One things 100% confirmed. F1 fans won’t be asking for rain anymore, now knowing that rain=no racing.

    1. Not true, see hungary and imola, I’m still gonna be asking for rain and hope they let them race.

  26. “shortest-ever race as rain ruins Belgian GP”

    Rain didn’t ruin the race, decisions made by Masi and company did it. F1 have raced in worst conditions before.

    1. Agreed, spa 1998, monaco 1997, spain 1996?

  27. Sad to see those who setup car for race by negotiating quali… but happy that last race’s culprits failed to score :j

Comments are closed.