F1 should hand out refunds, not points, after one-lap ‘race’ at Spa

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If any driver deserved a lucky break this season, surely it was Max Verstappen.

No, the Red Bull driver isn’t exactly low on points. But he can count Baku, Silverstone and the Hungaroring as rounds where he lost a pile of them through no fault of his own, whether due to a tyre failure, being taken out by a Mercedes driver or being taken out by the other Mercedes driver.

So if anyone was going to profit from a race in which no actual racing took place, the fact it was Verstappen at least has a hint of karmic re-alignment about it. In every other respect it absolutely stunk.

This is not to say the FIA was wrong to keep the F1 field behind the Safety Car whenever they hit the track yesterday. The conditions never really looked up to racing. Sergio Perez, a driver with over 200 starts to his name, binned his car on the reconnaissance lap.

Esteban Ocon, Alpine, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021
Conditions were obviously too poor for the race to start
Nor is it necessarily fair to insist the F1 cars were only sent back on-track late in the afternoon to ensure the bare minimum number of laps were completed for points to be awarded. On the contrary, at the time this seemed a genuine attempt to get the race restarted as the rain briefly eased. Unfortunately, the window of slightly less terrible weather proved vanishingly narrow, the rain swiftly returned, and the race was doomed.

As a result the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix did not contain a single racing lap, and therefore does not deserve to be regarded as a race. It’s clear many of the competitors feel this way: “No race”, lamented Pierre Gasly on social media; “race cancelled” echoed Lando Norris.

Nonetheless Formula 1 went through all the motions of celebrating the end of the race: the podium, the trophies, the champagne. And, of course, the awarding of championship points, which was criticised by several drivers including some of the recipients. Fernando Alonso called the decision “shocking” and Norris also pointed out the simple fact no points should be awarded when no race has taken place, regardless of whatever bureaucratic gymnastics have been performed to claim otherwise.

Other series realised no racing should mean no points
F1 badly needed to take a lesson from the World Endurance Championship. In 2013 its Fuji round was drastically shortened and run entirely behind the Safety Car, also due to heavy rain. Points were awarded, but the organisers had the sense to recognise the absurdity of that decision, and resolved to put it right.

So for the following year the series’ 2014 rules were amended to state drivers must complete at least two laps of green-flag running before any points can be given. A simple fix which F1 could have done with seven years later.

Instead the FIA tied itself in knots justifying its decision to hand out points. A minimum of two laps are required for points to be awarded, yet the race only officially lasted one lap. But the FIA decided, as Verstappen had been across the finishing line three times, he had in fact done three laps. So this was a one-lap race in which the winner covered three laps.

Is Formula 1 a serious sporting contest or WWE-style made-for-television entertainment? Given the risks involved – made obvious by Norris’ huge Saturday shunt – it should be the former; the low bar set yesterday for handing out points and the flimsy justification for doing so suggests otherwise.

Report: Awarding points for Belgian GP “a joke” says fifth-placed Vettel
And so, a series which at Silverstone gave three points to the winner of a 100-kilometre race (okay, ‘sprint qualifying session’) yesterday gave 12.5 points to the winner of a 6.8km tour behind a Safety Car.

There was a telling detail that someone at F1 realised what a sham the whole thing was: The ‘Driver of the Day’ poll was quietly dropped. Apparently F1 is happy to give the same number of world championship points for one lap behind the Safety Car as they would for 32 laps of actual flat-out racing, but the integrity of the ‘Driver of the Day’ poll must not be violated.

The unrealised potential of a race around one of Formula 1’s greatest circuits, with the championship contenders up at the sharp end and the intriguing prospect of George Russell’s Williams in among them, was a disappointment to all. But it will have been felt most keenly by those who’d coughed up hundreds if not thousands of Euros to attend, and spent a day being lashed by rain without seeing a single lap of competitive action in the main event.

Formula 1 wasn’t the only act on the bill on Sunday – those spectators did at least get to see Formula 3 race and Porsche Supercup races. But if the F1 drivers are getting half points for no racing laps, the fans surely deserve at least half their money back.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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133 comments on “F1 should hand out refunds, not points, after one-lap ‘race’ at Spa”

  1. I am confident that partial refunds will be given eventually in the medium term or discounts to other races at Spa. The PR disaster that will ensue otherwise will see to that. If there is no commitment to refunding the fans by the Dutch GP then this issue will take up a lot of column inches and interview questions for that weekend.

    The wider point that there should at least be some green flag laps for there to be a race is just one of those things where you assume it exists since it is so obvious so you never check it.

    In my view the smartest solution is to have two F1 races at Spa next year to allow Spa to make their money. They are committed to big safety-related circuit works which really should not be delayed given recent issues and I don’t want them to go bust.

    1. I don’t know what their secondary name would be called if there were two races at Spa. Probably Wallonian Grand Prix?

      1. Francorchamps

        Reply moderated
      2. How about the “Not a Sham Grand Prix”?

        1. And a second race at Silverstone being “Racing Incident Grand Prix”?

    2. Best solution would be having Spa-Francorchamps once again this year. There are a lot of free weekends. And even may be instead of Turkey. Just replace tickets for a new race. Then refund for those who can’t attend new GP. Spa will get some compensation with additional tickets for practice and qualification. And we will get a race on Spa.

      1. And Mugello instead of cancelled Japan.

        1. That’s gonna bring Europe to a big win against Cancelled Races

      2. @regs Doesn’t the chance of a wash-out just get greater the later it gets in the year? Trying to hold a race at Spa in October sounds like asking for a repeat of yesterday. There’s also temperatures to consider as we know that F1 cars and tyres really struggle to operate when temperatures drop too low, which is one reason why the European races don’t usually run later than September.

        1. Average precipitation in October in Spa is little bit lower than in August. F1 does testings in much colder conditions, sometimes even with snow.

          1. Don’t forget we had a race at Nurburgring very late last year and it passed off without incident. The two tracks and climates are geographically and climatically very close

  2. I have attended 4 races live up to this point. If I were one of the fans on Sunday, I’d ask for a refund for Sunday only, and I hope the circuit organizers agree on this, because it’s not fun spending time under the rain and to wait for 3-4 hours to get nothing except some slow laps, and probably a couple of reconnaissance laps by the drivers before going to the grid.

    Is Formula 1 a serious sporting contest or WWE-style made-for-television entertainment? Given the risks involved – made obvious by Norris’ huge Saturday shunt – it should be the former; the low bar set yesterday for handing out points and the flimsy justification for doing so suggests otherwise.

    It would be insane if we go towards entertainment style. Yesterday, I think the FIA set a decent balance, but the weather just did not want to let us race. For the points it’s hard to decide, but if you were Verstappen and Red Bull, you would argue that what’s the point in qualifying on Saturday if we won’t race on Sunday and if we will not reward those who did a better job on a session that is counted as deciding the grid order for the race in which points are given. It’s a tough one for everyone, but since we did “laps” and the FIA counted them, points have to be given. They would need to break the rules or tweak the rules for them to not aware the points, and I won’t be shocked to see some teams protest the result of this event.

    1. Completely agree, F1/FIA were stumped yesterday by their own rules… Main point is that they need to learn from other series like the WEC.

      I’m conflicted…I love George Russell getting points for Williams, but was second in the grid work as much as staying there for 32 laps (just shy of 75% race distance) under pressure at full speed? No.

      So F1 needs to create rules which account for things which have been seen before! How about 25% points awarded for grid position if no race is possible? At least everyone knows where they are at.
      How about regulating for Monday races… this will not be possible at certain events due to onward travel to the next event, so maybe has to be a non-starter. But at least think about these things before they happen for once!

    2. I don’t see any way that organizers are going to keep the full amount of the tickets. Could be partial refund, could be credit for next year, etc. I think it was premature and opportunistic for Seb and especially Hamilton to start berating the organizers for how they managed things. Deciding to refund tens of millions of dollars is not a decision that can be made while the event is still going on. When there are sponsors, TV, vendors, etc, all helping host the event. You would think that someone like Seb and Lewis would understand that.

      I agree that it was messy and as alonso said, it left a bad aftertaste for them to hand out points. But I suppose for some drivers it’s better to act out in outrage first, and understand the facts later.

  3. I agree that the spectator should get refunds.

    I strongly disagree that no world championship points should be awarded for the weekend. That would make the weekend worth nothing, penalising all those who did well and rewarding all those who didn’t. Not turning up would have been a better option for every single team in that case… I would have been calling for refunds for every spectator for the whole weekend had no points been awarded, rather than just for Sunday. Even though they’d have seen some action, that action would be meaningless.

    Personality, I think they should drop the requirement for any running for half points, and just award them based on qualifying performance if there are no “green” racing laps, to avoid the artificial farce of calling this a race. However, they should not call it a race without green laps

    1. I disagree with the ‘points should be awarded’.
      If the fans deserve a refund (because there was no main event), then why should drivers and teams get points for that non-event.

      And nobody did well and deserved a reward, as there was no race. Saturday is not part of the race, it’s just a way to organise the starting grid.
      And if you believe Saturday is more important than that, then I assume you will award points to Perez for his Saturday performance, and Leclerc for his Monaco Saturday performance as well.

      1. Rob (@realnigelmansell)
        30th August 2021, 19:33

        The non-event was the race Sunday. Three practice sessions and qualifying don’t count as a non-event. A better rule might be that if a race has to be abdicated after quali points are awarded for it, maybe just one additional point for every position starting with tenth (10 for first). But I don’t think this will ever happen again. I think the big factor was eau rogue; at a different track they may have went on with it

    2. @drmouse Even without points, this event would’ve still been worth more than the 2020 Australian GP in comparison.

    3. @drmouse
      I mostly agree. The teams showed up, practiced, qualified, and were ready to race. So give out 1/2 points.

      I think they should have run a bit of safety car parade. That forces the teams and drivers to get the car around the track but reduces the risk drivers will crash at high speed. It isn’t a great show, but at least the drivers would get a workout.

      If the conditions were completely unsuitable for driving the I’d be fine with 1/2 points based on Qualifying.

      I think if they are going to change anything they should allow the freedom to start the race earlier. There were two other races Sunday. I know everyone will scream but logistics and contracts. Whatever. If the weather is that bad prioritize the F1 race. Which is better for the broadcasters and fans? No F1 race or an awesome wet race?

      1. @slotopen Half points for not even a single racing lap is an insult to every driver that won legitimate F1 points.

        1. Points are for the race. Period! Not for any other part of the weekend.
          I have stood on the Kemmel Straight in the pouring rain for a whole day, sat in the stands in the rain after flying from Canada. Do I expect my $$ back. NO! That is part of the deal, sucks totally but it needs to be understood the race is only part of the weekend. What is also being paid for is toilets, stands, property tax, pens & paper, electricity and on and on. If you want a guarantee of no rain stay home or go to the middle east (though you may get a dust storm lol).

          Reply moderated
          1. If “points are for the race, period”, why do we allow such extreme negative consequences on the race from other sessions? It’s very possible for a driver to only get points in the race because another car crashed out in Qually, after setting a time. Heck, had this race gone ahead without a delay, Perez would not have scored any points because of something which didn’t happen in the race, and whoever came in 10th would have received points only because of something which didn’t happen in the race.

  4. Definitely agree that what we saw yesterday can’t be called a race, and I also agree that the rules need looking at after this. There needs to be something in the rules that states that a race is only valid if a certain amount of green flag laps can be completed, and if a minimum amount of distance can be completed.

    Not saying that they should have raced yesterday, but it did seem that they were doing just the bare minimum to be able to say that a race had taken place, when anyone watching would have concluded that no such thing had happened.

  5. It’s always easiest and popular to give away other people’s money.

    1. Especially as in this case it is Spa’s money, as they collected it from the fans and organised the race.

      1. Keith Crossley
        30th August 2021, 13:45

        Spa pays millions to Liberty Media. Government has had to subsidize the event.

    2. It’s also reasonable to ask for a refund if you were provided with a product or service that was significantly worse than advertised. If my friend is promised ‘the best steak in town’ and he gets a bone dry, overcooked mess served on a filthy plate, it’s perfectly fair for me to suggest that he should get his money back.

      1. Davethechicken
        30th August 2021, 11:33

        Your comparison is generous as at least your friend would have got a “steak” !
        The fans paid to watch 44 laps of grand prix racing and got zero “racing” laps just 1 behind the sc!!!

      2. That’s kind of a non-comparison.

        It’s more akin to renting some bouncy castles for your kid’s birthday, but a storm blowing them airborne and a mile away. There’s no winners in this situation. Probably the only solution which doesn’t burn everyone in the process, is to have an additional race at spa.

        Reply moderated
        1. No, it’s not akin to that at all. It’s like renting some bouncy castles for your kid’s birthday and charging the parents £20 each for the party. Then a storm blows them away before any of the kids can play on them and you refuse to refund the money back to the parents because the bouncy castles were inflated for two minutes.

          In the end, fans paid to watch the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, an event that in no realistic sense can be said to have taken place, and they should be offered a refund.

    3. @proesterchen

      I don’t get the refund calls. This isn’t like fans paid for services that weren’t performed. They paid for an event. The teams were there and the cars were ready. The weather was terrible. There is consensus no race was possible.

      When did a perfect event become a reasonable expectation?

      Everybody did their jobs. The race got rained out. We don’t control the weather. Make the best of it.

  6. Spa set the prices of their tickets so why would Liberty make themselves liable to issue refunds? They could end up issuing refunds greater in value than the hosting fee they recieve from the track itself.

    You would need Liberty to issue a refund to Spa, and then Spa issues refunds to ticket holders. The problem is now that you’ve made the race borderline uninsurable. The prescedent is pretty much now that modern F1 can’t race at Spa in wet conditions. Actually, due to the regularity of rain returning to Spa is now a risk in itself from a busness perspective. Simply put we can’t go back to Spa and expect a race in anything other than dry conditions. The rain wasn’t THAT bad, the problem now is visibility.

    ​This couild end up extending to other circuits as the sport becomes more and more risk averse.

  7. Come on Keith,
    You did exactly the same by organising the Rate the Race and (to a lesser extend) DotW votes.

    Also you conveniently refer to generic F1, but there are 3 parties here.
    Who should pay the refund? It is the Spa circuit organising the event, and it is FIA officiating it. Tell me, who should pay the refund?

    1. I think the weather gods should pay the refund as it was their fault that there could not be a race… ;-)

      1. I’m with Bart on that, but, considering that Verstappen was in front and was the first to throw water at it’s followers then according to the “Horner theory on financial liability” RB should be made to pay for the refunds :)

        1. It’s not the throwing of the water that is the problem. It’s the way a driver takes it

    2. As the goverment is involded there will be something for those fans not a total refund anyway as they has 2 support races already. So a € 15 euro refund or something around this.

  8. Does anyone know if it has stopped raining yet in Spa?

    1. They just sent out the medical car to check.

    2. 🌧️🌧️🌧️🌧️
      According to AccuWeather, heavy rain today (Monday) in the same 3-6pm local time period

      1. There was more rain

  9. We all know that F1 cars are very good at clearing the water off the track, probably better than the sky at putting water on it. Why then did we only do two laps behind the safety car? Why not ten? Give the cars a proper chance at clearing the water away?
    Also, for the future, could F1 investigate if there’s a way of reducing spray? E.g. clip-on wheel covers to divert it back to the ground etc?

    1. we have cars that suck the water off the track very quickly with the ground effect that we have nowadays

      As Vettel was quoted in yesterday’s round-up.

    2. F1 cars are good at taking water from the asphalt and dispersing it into the air.

      Unfortunately, human mk1 eyeballs are really, really terrible at looking through air that has just been infused with loads of tiny water droplets.

      This means drivers cannot see the cars ahead or the marshalling posts unless they leave enough distance to allow for most of the water to coagulate and fall back to the ground again, which puts us back to square one + several seconds of extra rainwater added from above.

      Simple truth: There was never going to be a race, and Michael Masi made the right call by not putting everyone in danger trying to force one under the prevailing climatic conditions.

    3. The lap time was about 2 minutes, so while the cars cleared the water on the first lap, 2 minutes of rain later the track was just the same as when the cars went by on the lap before.

      1. someone or something
        30th August 2021, 15:52

        The lap time was actually about 3 minutes 30 behind the Safety Car.
        Plus, as others have rightly pointed out, the water on the track wasn’t so much the issue. The spray was.
        So, as you say, it would’ve taken them ages to clear away the water (by which point the cars wouldn’t have been safe to drive anymore), and the fundamental issue would’ve still been around.
        It just wasn’t meant to be.

  10. I don’t completely get the point of this op-ed. Under any circumstance F1 follows rules and regulations. More than often that leads to exploitation of ‘grey areas’ in the rule book that, after a lot of public debate afterwards, usually leads to a clarification of the rules so it won’t happen again.

    This quote…

    So for the following year the series’ 2014 rules were amended to state drivers must complete at least two laps of green-flag running before any points can be given. A simple fix which F1 could have done with seven years later.

    …seems to suggest that we should’ve changed the rule book somewhere between an event taking place or right after it has taken place, which would create a slippery slope for future situations in these or other areas.

    If you are suggesting that either the FIA are incompetent for not transferring this (obvious) learning from WEC to other series (like F1) or that they should change the rule books as soon as possible I’m with you. Now it seems though we had a grey area in the rule books, one which could compete with the sky over Spa yesterday, and we want to change that in hindsight based on feelings. That doesn’t make sense either.

    1. That’s the longest “I agree” I’ve ever read

      1. Hehe, well, to clarify: from the article I don’t get so much “we should do this different in the future” and more “refund and strip points in hindsight”. I do agree with the former, the latter I find problematic.

  11. Definitely think the fans should get some kind of refund. It should be funded jointly by FIA and the circuit perhaps? Most people would be hugely disappointed to spend so much on attending this for the reward they got.

    1. The FIA are the governing body, not the commercial owners so that’s a non-starter. With regard to Spa, they’d effectively be bankrupted.

      Essentially the problem is that we have learned something new this weekend. Modern F1 cars can’t race at Spa in wet conditions. That’s a big problem for future races because well, Spa is often wet.

      1. No one wants to make Spa bankrupt, obviously. Then the refund does not need to be a full refund. Maybe a ticket or voucher for next year?

        I agree though that F1 does need to think about Spa. It’s quite often wet and at the moment, pretty dangerous by F1 standards. Other solutions need to be found.

        1. If everyone was given a voucher for next year how are they affording next year’s hosting fee?

          1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
            30th August 2021, 11:10

            Considering it wasn’t a full house this weekend, the proportion of people availing the voucher/discount will be far lesser than those who did not attend yesterday but will do next year.

        2. F1 without Spa is yikes, honestly F1 should pay Spa to have an event. Well if F1 becomes so low, Spa wouldn’t even try to have a race there because it’s not that much worth anymore and there is a good chance that race to be canceled. No Spa race is better than cancelled Spa but F1 is much worse without Spa.

    2. @phil-f1-21 This race might have been the last race held on Spa. Last year we had a race without spectators and this year we had spectators but no race. If the circuit were to refund the tickets, that would mean two years without the income of tickets, but with the costs of the organisation. That might as well be the end of it.

      It sounds only fair to demand a refund when you spend hours in the mud for nothing. But nobody is to blame. It’s not fair for the organisation of the Belgian GP to pay the tickets back, because the money is already spent on organising this event.

      1. Totally agree.
        But the drivers always could chip in.

      2. Well it’s obviously a subject of debate. I think the main point stands. Spectators should be compensated in some form. Maybe Liberty would like to partially wave the hosting fee…🤔

        1. Well it’s obviously a subject of debate.

          do you think so?
          We only have about 10 topics with the same statements

  12. Why is Max called out to be lucky??? He is again unlucky, the ones that are lucky are Russell and Hamilton.
    In all likelihood Max would have won a wet race giving his skills and being on pole, likely Hamilton would have overtaken Russell and finished 2nd. It would mean Max gained 7 points not just 5 points.
    Russell for sure if the major winner of not racing as much more likely he would have lost positions instead of gaining.

    1. There is no likelihood. He just aswell as crashed out. Lewis has just as much wet weather skills as Max and faster top speed, so going by your logic he was a likely winner.

      Reply moderated
    2. Because he gained the most points for demonstrating exactly zero skill what-so-ever. Anyone who gained points was lucky, he was the luckiest, and there was zero skill involved.

      1. There must be a little skill involved, after all, one of the cars managed to crash despite the lack of racing laps :)

        I agree with the point though, those who got points can probably be considered lucky given the scope for mishaps in wet races – its as easy to lose out with mistimed stops as racing incidents. Heck, Merc threw a win away only a race ago.

        You could argue RB were lucky they didn’t have to race with a high downforce setup (or equally that they called it corectly and earned the extra points). You could also argue Merc were lucky – after race day turned out to be solidly wet – that they didn’t have to navigate an entire race with less than ideal downforce.

    3. @jelle-van-der-meer Sometimes you must put it to rest. The chance of Verstappen winning this GP was probably less than 50 percent. Most wet races are not won by the pole sitter. Not because of skill, but because of the sheer unpredictability of a wet race (safety cars, tyre changes, crashes etc). The outcome could have been worse for Verstappen but could also have been better. Based on Verstappen’s body language, he put it to rest as well.

      I’m just really glad that this race has little impact on the championship fight, because that would have felt really unfair.

    4. You are right. The one in front would have a great advantage and only when lapping slower cars the problems arise.

  13. Maybe it’s about time F1 looked at an extreme wet set up package. Raising the ride height, bolt on wheel covers to minimise spray, definitely possible and without being ugly having seen some of the scaffolding they hang off the car in testing. And a monsoon tyre like what Bridgestone used to have.

    1. Is it that hard to accept that there are weather conditions under which open-wheel cars in general and F1 cars, in particular, cannot race safely?

      This is like suggesting putting lightning rods on footballers so we can still play games during thunderstorms.

      1. I can accept it, but should we? Maybe the next step down the ladder for F1 is no racing in the wet whatsoever. I attended yesterday and Korea in 2010 and there is no way the conditions were worse yesterday than in Korea. Tons of standing water and the race even finished in the dark. All I’m suggesting is practical solutions to problems with racing in extreme wet conditions. 1. Is visibility and 2. Is getting the necessary grip when there’s standing water. For both of these problems there are solutions.

        1. I don’t think there is a solution to remove spray from any car that produces downforce, water will always be picked up in the low-pressure area under the car and expanded as the airflow exits the diffuser. (or venturis, as per 2022)

          Clearly, yesterday was an exceptional case in that the weather was terrible, stayed consistently terrible, and hit F1 on race day, rather than the Japanese Taifuns that have previously curbed running earlier in the weekend. Maybe F1 could expand its weather envelope to include yesterday’s conditions, only to run into an extra 10 or 15% rain and face the same decision once again. It’s probably necessary to come up with a better PR answer to not being able to run a race on the announced day, for when that inevitably comes up again.

          As for Korea 2010, that race will always stay in my heart for removing any ability for Mark Webber to credibly cry foul about not winning that year’s WDC. Blessed be its memory.

    2. Before Park ferme the team where allowed to tune the car to a wet set up right before the race. At one point they even had a “mule” in wet set up at the ready. Maybe they should look into the park ferme rules. The water thrown out by the tires is not as much of a problem as the water lifted by the aero (underbody), I’m afraid the next gen cars are going to be even worst.

  14. Fortunately I have up and went to bed about 20 minutes in!

    I can see both sides of the points delima. The cars were where they lined up based on Saturday performances, so they were there on merit. It’s a kick in the guts for anyone outside the top 10, but they had their chance like everyone else.

    There is no way that what we saw can be called a race. Even if it were changed to 2 laps green flag running, 2 laps seems too few. I agree they shouldn’t have raced, but it feels like what they did was limiting financial repercussions and nothing more.

    Takeaways from the weekend. Rules need to be looked at and changed and I suspect contracts with promoters and broadcasters as well.

    The only thing F1 achieved this weekend was a lot of bewildered fans. Not great.

  15. Hand them out. Don’t make me wait.

  16. ‘Is Formula 1 a serious sporting contest or WWE-style made-for-television entertainment?’

    That ship sailed a long time ago…

  17. I wholeheartedly agree with Keith’a piece above, with the exception of Max “being taken out by a Mercedes driver” at Silverstone – not the point if the article admittedly. As someone who has attended 40 grand prix’s with my wife and son, including the last race spectators were able to attend at Spa in 2019, the cost for us to attend European round including travel, accommodation and tickets (which are usually the main expense) is typically around £1,750 – £2,000. The least F1 and the Circuit Spa Franchorchamps can do is to refund the spectators for the propoortion of their ticket costs for yesterday, particularly as they were exposed to such horrendous weather conditions for hours on end. Do the decent thing ! You can call it what you like, but it wasn’t a race.

    Reply moderated
    1. With you on that first part of your post… Didn’t know how to put it down with tact, You did.

      1. But the facts are the same.
        He was taken out by a merc driver and again in Hungary.

        1. Move on. He got 12.5 points yesterday for nothing.

  18. The rhetoric makes it out as if Ida was above the track yesterday, we call that a hyperbole.

    The FIA needs actual leadership instead of people that are good at holding meetings, discussing things and looking stuff up in there databases.

    I’ll be glad when this horror of a technical formula finally comes to an end. Fingers crossed Ross Brawn did his job successfully.

    Reply moderated
  19. As we don’t pay for this page I expect all readers to be able to view all Belgian Grand Prix stories advert free…

    I might sound unsympathetic but given the choice between Spa / the Belgian Grand Prix being able to keep the money, keep the race going in future years with all the circuit upgrades they are planning vs refunding fans who have already spent their money, I know which I would choose…

    If there is insurance for this (just like cricket grounds have) then I’m all for refunds as the insurance company pays out. Part of your ticket price effectively pays for this insurance. I actually attended the shortest ever international cricket game before it was cancelled by rain and got a full refund as per the terms and conditions on the ticket.

    1. Cricket has a pretty good approach to refunds actually. If you check the ECB’s stance on refunds (in tests), they have this policy, which I think is fair for the most part:

      (a) non admittance of spectators OR zero to 15 overs played – a full refund;
      (b) 15.1 overs to 30 overs played – a 50% refund.

      If FIA did something similar, then the fans would’ve got a full refund for the ‘race’ yesterday.

      1. But cricket is like watching grass growing. Rain only helps there :)

        1. The worst cricket game is more exciting than the 2021 Spa GP.

  20. Matthew Humphrys
    30th August 2021, 11:14

    It it truly inexplicable that points were awarded for something where self-evidently no racing took place. Combined with travel, endless Covid testing, accommodation and a gold grandstand, we blew several thousands of GBP for this non event and a partial refund is the least Liberty 1 and the organisers could do. The advertised service was not supplied. This was a 60th birthday present for me, but I wouldn’t dare risking attending a Grand Prix at Spa again given the certainty of rain. Is it plausible that the teams wouldn’t race because of the impact of crash damage under the cap? Possibly a nail in the coffin for the classic North European Grand Prix?

    Reply moderated
  21. Just to comment on the ‘two green flag laps’ bit. I still think if that rule was implemented like that, most fans (and probably the drivers) would regard a race as a joke if only two racing laps happened and that constituted a race. It needs to be more substantial, like 25% of the race distance as a bare minimum I think. Something like less than 25% of race distance = no points. 25%-74% of race distance = half points. 75% or more, then full points can be given.

  22. As well as points and pounds (or euros), Bottas and Stroll should serve their penalties at Zandvoort for demolishing the front half of the grid in Hungary – it’s ridiculous that they get away with it because there wasn’t a race…

    1. If anything, their penalties have been even harsher.
      They are both out of the points.

      1. Some one did ask (in the BBC commentary) if the penalties would be carried forward if the race had been cancelled. Its a moot point now thats its been called a “race” – even without, strictly speaking, they did take the grid penalties.

        If there had been a race, BOT at least had the car to get back up to 3rd or 4th, and lost out more this way. Somewhow I’m not 100% confident that would have been the outcome.

  23. The supreme irony of the weekend is that the FIA is always trying to reign in teams that find creative interpretations of the rules and now the teams are trying to reign in the FIA’s interpretation of the rules. The 2 or 3 lap rule clearly was intended to mean 2 or 3 laps of actual racing which would still suck but is still racing. A car parade is not a race.

  24. Could it be the case that the wider cars and wider tyres introduced in 2017 made racing in the wet worse? Bigger tyres and more downforce equals more spray equals less visibilty.

  25. The only thing that was a little farcical to me was the podium celebrations, but Russell certainly seemed to enjoy it. Handing out half points seems relatively fair to me, given th circumstances there was no perfect way of handling it

  26. How many points did Verstapen gain from this race and how much he lost in the previous two? I ask because the article says karma helped him but i don’t see this if he got 4 and lost 50.

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      30th August 2021, 13:47

      @bluechris
      Had Verstappen won anyway,and Hamilton came 2nd, he will have been closer to hamilton in the standings than he is now. 3rd and 1st is closer in points than 2nd and 1st if the points are halved. So in that sense, Hamilton was saved more than verstappen in a way.

    2. @bluechris The underlying premise is of course that Hamilton would have beaten Verstappen..

  27. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    30th August 2021, 13:51

    Did anyone else notice that sky had some commercial break during the race in their “Exclusive ,live and uninterrupted coverage” ? This was after the race had effectively began. How dare they!? We are paying for this exclusive coverage without promotional content during the race. Give us our money back!

    1. @thegianthogweed

      I noticed that too. My understanding is for qualifying and the race, Sky should show uninterrupted coverage from start -5 minutes, to end of podium. Saying that, ad breaks have crept into qualifying at the end of Q1 and Q2. How long until ad breaks during the races too? 🤔 😠

      Looks like Sky and F1/Liberty interpreted different versions of their own rules yesterday…

    2. I didn’t pay attention to the precise timings, but I’m sure that Sky inserted commercials after a typical block of racing would have been completed – continuous broadcast time was exceeding the time generally allotted for a race.

  28. SanFran (@andrewfrancis80)
    30th August 2021, 13:59

    My only hope is that if refunds are given, it should be FOM that foot the bill and not the circuit.

    It was the FIA/FOM that made the decisions yesterday not the Spa circuit. It would be tough for the circuit to foot the bill for a second year in a row without any ticket sales.

  29. Along the straight on top of the outside perimeter wall you could fashion some powerful air exhausts to dissipate the spray run by a couple of GE90’s. :-) Noisy? A little bit. Cars are noisy as. Does not have to be around the entire track or does it? Do you want F1 at Spa in the rain? I’m sure there is an engineer out there who could come up with something. There is a way if one is willing. Rear wheel covers for wet weather? This can be sorted one way or another. Good article Keith.

  30. I have been an F1 fan since 1965. The racing and politics today is the biggest farce shown to race fans ever. At the 1976 Long Beach Grand Prix, I was able to walk up to James Hunt and get his autograph. Not any more. Today it’s the car, not the driver. That was evident when Russell took over Hamilton’s Mercedes, put it on pole and almost won the race last year. I have always said, if you want real racing bring back the cars of the 70’s. But you must implement all the safety features of today into those cars. The only exception would be, keep the paddle shifters as keeping both your hands on the wheel is safer that taking your hand off the wheel to shift. Back then a driver qualifying 11th in one race, had the potential to be on pole then next race. I lived during the 1976 season and it was about as exciting as it gets.

    Reply moderated
  31. Unusual strong rhetoric from RaceFans, but although we might all agree the race should have been cancelled, it’s not that big a leap to have the qualifying result be the race result, as the practice result gets to be the qualy result if something disrupts normal running and no one ever says a word about that. And let’s face it, qualifying can count for the same or more to the points tally than what a race can, so to give half points here seems about right for me.

    As for refunds, I would of course like to see fans get something back, at least half. There was qualifying after all, so it’s not as if they didn’t get anything. (btw, do other sports give refunds if events are cancelled due to weather?)

  32. F1 needs to work on creating contingencies. As in Racing earlier in the Day if they know in advance that Weather is going to ruin things (Japan 2014) or find a way to race later (next day).
    Every team that was left out of the points yesterday should protest. Drag it to court in full public display for F1 to back down and not award points.
    Just imagine if this non-race is what decides the championship.
    I understand that weather can’t be controlled, but unless the forecasting system they use is the worst in the world, they knew that the window where racing could have happened was either extremely small or was never there. Therefore, why not announce on Saturday, the Race will be held earlier, just like they do with Qualifying (moving it to a slot that was previously not assigned for F1).

  33. The fans paid to watch a race so they should get their money back. That has to carry on down the line though – Spa paid for a race and didn’t get one. I don’t see why they should be the ones left out of pocket personally. F1 should refund Spa it’s fee for the year and they can then return the money to the fans.

    1. I don’t know if this is a precedent you’d want to set though, @petebaldwin. If Liberty know they’ll be the ones footing the bill, the pressure to hold a race (however it is defined) even in unsuitable conditions would be immense.

      I believe it would have been possible to race yesterday, with a 3pm start and multiple SC laps to clear the standing water, together with expecting 19 of the best drivers in the world and Nikita Mazepin to drive according to the conditions – but it was clearly a marginal call. It would be difficult if commercial considerations overruled safety, even more than is already the case.

  34. János Henkelmann
    30th August 2021, 17:37

    I went to Spa with my two nephews yesterday and as the day started with bad weather, we want to the track just in time to see the F1 race.

    I pity those who went there in the morning to see the support races and who now have to read “at least they got to see an F3 race”. Yeah, sure, but that’s not what you buy the ticket for and you also don’t want to sit in the rain for 8 hours. 3 and a half was more than enough!

  35. János Henkelmann
    30th August 2021, 17:41

    I just hope a few more prominent voices make their opinion heard and manage to somehow convince the management of F1 to refund us.

    Seriously, including the travel expenses I paid more than 200€ for a Bronze ticket for Sunday and many have paid much more than that. I will certainly think more than twice to go to Spa again next year if there is no compliance whatsover from the official side.

  36. Kimberley Barrass
    30th August 2021, 17:53

    Interesting comment about the risk compared to WWE .. – As a fan of both open wheel racing and wrestling, they share strikingly similar risk percentages by micromort.

    The two great differences being that the deaths of wrestlers is more likely than you would think, but over a longer period of time.. often when they have stepped away from the public eye, but are dealing with the consequences of a brutally exacting regime on the body, and the second being that almost every wrestler has suffered debilitating injuries over their career.

    So i would strongly disagree that the risk element should decide that something is sport rather than entertainment, as if I had to say which one was more dangerous to the participant pool, it is almost certainly wrestling, even though statistically the chances of instant death while competing for any individual are lesser than open wheel racing.

  37. I’m conflicted. On the one hand, I’m thrilled to see George Russell and Williams rewarded after just a hell of a performance in qualifying. On the other, the idea that “they don’t hand out points on Saturday” is practically proverbial in F1, yet this weekend, they essentially did.

    1. And on three races this year because some marketing people want it that way. And probably most of the races next year because of the complete support from all fans!!

  38. Maybe F1 will learn not to have the F1 race at the end of the day at a venue when it is very likely to rain at the time of year. If they had scheduled the race for the morning there would have been a window for racing. Forget the TV broadcast window integrity of the event is more important.

  39. Suggestion;
    Why not next year hold a Sprint race at Spa and offer all those hardy, wet fans that attended this years race free tickets to that. This would give something worthwhile to the fans, enable Spa to sell tickets for the Sunday race and give the World more chance of seeing some racing at the venue.

    1. Though I disagree with the sprint race idea, what the hell, this is a good idea.

      Reply moderated
  40. From now on, when a race does not complete 75% race distance, instead of giving half points (which is messy) why not give them points fron the old system (10, 8, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1).

  41. Keith, if F1 should not pretend a race took place then why did you have a ‘rate the race’ post?

    1. Because according to F1 a race took place.

      1. It’s your website. You are not compelled to ask people to rate something you are arguing that you don’t believe happened.

  42. I don’t understand the call for refunds. It is force majeure, if you go to a race there is always a possibility that it gets cancelled for whatever reason, the organizers can’t help it is raining… The points is completely idiotic no points should be awarded. Someone who starts outside the top 10 can easily finish the race in the points.

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  43. Think of it this way. You make reservation at a good restaurant. You arrive on time and are seated. You order your food. After 2 hours you have been served nothing. When you complain they tell you that due to bad weather the chef was unable to get to the kitchen and there is no food. However, they tell you that you sat on their chair, the waiter took your order and that you used their toilet. So you have to pay for the dinner you never received. And you’d be okay with this?

    1. Your analogy is not accurate. What if when you made the reservation you were required to pay in advance and you were told at that time that if you were not served food there would be no refunds.
      I’m not saying it is right, but that is closer to the actual situation here.

      1. There probably was a ‘no refunds due to weather problems’ clause on the tickets’ terms & conditions. But, in the interests of good customer relations and goodwill, both Liberty and Spa would do well to refund a reasonable portion of the ticket price, to encourage reluctant fans next year who might anticipate similar weather issues and stay away.

        1. Of course! but what has that got to do with your analogy?

          1. The restaurant would not charge or food not served to encourage you to visit them again, in the interest of good customer relations and goodwill; which is analogous to Liberty/Spa refunding disappointed fans in the interest of good customer relations and goodwill. Geddit now?

  44. I believe partial refunds or discounted tickets for future events would be appropriate. Don’t forget, the venue didn’t bring the rain. The Venue had very large expenditures preparing for this race that I doubt they can recover. I don’t know if the venue can carry insurance to cover for weather related losses (this was not a catastrophy, just rain that has been seen in the area many times). If they can’t recover their losses, and have to pay out refunds, that could drive them out of business. If they had called the race without the two lap farce, it would not have changed anything for the participants.

  45. My interpretation of the current rules is F1 either has to award full points for this so called race, or it can’t award any points at all.

    1. There must be three quarters of the race distance completed to have full points awarded. Otherwise half points are awarded, provided at least two laps are run. The rules should be amended to at least two green flag laps must be run.

  46. Often in F1 it seems that simple common sense decisions figured out by fans and even casual viewers slip the minds of the gurus at FIA and the seasoned veterans at the higher echelons of the sport.

  47. I don’t like the way the FIA (and Liberty Media) handled the situation during race day:

    (1) They missed an opportunity to start the race at ~15.00 (as mentioned by Max Verstappen); when conditions were most raceable.

    (2) They handed out points for an event that never (really) took place.

    However, hindsight is always 20/20. As frustrating as it is, I can understand the tentativeness of the FIA to run a race under moderate/heavy rain — given the events of Japan 2014 were just ~7-years ago (and Spa-Francorchamps is much faster and more unforgiving than Suzuka). Also I think, this generation of F1 cars have become too fast, too big and too heavy to be safely accommodated in most of today’s F1 circuits (even for a “big” circuit like Spa). They generate too much inertia/momentum, especially during a crash; where in recent times we’ve had numerous incidences of safety barriers requiring extensive repairs (and a red flag) after an F1 car crashes into them. Stretching back to 20-years, the only times I can recall similar incidences occurring were in Belgium 2001 (Irvine/Burti at Blanchimont) and Suzuka Quali 2002 (Allan McNish at 130R) — not even Mark Webber going airborne in Valenica 2010 caused such kind of damage to the track’s facilities.

    Similarly, while I don’t like seeing points being awarded to drivers who barely did anything; unfortunately the wording of the regulations say otherwise. So maybe the FIA needs to change the rules; where for half-points to be awarded, at least 25% of the laps should have been completed, and anything below that should amount to zero(?).

    I can understand the more extensive frustration of certain drivers. But let’s face it, had the scenarios been reversed and they were the ones who benefited the most from the situation, they would have likely been praising themselves for “maximizing their opportunities”. As well as, making placatory remarks of “the harder I work, the luckier I get….” or “you have to put yourself in prime position to get lucky…”

    It is what it is. On to the next one…

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  48. I don’t get why the race organizers should pay refunds for the race not being as desired. They spend all the money for setting the whole thing up. How is it their fault that it was too wet to race?

    Awarding points for a race that didn’t happen is ridiculous though. Glad for Russel that he got a podium, but still.

  49. Sorry Keith, but if any driver deserves a lucky break this season, surely it’s Daniel Ricciardo.

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