F1 to discuss rules changes in response to Belgian GP controversy

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 will consider changes to its rules in light of yesterday’s controversial Belgian Grand Prix, where points were awarded despite no racing laps being completed.

Several drivers criticised the decision to award points despite the fact no green-flag running had taken place. Fernando Alonso, who finished 11th, called the decision “shocking”, while fifth-placed Sebastian Vettel described it as “a joke”.

The race also saw confusion over the number of laps which had been completed and whether Sergio Perez was allowed to rejoin proceedings after crashing on his reconaissance lap.

FIA Formula 1 race director Michael Masi described it as “probably the most hectic day in my role, not only as race director but as the safety delegate.”

As heavy rain pelted the circuit for hours, only one formation lap and three laps of running were completed, all behind the Safety Car. While other series require green flag running to be completed before points can be awarded, F1 has no such rule.

Asked by RaceFans whether it would be considered for the future, Masi said: “I think after this weekend and at our next meeting for next year, we’ll look at a whole lot of things that we can all look at to see what everyone wants.

“We’re at one of those points that the FIA works with all 10 teams in F1 to develop the regulations. And so we’ll go through all the various scenarios and see what everyone thinks.”

Any rules changes could come into force for next year providing teams are in agreement. “There is very much collaboration and a willingness to improve from everyone involved,” said Masi. “So if that’s a desired approach, then we’ll look and consider everything and then each and every matter is dealt with on its merits.”

Perez’s unexpected re-entry into the race, once Red Bull had used the delay to the start to repair his car, was “on the quirky list of not anticipated” developments, Masi admitted.

“We’re testing all elements of the regulations and seeing what areas we can improve and develop for each event,” he added. “And we learned a few more things here today that we will improve for the future together as a collective, working with all 10 teams.”

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2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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35 comments on “F1 to discuss rules changes in response to Belgian GP controversy”

  1. A good start would be to change the definition of a race. If the drivers are not able to compete for positions etc., then it should not be considered a race. I wouldn’t have had as much of a problem with the decision to award points if the drivers had actually raced for 2 laps.

    1. Yeah, I thought that the definition already included two racing (green conditions) laps @velocityboy, but if not it certainly should; 2 laps would mean little, but at least some possibility of an overtake/fight.

  2. Liberty’ll pressure to change F1 rules. Liberty motto is ‘no money, no fun’. But the spectactors and fandom could turn it into ‘no fun, no money’.

  3. “I think after this weekend and at our next meeting for next year, we’ll look at a whole lot of things that we can all look at to see what everyone wants.

    “There is very much collaboration and a willingness to improve from everyone involved,”

    “So if that’s a desired approach, then we’ll look and consider everything and then each and every matter is dealt with on its merits.”

    Can’t wait to see what matters are collaboratively considered on their merits and improved if this is the desired approach of everyone involved. Willingly of course.

  4. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    30th August 2021, 12:04

    Since Korea 2010, I simply cannot believe no one in the FIA asked themselves “what should we do if it rains too much again and we cannot race?”

  5. “This is my rulebook. If you don’t like it, I’ve got other” – Groucho Masi.

  6. I understand that the the organisers and officials were under great pressure to deliver a race but there was no racing so there was no race. No race, no points. Simple.

    Reply moderated
  7. This is incompetence. Such weather was forecasted for days now and they should have been prepared well in advance. Imagine if this was the title deciding race.

    And this race was no wetter than Fuji 2007 and newer cars are much safer than before. If F1 has become so risk-averse then change rules accordingly. Don’t race with old rules if you are no longer the same. Nowdays a full safety car is thrown when the incident could easily and quickly be handled under yellows.

    1. Spa is a much bigger track. The cars wouldnt have dispersed enough water compared to shorter tracks. Anthony Davidson explained it clearly why on this track it was too dangerous.

      1. As far as I know, Fuji has one of the longest straights, some impresive 1.475 kms. Imagine how much spray was produced in the day, and they raced.

  8. I’m divided on this: on one hand, it’s a farce to call 2 laps behind the safety car a race; on the other hand, the drivers were competing and presenting results for the whole weekend (most crucially with their performance against the others on the qualifying session) and I feel they should not leave without a reward for that effort too.

    1. The reason it is called qualifying is to decide how they start the race. So a team can optimise qualifying strategy or race strategy. Rain aside, it is not unusual for a team or driver to focus on just being outside the top ten to give themselves a choice of race tyres to start the race with. So knowing teams decide the strategy they want to race with it doesn’t make sense to now accept qualifying performance as the determinant of the race outcome.
      Drivers also received penalties for various reasons. To now have those penalties deny them points amounts to points deduction.

      most crucially with their performance against the others on the qualifying session

      F1 has tried awarding points for qualifying in the past but not to the same degree as racing points.

  9. I think the problem people are having comes not from the rain, but from FIA’s decisions. I dont think the rulebook tied FA hands.
    If the race were just cancelled, sure, there would be 5 people woonderiing/complaining about that it was possible to race.
    For most people, it really seemed like too much rain to race at Spa. If FIA had just cancelled the race the controversy would be almost non existant, because most people can understand that there were too much rain, but not the farce of running a few laps in a way that immediately calls for some odd explanation.
    I mean, we have seen some races starting with a couple of laps behind the safety car. The way they’ve done Sunday made look like it was just a ruse to say that there was a race. They’d done 4-5 laps behind the safety car, clearingly showing that the water would not gave up. But they prefer to do the minimum to deem the event a race and, worst, to look like it ended under green flag.

  10. F1 is too static in its time sheme on Sundays, there was a small window from 12.45 to 14 with lighter rain, everyone knew the forecast, so start earlier if neccesary
    From being on the trackside, all the build up and procedures look odd, when every other series at the track raced but the main event didnt. On Saturday evening it was raining as well and the historic f1 Demo took place with some guys rocketing their own cars through the rain,.. Increase ride hights, use better rain tyres and then let them go,..but don’t lie to the people at the track like that again

    1. I would have been mad if they would have started earlier as I just turned on the TV 2:55 :D

      1. Patrick Hoffmeyer
        30th August 2021, 16:25

        I don’t say they should delay the TV Programme, but who cares about that on the racetrack, make it re-live for TV spec in such situations

        Reply moderated
    2. Too much TV money involved for the race schedule to be changed on the day.

    3. NASCAR has a rule like this. If 24 hours before the race, conditions for the race don’t look favourable because of rain, they are allowed to move the start up by up to one hour. They can’t go anymore than that because of the TV contracts. The day of the race they can move up the start time a maximum of 15 minutes if it looks like it might help.

  11. This will unfairly haunt Max for the rest of his career. Every milestone win will have an asterisk in people’s minds. 25 wins? Well really 24 and Belgium 2021. 50 wins…

    1. Suffering Williams Fan
      30th August 2021, 13:08

      As long as the number of championships stat is greater than zero, I imagine he won’t care too much.

    2. @jimfromus Does anyone say that about Senna? 40 wins plus Adelaide 1991? Or Michael Schumacher – 90 wins plus Indianopolis 2005?

      Verstappen wasn’t to blame for the farce that unfolded yesterday, and in the final analysis I don’t think it will be held against him.

      1. Michael Schumacher – 89 wins plus Austria 2002 indeed

    3. Nope, even nikita Mazespin fastest lap will be a result in the future.
      Everyone, except some f1 fanatics will forget this annotation.

      1. Afraid not, there are no official lap times and no official FLAP. Sorry, Nikita.

  12. It’s a “win” but actually it’s it won’t feel like one… and it only earned him slightly more than a 4th finish in terms of points. Button has one too and Prost. Some drivers took joint wins in the past when shared / swapped cars in the more exhausting races. All are credited with a win added to their tally. There was even a race with very inadequate timing where 7 drivers shared a point for fastest lap.

  13. I had to mute the TV when that blathering idiot Croft started ranting. Funny how the punter was 100% behind the replacing of a suspect wheel and gaff taping some bodywork while in pit lane under a red flag a few weeks earlier.

    Reply moderated
  14. I had to mute the TV when that bleating parrot Croft started ranting. Funny how the shill was 100% behind the replacing of a suspect wheel and gaff taping some bodywork while in pit lane under a red flag a few weeks earlier.

    1. Make up your mind between “blathering” and “bleating”. Oh – and between “punter” and “shill”…

  15. If there is no laps under green flag, how can they call something a race. Amazing that F1 has all their regulations for flexing wings, fuel monitoring, but they never once thought about postponing a race one day for better weather.

  16. No driver was allowed to improve his position. How can that be called a race? And if there was no race how could points be awarded? Total farce, total sham.

  17. For all it’s technical brilliance at times, F1 continues to baffle me when teams and the FIA find themselves making poor decisions based on poor or obsolete technology. The rain was forecasted well in advance. It was not a surprise. The conditions were very rainy all weekend. But yet, the FIA seemed to be caught off guard by it all on Sunday and didn’t seem to have a plan in place other than let’s wait 5 more minutes to see what happens. I don’t know if it’s arrogance about the belief in technology will absolve them from quick, on-the-fly thinking and adaptation to a situation or if they just don’t understand what it is they are looking at or they are too cumbersome to get out of their own way but we’ve seen both the FIA and top teams struggle to adapt to situations that they haven’t accounted for in their preparation, even if they should have seen it coming.

    Then, after not having a well-thought out plan for dealing with the rain, after they red-flagged the “starting procedure” and returned the cars to the pit lane, which was the correct call based on the conditions, they made the call too late to try to send the cars out again to catch the small window of lighter rain. They have radar and various weather sensors. They should have been able to tell the lighter rain was coming and give the signal for the drivers to return to their cars far earlier. By the time everyone was back in the car, they had been fired up and back out on the track it was too late.

    But that didn’t stop them from completing exactly the number of laps required to call the event a “race”. Masi may have genuinely wanted to get the cars back on track for a race, but the fact that they ran precisly the number of laps required to call it a “race”, no more and no less, is highly suspect.

    Just an all-around mess for F1 and the FIA that could have and should have been better prepared to deal with. That goes for both the handling of the weather situation and the backlash to awarding points for the “race”.

  18. Why don’t/can’t F1 run the race on Monday if they are rained out on Sunday? Don’t Nascar or Indy or both do that?

    1. Weather on monday was even worse then on Sunday and logistic could be a problem. No in the future there will be no wet races anymore due spray.

  19. Same answer as for “Daryl” above:
    How would you explain the monday race to all those spectators, who came in from abroad?
    They had their return flights on Sunday night, they did not have any hotel accommodation for the sun-mon night. What were they going to say to their employers, when they did not show up at work on monday morning?

    Or would you just divide the audience into two tiers: the locals, who can come back next morning – and the others who’ll just have to suck it up?

    Reply moderated
  20. The only thing F1 should modify is what product they’re selling. If a race can be conducted on a basis of two laps under safety car, then be it. And assume the consequences.

    What happened on sunday is that someone made sure that selling a damaged and invalid product was seen as some safety measure and a fulfilling contracts hability. There was no race, so there was no product to sell (TV’s, ticketholders, promotors, circuit owners) but they made sure this mayhem will not impact on F1’s numbers.

    We all agree race had to be suspended on weather issues. What usually happens when you have a product that you cannot deliver is that you either return the money or negotiate consideration. I have a ticket to see Iron Maiden in Barcelona in 2020 that was cancelled for COVID reasons, as we all know. That ticket is valid for 2022 or for the date the concert takes place. Let F1 assume the part of the weather risk inherent in the product it sells.

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