Max Verstappen, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021

Money not a factor in late attempt to start Belgian GP – Domenicali

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali insisted the late attempt to start the Belgian Grand Prix was not made for financial reasons.

Heavy rain at Spa-Francorchamps thwarted efforts to begin yesterday’s race. Two attempts were made to start the 12th round of the championship but on both occasions the Safety Car remained on-track and drivers were led back into the pits

Several drivers pointed out the track condition were no better the second time around than the first. Lewis Hamilton claimed the cars were only sent back onto the track so F1 could claim a race had taken place, satisfying their commercial obligations.

This claim was refuted by Domenicali. “When I hear that there was some commercial discussion beyond that, it’s totally not true,” he said. “When we’re talking about racing there is responsibility, there is a clear process and these things are not connected at all.”

Domenicali pointed out F1 would still have received its income from the race promoter if the cars had not left the pits for the final attempt to start the race. “Absolutely. That’s why I said to consider that as something related to a commercial implication is wrong.”

The sport’s commercial boss backed the FIA’s decision not to begin the race on safety grounds.

“For the people of course it’s a shame because everyone wants to see proper race,” he said. “But I think that the decision taken by race control is absolutely correct.

“There was the wish and the will to do the race and as soon as there was information, I was following what was the situation there. There was a window of possible weather improvement to try to go and try to do the race. Then as soon as they restarted, the comments were pretty clear.”

“Despite the fact the disappointment for everyone, I think that in term of management was the right thing to do,” he added.

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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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17 comments on “Money not a factor in late attempt to start Belgian GP – Domenicali”

  1. I predict a face-saving ticket refund for fans that were on site yesterday. Good PR and not a massive cost to F1.

  2. He’s not answering Hamilton (and the others) though. Why try to start a race when conditions have not improved at all? The only reason they went out, as Hamilton pointed out, was to get a “race” in. Masi said so way before they decided to go out, he actually said that to a team on the radio.

    The radars clearly indicated rain getting heavier. So that’s the question, why else did they go out?

    1. @fer-no65 Especially when doing so increased the FIA’s vulnerability to refund demands.

  3. You wouldn’t trust Masi’s explanations. Why trust Domenicali?

  4. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
    30th August 2021, 11:13

    Sure, and it was bone dry yesterday.

  5. Well money might not have been but protecting their stupid 22 or 23 races (either will do because it’s a record) might have.

    They can’t afford to have a race abandoned or they risk not meeting their target of at least 22 races. Imagine the horror of the shareholders if they don’t meet that target.

    1. @dbradock Since FIA regulations indicate this race was abandoned in an unclassifiable state (contrary to FIA claims), the shareholders will be horrified anyway (at least, if they understand what happened on Sunday).

  6. Wait, what?
    So you are saying, Spa has to pay you the basically unbearable race fee anyways, regardless of wether you race or not, and the refunding of the fans is of course not your problem either, but it won’t matter next to the ~80 Million revamp of the Eau Rouge complex they are supposed to pay for as well anyways?

    1. ^^ this.

      Reply moderated
    2. @mrboerns Yes. No total cancellation of the entire day’s running, no refund (unless Liberty or the FIA can be shown to have breached contract through its actions). Liberty considers the entire weekend to be its gift, not just the F1.

  7. He is correct, the legal requirement to refund does not depend on those 2 laps and points being awarded as Lewis very stupidly implied. They should still refund at least some of the ticket price but even if those 2 laps were not done, they would still be under no legal obligation to do so.

    1. That would have been the case in the UK or the US, perhaps, but it’s much easier to take a contract to court and win a restitution claim elsewhere.

      Civil law has a rather limited interpretation of freedom of contract, especially when it comes to adhesion contracts.

      1. Postreader The contract in Hungary (another EU civil law country) only allows refund if the entire running of a particular ticket-holder’s ticket expires with no session running whatsoever. Two support races ran in shortened form; even one would satisfy the contract as written on tickets if Belgium’s is written like Hungary’s.

        1. (Clarification: two support races ran in shortened form on the Sunday. Obviously there was more running on other days).

    2. Jack (@jackisthestig)
      30th August 2021, 16:19

      Can we be completely sure of that? Might the 2 lap ‘race’ not impact any insurance arrangements the circuit or promotor have in place to refund tickets in the event of such weather?

      1. @jackisthestig It would not have influenced Liberty’s obligations to the track, so the track would have been on its own paying any such refund.

        The FIA’s situation was more complicated, but put it like this: it would probably have been on more solid ground from a refund perspective if it had just plain cancelled.

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