Verstappen wins a race which never happened as F1 puts safety first

2021 Belgian Grand Prix review

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As a full field of Formula 1 cars lined up on the grid at the hallowed Spa-Francorchamps circuit, the excited chattering of the tens of thousands in attendance on the grass banks could be heard over the idling engines sat purring before them.

With the championship implications of the afternoon’s grand prix likely to ripple throughout the remainder of the season, and the track surface soaked by standing water, it was not a question of if it would be a dramatic race, but of how dramatic it would prove to be.

The start of the formation lap was met with a fanfare of blaring airhorns. Thick flare smoke mixed with the thick spray of the passing cars slowly touring through the fabled forest course.

Eventually, the train wound through the Bus Stop chicane and onto the pit straight, lining up one-by-one on the grid, preparing themselves for the start.

As the crowd lining the circuit rose in anticipation, the famous five red lights cycled on in order before disappearing in an instant. Within seconds, hundreds of litres of water were thrown into the air as a stampede of cars charged down to La Source.

The 1998 Belgian Grand Prix had begun.

Russell qualified a shock second but never got to start there
What took place in the 32 seconds that followed would become of the most infamous sequences in the more than 70 year history of this sport. David Coulthard lost control of his McLaren and driver after driver ploughed into him. It was a visceral exhibition of just how catastrophic the combination of a full grid, a lack of visibility and a lack of adhesion can be.

Over 20 years later, while the cars and the circuit itself may be much more advanced in safety standards than their late 1990s counterparts, the dangers of piloting a Formula One car while barely able to see beyond the confines of the cockpit remain just as real as they ever have.

And this, ultimately, the reason why the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix was the first in history to conclude without a single legitimate racing lap being completed.

Even before the teams’ trucks had arrived in the Spa paddock to signal the official end of the summer break, the disturbing recent spate of dangerous and even deadly accidents at the fabled Eau Rouge – Raidillon sequence had been the subject of intense debate over what constitutes an acceptable risk in modern motorsport.

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The loss of Anthoine Hubert and the life-changing injuries to Juan-Manuel Correa in 2019. Jack Aitken hospitalised after a vicious multi-car crash within the opening hour of the Spa 24 Hours earlier this year. With countless other heavy shunts spanning categories from club racing to the World Endurance Championship over recent seasons serving to mark Spa’s iconic corner as an accident blackspot.

Norris returned after fearsome shunt
Those concerns were only heightened on the very first day of the race weekend on Friday. The frightening accident during qualifying for the W Series race that saw six drivers involved – with Ayla Agren and Beitske Visser hospitalised – immediately made the suitability of the barrier position and runoff heading up the hill the main talking point of the meeting.

“Let’s just be bloody thankful that all the girls seem to have gotten away under their own steam,” a still-recovering Aitken offered on Twitter. “I’m pretty sure everyone has gotten the picture of what needs changing.”

As Saturday arrived bringing the rain with it, the Formula 1 drivers knew that with the inclement conditions unlikely to subside over the remaining two days, they would likely be tested to the limits of their abilities over the rest of the event.

As Lewis Hamilton and George Russell both came close to losing control of their cars on their first out-laps in Q3, aquaplaning along the Kemmel Straight in the pouring rain, Lando Norris was preparing to attack Eau Rouge for his first flying lap of the session.

The sight of Norris’s spinning McLaren jettisoning debris across the track may have been shocking in its sheer violence, but also had a strangely inevitable feeling to it. That he was able to climb from his car unaided – nursing slight pain from his elbow – was relief to all, but it was difficult not to consider how disastrous an accident it would have been had it occurred in the early phase of a race, with several cars following immediately behind in thick spray.

“We are very concerned about the corner,” said Sergio Perez after qualifying. “Basically, when you hit it, it sends you back to the track and it’s a blind spot.”

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When the teams and fans returned to the circuit for the final day, they were greeted by a more than 80% chance of heavy rain in the hour before, during and after the scheduled 3pm local start time. It wasn’t a matter of if it would rain – only how badly would it affect the race.

But the challenge of Spa goes far beyond just a single uphill kink. When the rain does come – as it so often does – every corner along the seven kilometre circuit becomes a potential race-ender.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021
Perez crashed his Red Bull on the way to the grid
Perez was barely going fast enough on his reconnaissance lap to catch the attention of the local speed cameras when he ran wide at Les Combes. With the track almost as wet as it had been when Norris had lost control the prior afternoon, Perez slid awkwardly into the barriers, seemingly out of the race before it had even begun.

Having demonstrated how easy it was to fall off the circuit in these full wet conditions, Perez quickly arrived back in the pit lane and considered making an early exit from the circuit before Red Bull team principal Christian Horner ordered him to stick around in case a delay to the start may offer a window for him to participate.

With so much standing water and the rain actively falling around the track, the initial start was delayed. Eventually, when a small window appeared to open almost half an hour later, the field were escorted off the grid by the Mercedes Safety Car for some speculative laps around the circuit in hope to clear some of the water off the track as modern F1 cars are so efficient at doing.

The dissent from the drivers was immediate.

Norris was unimpressed by the pitifully low visibility. “It’s pretty awful,” he said. “I can barely see the car in front at the minute.” Antonio Giovinazzi called conditions “undriveable”. Russell, in second place following yet another giant-killing performance on Saturday for Williams, complained he could not even see the red rain light of Verstappen’s Red Bull in front.

“I can’t see anything up to Eau Rouge,” the Williams driver reported. “Nothing at all. Absolutely nothing into turn five, can’t even see Verstappen’s red light.”

With rain still falling and no chance of getting the race going any time soon, race director Michael Masi aborted the start procedure, and drivers were brought back into the pit lane to wait for better weather.

Safety Car, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021
Foul conditions made a start of any kind impossible
As the drivers climbed out of their cars and overalls and into their rain jackets, a peculiar situation was developing. As the race had not formally started, Red Bull had been granted an unexpected opportunity to repair Perez’s damaged car to a raceable state in time for the eventual start of the race.

The team lobbied Masi to ask the stewards to confirm that there would be nothing preventing Perez from taking the start, should they repair the car by the time conditions had improved. Eventually, Masi reported to the team’s sporting director, Jonathan Wheatley, that Perez would indeed be permitted to join the start of the race from the pit lane – a remarkable turnaround by the Red Bull mechanics and one of the most striking reversals in fortune any driver has enjoyed in recent memory.

There was one snag, of course: The Red Bull mechanics’ efforts would only be rewarded if the race indeed got underway to begin with.

As the wait became half an hour, then an hour, then a 90-minute delay with no let up in the punishingly consistent rain, there was no obvious opportunity to attempt another start that would likely prove any more viable than the initial one.

The thousands of dedicated fans around the circuit shivered under their umbrellas as they patiently waited for the racing they had travelled far and wide to witness. But with no let up in the conditions, Toto Wolff voiced his agreement that these were not viable circumstances.

“As much as I love racing and I love also the risk of racing, this is maybe a step too far,” Wolff said.

Eventually, the rain had persisted to such an extent that the race was coming under threat from the three-hour operational time limit imposed under the regulations (this was introduced as a four-hour limit after 2011, then later shortened). Any attempt to restart the race would almost certainly be compromised by this restriction.

Alan Van Der Merwe, Spa-Francorchamps, 2021
The Medical Car circulated to test the conditions
If there was any desire from the FIA and race control to simply give up on going racing that afternoon, then the stewards’ eventual decision to suspend the three-hour limit would never have been considered. The fact the stewards overrode the restriction the first time it ever became a genuine factor during a grand prix may prompt question whether the rule is needed in the first place, but it also suggests the intention was always to find a window in which a race could go ahead.

But with no let up in the relentless rainfall, even artificially extending the window in which the race could be run looked like a futile endeavour.

With Formula 1 staring at the increasingly real possibility of a race being abandoned without a single racing lap having been completed for the very first time, the question of how points could – and if they should – be awarded for a race weekend with no race became the critical one.

All that was needed to satisfy the most basic requirements for drivers to be deemed classified and half points awarded was just two ‘racing’ laps being completed. But with the race having never started, this would have to change in order for any kind of result to stand.

Finally, over three hours after the race was scheduled to start, race control gave the teams their ten minute notice that a new start would indeed be attempted. With the rain decreasing ever so slightly, it appeared to be the first opportunity all afternoon to at least try to see if the track would be viable for racing.

Verstappen was led out of the pit lane by the Safety Car for a second tour of the circuit. Crucially, this time, the remaining hour on the race clock began to tick down – the Belgian Grand Prix had officially started.

A second attempt to start also proved in vain
Whatever hope there may have been to actually consider a racing start, any realistic chance of racing dissipated into the air along with the water being kicked up by the blue-walled Pirelli tyres on the cars. It was quickly apparent that conditions were no better than they had been during the first attempt three hours earlier.

With the rain beginning to fall once more, making a start even less viable, there was no option but to red flag the ‘race’ and call the cars into the pit lane once more. As time ticked down and with no obvious way things would get any better any time soon, it seemed that reality was dawning on Formula 1 that this really wasn’t going to happen.

Eventually, the inevitable announcement: The Belgian Grand Prix was officially abandoned and would not be restarted.

Although the disappointment was shared among the fans, teams, drivers and organisers alike, the field had been able to complete two full laps under the Safety Car. Whether this had been bona fide attempt to salvage a race of some kind from the circumstances, it seemed the race was now official under the terms of the regulations

Verstappen was therefore proclaimed as the winner of this exhibition, with George Russell and Williams bestowed with an official podium appearance by taking second place and Lewis Hamilton in third. Half points would be awarded to all drivers in the top 10.

As what will likely be a week’s worth of heated debate over the merits of this showing by the sport began, the drivers themselves appeared to be in agreement that race control had made the right decision in prioritising safety – even if that resulted in no racing being possible.

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

Despite not having raced, drivers took to the podium
Russell concurred. “Anything over 200kph, I could not see a single thing,” he said. “ I may as well have been closing my eyes down the straight and was having to lift off the throttle. So, it wasn’t safe at all to race. I think the FIA made the right decision.”

But while the drivers seemed satisfied that safety had indeed been at the forefront of the decisions made over the course of the afternoon, the idea that even half points could be awarded for a race conducted entirely under safety car conditions left a sour taste in the mouths of many.

“The only shocking thing is that they gave points and we did these two laps with the Safety Car,” said Fernando Alonso.

“So there are many people like me just P11 that we didn’t have any chance to be in the points and they decide to give the points anyway, with a non-race. It is weird.”

Even points finisher Carlos Sainz Jnr shared Alonso’s sentiment. “How far into the race you call it a race and how, if there was actually no race laps, no competition, should points be given or any result be given? Because there was no race. Basically, I didn’t race, so I didn’t deserve to have points.”

The consequences of this non-race will still have an impact on this year’s championship. Verstappen’s ‘victory’ follows two disappointing race weekends brings him within three points of Hamilton, while Russell and Williams’ nine points for a shock podium will almost certainly cement eighth place for the team in the constructors’ championship.

Williams celebrated more points, for second place
It’s undeniable that the Belgian Grand Prix weekend of 2021 was a low point in the sport’s history. Rarely have fans, teams and drivers alike all been so disappointed, frustrated and the winners left unable to take full satisfaction from their victory.

Masi insisted the second attempt at a race start was a sincere attempt to achieve some green flag running. Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali rejected claims it was only cynical attempt to ensure the sport protected itself from legalities by satisfying its most basic obligations. To F1’s credit, the safety of the 20 drivers, the marshals and fans around Spa-Francorchamps was never gambled with simply for the sake of trying to provide a show.

After a weekend of questions over just how much risk is acceptable in modern Formula 1, there was, thankfully, no further accidents to add to the concerning list of dangerous incidents around Spa in its current configuration. And with significant development for Raidillon planned to help address many of the concerns before the sport next visits the adored Belgian circuit, it may well turn out that drivers will never be asked to face those same risks ever again.

That is cause at least for relief, if not celebration.

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Author information

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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75 comments on “Verstappen wins a race which never happened as F1 puts safety first”

  1. What a great review! That reference to 1998 was a out-of-the-blue shocker. Excellent writing!

    While F1 did seem to prioritize safety, was it really Masi’s intended objective throughout? Prior incidents in the last 2 years have shown that he seems to prioritize entertainment over safety (the crane on track in Istanbul 2020, the 2-lap race at Baku 2021, Marshals on the track at Imola 2020, the increased number of red flags, the list is endless).

    The decision to suspend the 3-hour limit – while it ultimately didn’t change anything – was very much a commercial / entertainment focused decision, as it seemed to be one that was trying to maximize the chances of getting racing laps in. And those racing laps – had we got them if the weather improved – would have been very risky racing laps, where drivers would have been racing in fading light, wet track and slightly lesser rain.

    While it does seem that F1 prioritized safety, it did so only in the most deplorable of weather conditions, and that is the least expected of the sport, nothing to be patted on the back for.

    1. I do think this is one of those occasions where Masi’s actions were indistinguishable from those his predecessor would have taken.

      We got the “two laps under SC then a red flag” treatment in Japan 2014 as well, which again was transparently an attempt to engineer a “race” in case it wasn’t possible to start properly. However racing was able to resume, and some of Whiting’s other decisions that day led to what ultimately unfolded.

      1. Jack (@jackisthestig)
        30th August 2021, 16:01

        Bianchi ignoring double-waved yellows led to what ultimately unfolded.

        1. You conveniently forgot the tractor directly in the path of a racing car in atrocious conditions.
          If the tractor wasn’t there, his car would have hit the barrier which was designed for that purpose.
          If Bianchi was racing too fast, how far away from all the other drivers was he.

    2. I don’t know. Spa 1998 was exciting, and today’s cars are far more safety than two decades ago.

    3. + 1 I agree with this.

  2. This is always what you do it’s always wrong. That is way qualflier also should give points so if this happens you can call off the race without any problems.

    Note: watching the W accident i noticed the drivers coming last doesn’t watch what happened on top which they could see the cars went sideways (which reduced a lot of energy) and still 2 drivers went in straight in the melee the red ones hit the brakes but the last white one she was really not paying attention what happening on top which she could see before going down to radion or did the safety bar prevented to see that spot.

    1. @macleod

      That is way qualflier also should give points so if this happens you can call off the race without any problems.

      Yeah well they’re giving points for overtaking, they just gave points for not racing, so yeah why not have a points system for qually.

    2. @macleod, regarding the W series accident, I wonder if the halo could have blocked their view.

      1. I think you could be right the Halo would prevent looking up at distance.

  3. I feel like this decision to cancel the race was one of those calls that hadn’t it been made had been one of the big ones in history to always be remembered and hated for not being made.
    You don’t always get the equally strong backing for a decision before something happens as the disgust you didn’t make it after it has happened.

  4. Quick question regarding Spa 1998: can the race director call for a rolling start?

    1. In 1998 they couldnt, i believe. But with the current rule set they can

    2. @paeschli Yes, the race director did have the option of using a rolling start at the 1998 Belgian Grand Prix. Indeed, a rolling start had been used for the F1 race at the track in 1997, when conditions appeared much better. Several drivers involved in the 1998 crash criticised the decision not to use a rolling start.

      1. Conditions were better in ’97 but Ralf Schumacher “did a Perez” by colliding with the barrier (between Stavelot and Blanchimont)

        Air temperature in ’97 dropped markedly in the half-hour before the rain fell, IIRC

    3. Taking about learning from mistakes:

      After the huge crash in 1998 the second start was a standing start as well. Unsurprisingly there were other accidents early on that saw the championship leader out immediately.
      We all are very quick to criticize Masi now but Whiting made quite a few questionable decisions himself.
      He was pretty new to his job back then, so maybe a little bit of inexperience on his side or he was reluctant to admit he was wrong not to call for a SC start in the first place.

  5. Can you imagine the hatred Lewis would have got had he won like Max today ? #RBFIA

    1. Yes so does max #mercfia

    2. That’s the least Max can get after Baku, Silverstone and Hungary. And compared to that this is still nothing. Verstappen lost around 52 point in Baku and Silverstone and pretty much a guaranteed podium in Hungary and he only gained 5 here, so he would have to get at least another 50 points on pure luck to be even with Hamilton’s incredible luck.

      1. NoName is not talking about luck, he’s talking about hate.

        1. Take a look at his past comments.

    3. It would come from exasperation that the luckiest driver this year got even more good luck. As it stands, it goes to a guy that got torpedoed off by two rivals recently instead. That’s the difference.

      1. By that logic you suppose Verstappen was lucky here. You could reasonably argue the other way. A super wet race was a great chance to score a bigger point difference for him and Hamilton got lucky his point deficit got halved AND he got to ‘finish’ third.

        (I’m not trying to start some flame war here, I’m just saying we just don’t know)

        1. Im not even necessarily arguing that point, im just saying that is what im seeing portrayed in various places.

  6. Problems created by the weather are not unprecedented at Spa so it is rather incompetent if FIA/FOM to not have a more imaginative contingency plan than driving a few laps under the safety car.

    1. Indeed, especially since it has been the wettest summer in Belgium since the start of the measurements.
      They knew this could happen weeks in advance, and days in advance it was clear that this a very real possibility.

    2. Coventry Climax
      30th August 2021, 18:58

      This has to be one of the most sensible remarks here, and by a long stretch.

  7. Did F1 put safety first?

    After the first formation laps it was clearly decided that it was too dangerous to even follow the safety car and the red flag was rightly shown.

    But for the second stint the conditions clearly weren’t better. We heard countless radio messages that it was worse (even from Max at the front). We heard drivers question why they were being sent out again.

    If safety was the main concern the drivers wouldn’t have been sent out again as nothing had improved. That was cynical exercise to hit the minimum technical requirements for ‘a race’. But it was done at the expense of safety.

    1. It was behind a safety car, pretty safe.

      1. If it was safe to be out there behind the safety car, why didn’t they stay out behind the safety car drying out the track way more effectively than anything else we have?

        It was red flagged because it was dangerous, and then they went back out in conditions more dangerous. That is cynical and not putting safety first.

  8. With the conditions on the track as they were I think everyone agrees that the decision not to start the race was correct.

    However awarding points for zero real laps is a farce. If the race can’t start and can’t be postponed, it should be cancelled.

    1. And how is that a better solution? That means Verstappen has one less race where he can close the gap or overtake Hamilton in the standings. But awarding points for driving behind the safety car is also a terrible idea. They should have found a solution to race, but yesterday showed the pure incompetence of Michael Masi, he should be fired for this and get permanently banned from the paddock for being himself.

      1. It’s a better solution because you don’t give out points that people were unable to compete for. You can cry “but qualifying” all you want, qualifying is not racing, it’s a practice session and is defined as such in the rules. No-one should be given points for their performance in a practice session and for what it’s worth, I do not believe for a second that those two laps would have been run if Hamilton was on pole. Not that I think fom or the fia is prejudiced against him, but I think they did so only to manufacture a closer championship battle, and had max still led the championship then their decision would have been the other way. This is supposed to be a sport, not a made for tv drama.

      2. @JB22

        They should have found a solution to race

        OK so now is your opportunity to shine, put some idea’s forward.

        1. Trundle ’round behind the SC, and start in the two periods that conditions were clearly better than the F3 race that the kids managed to race in, in slippier cars.

          1. Broccoliface, were the conditions for the Formula 3 race actually better?

            I’ve seen some reports suggesting that it was the opposite way around, with the conditions for the Formula 3 race earlier in the day being better (the intensity of the rainfall being quite a bit lower) than they were for the Formula 1 race. Do you have any direct reports of the conditions on the track itself to back up that assertion?

      3. It would be better than a DNF because no driver would have picked up points. Would your opinion be that same if Hamilton had qualified on pole?

        Awarding points for following the SC for two laps is an insult to every racing driver that’s risked everything (and in many cases paid the ultimate price) to race in F1.

  9. I think this is forgive the pun a watershed moment for Liberty about the spectacle they are trying to promote. If i may first blow the whole thing out of proportion this may show what or where the issue lies. We could say that for safetys sake F1 becomes a dry weather only sport, if rain is forcast delay by 1 day if possible otherwise cancel and move on. As i say its an over reaction but lets see why. As Hungary showed the inter tyre is very good from a bone dry track to one which is soaking wet. What we see is if we go from bone dry track to a damp track the teams pit for inters and they continue. When more rain comes they pit for full wets and when it doesnt let up the safety car is deployed. When its deemed safe enough again all teams then dive back onto inters. So the point to note is that its the visibility thats the issue here. If we want to run in the wet do we (A) suggest once a track is too wet for inters a halt is immediately called? (B) we have seen that wheels particularly the rears are massively wide nowadays with a full wet that rear tyre even with a monsoon tyre construction is going to lift an enormous amount of water into the air meaning anything following isnt going to to be able to see. Maybe the wet weather tryes need to be smaller in terms of width but with a tread block capable of cutting through to the track. As was noted on Sky F1 the construction of the big wheels is a nightmare to build so maybe a different spec for a wet weather tyre is needed? Its clear that safety is needed to save lives but if we aren’t going to race because we cant see then options do become limited. I’m not arguing for racing in a typhoon or monsoon conditions cos there are limits but the rain yesterday was far from biblical it was just constant. As was noted when they first tried to race yesterday no standing water no puddles it was fine APART from the total lack of visibility to those further down the grid. So discussion open, do you want a dry spec race series or if not what sensible options are open to trying to race when it rains? (With a 22 race season lasting from march to december its going to rain somewhere cos its not always summer in a part of the world to go racing).

    1. @Ed

      As was noted when they first tried to race yesterday no standing water no puddles it was fine APART from the total lack of visibility to those further down the grid

      Yes that is a problem.

      I’m not arguing for racing in a typhoon or monsoon conditions cos there are limits but the rain yesterday was far from biblical it was just constant.

      You are right the rain was not ‘biblical’ or monsoonal. But it was heavy and consistent enough to maintain a volume of water enough to be turned into a wall that blinded the drivers behind.
      F1 has gone to great lengths to avoid wet racing not for safety but because crowds are much lower and they lose money
      How many times has a F1 race been red flagged due to rain? I did a quick check and could only find 11 since 1950. So I think this is a bit of a storm in a tea cup really.
      The race should have been cancelled and no points awarded imo.

      1. @johnrkh Agreed – awarding points for following the SC for two laps is farcical and an insult to every driver that’s ever scored legitimate F1 points.

  10. David Coulthard lost control of his McLaren and driver after driver ploughed into him.

    I always thought he spun his car after driving over a drain cover. Also: I miss an honourable mention of Ricardo Rosset in this recap of the 1998 Belgian GP :P

    …one of the most striking reversals in fortune any driver has enjoyed in recent memory.

    This striking reversal in fortune was only eclipsed by Lewis’s red flag-luck in Imola really.

    Concerning the race itself: I guess they technically could’ve/should’ve started earlier, though that would have created a world of different problems. I wonder if the (general) verdict on handing out points would be the same if we would’ve had the more tradtional Red Bull/Merc podium and points finishers below. Most comments seem to agree that it would be harsh on George Russell not to hand him any points after that podium (side note: good for him, well deserved, though this time there was no race he could diminish the good opportunities he keeps creating for himself in qualifying). If would have had another HAM/VER/BOT [random order] podium, would the opinion be different?

  11. RocketTankski
    30th August 2021, 9:00

    I think this was a real missed opportunity. They could have had a hovercraft race. Kimi could show them how it’s done. Half points of course.

  12. It’s no worse than settling a football championship by changing the game to penalties instead of the stalemate generated during 120 minutes of outfield play.

    1. @frasier It is worse because even a penalty shootout is competitive. Following the SC for two laps and calling it a race is beyond farcical and an insult to every driver that’s ever scored a legitimate F1 point.

      1. I see the penalty shootout as a copout. Failed to separate the teams at one game, so let’s try another instead. Nobody in Saturday’s qualifying can claim they weren’t trying ‘because the race is the only important bit’. It was a competition, it is a valid means of avoiding junking an entire meeting.

        FWIW it’s pretty certain that a few sensors could be installed around tracks to aggregate visibility during trial laps behind the safety car and make the business of deciding when to abort racing more scientific in case teams try to game the system. They would of course ‘look’ from one side of the track to the other and average the readings as the entire field passed them. Establishing the tech and associated limits could be done at leisure on a non-race weekend.

  13. Firstly I can see why the decision was made but as @sumedh says above, it certainly is not as safety conscious as it first appears.

    Hindsight is a wonderful gift but maybe F1 does need a better rule for these situations. Perhaps 0.5 point for each place in the top 10 rising up to a maximum of 5.0. Only in the event of an abandonment though.

    1. I missed out based on the Qualifying position! Not on a race.

  14. This ‘race’ was always a race against visibility. And why its so bad is due to the wet tires and aerodynamics making the force of making the water spray. But the main issue i have with everything is that they never even tried. They could had gone 10+ laps behind the SC in at the original starting time. The only way to make the condition better was to get the cars out on track, not waiting, there was close to nothing that said that the rain was going to ease up at all.

    They also could had made the desission to let everybody make the cars more driveable in the rain.

    in my point of view, we never got a try to start this race, this was a terrible weekend for F1.
    Both Formula W and F3 had some good water-races.

    1. Every driver except Verstappen (for obvious reasons) was complaining there was zero visibility.

  15. Typo in the title, you appear to have spelt ‘Money’ S A F E T Y?

  16. Will F1 ever race in the wet again? What impact might that have on car design?

  17. There’s a tendency these days to focus on the negative. The positives were many, nobody was seriously hurt, the event did have a competitive element that decided the result. The spectators did get to see some support races which were probably quite entertaining given the slippery conditions.

    Sure, there was no GP, but all those people watching had what they can tell their friends was an epic experience. I didn’t see much dissent on the TV, just fans hoping for a race. When they tell people in the future that they witnessed the shortest ever non-GP, it will be a more interesting tale than saying one of two standout drivers of the day won a processional race where the car decided the outcome.

    It’s being there at a moment in history, however trivial.

  18. Having the kids in F3 racing in conditions worse than large periods of F1s safety car trundling makes the top tier look a bit pathetic tbh. Brundles remarks about the abandoned monsoon tyres I can see repeating with the current wets at this rate.

  19. The drivers seemed very much against racing due to the visibility, and I respect that.

    I don’t understand the complaints from people that it should have been abandoned earlier. Weather is not fully predictable, already during quali some teams were announcing rain in Q1 that didn’t materialize. Although it didn’t look very likely, I would not have been shocked if the rain eased for 30 minutes, and racing could have got underway.

    I don’t like the decision to award points, the race should just be cancelled.

    I do think the FIA should look if there are some improved procedures to help clear the water. Some drivers suggested they could clear some water if they could run faster. Maybe if the cars left the pits spaced by 10s and ran under a virtual safety car (or at least that system but slightly faster), clear some water, then gather the field with a real safety car to make a rolling or standing start. It is worth looking into.

    Finally, I think Michael Masi did a reasonable job on the day (decision to allow points to be awarded aside). But some more preparation work is needed.

    1. @tricky I don’t think it should have been abandoned earlier, but at the last possible moment. It’s a complete joke to award points for following the SC for two laps and calling it a “race”.

  20. Those of us in the stands with internet knew that 3pm was the best shot they had at getting running at the time, they should have just got going under the safety car and tried to artificially dry the track. To be fair the point they gave the 10 minute warning to start the farce, it really was the second best shot since 3pm but and it’s a big but, by the time the 10 minute warning was up it was clear that it was never going to happen and everyone knew it. They should have just called it then.

  21. The problem I have with people who try to put a positive spin on bad things is that it always boils down to core narcissism- think of how I can entertain my friends with my amazing story of what happened to me.

    I’m sorry, but I don’t agree with this new age thinking that negativity is something to be avoided and dread. It’s pretty useful to us as a species, it’s why we are the species that we are.

    1. Thinking you will fail is the best way to fail.
      No new age but realism: for every problem there is a solution. Some better, some worse.

      1. @erikje If it’s worse it’s not a solution.

        1. It still is a solution.
          Being negative does not solve things.
          Being positive does not solve things either. Realism does.

          1. @erikje thanks for that insight into your thinking :)

      2. Yes, but while the reply to the bottom comment issue has clearly foiled me, I would imagine it was quite obvious I was replying to Frasier. So what has “thinking you will fail leads to failure” got anything to do with putting a positive spin on something bad that has always happened to you? It already happened, and that’s a property of space time that cannot be changed. Thinking positively cannot change the past, and my argument is that it sets you up for mental health problems in the future, because believe it or not, not enjoying bad things happening to you gives you an advantage in a world of natural selection.

        1. It’s about forming the future based on the past.

    2. Will Jones, I did think when when I read your comment that it had the ring of replying to mine, then further down you confirmed it. A contradictory pop at someone you’ve never met, a bit of projection maybe?

  22. Stephen Higgins
    30th August 2021, 11:13

    I think Masi is out of his depth. He doesn’t know the rules, as the the Checo incident revealed. He didn’t know if the race had started. He’s indecisive, waiting until Lando had a dangerous crash before stopping qualy, despite drivers saying they were aquaplaning.

    1. Ha ha. I think that’s pretty much the final word on this! Seb saying it like it is.

    2. Hahahaha holy crap.

  23. I’m one (of the few?) who thinks it’s kinda sorta okay…. I very much wanted to see it happen, it all looked so promising and spicy. But in the end it’s obvious the race couldn’t take place, they were out of realistic options. I’m okay with awarding half points. It validates all the effort that people put in to get a good and proper quali. And although half seems a bit much, the other option just seems worse. No points for Williams there would be extremely cruel. I only wasted a few hours (like that is new).

    The thing that bothers me is the people at the track. They spent way more hours, being way more miserable AND paying through the nose for it. They should at least have their money back, that’s the true disgrace here.

  24. Brilliant review of this “race”, thank you! That Spa 1998 intro was a classic.

  25. I wonder how 2022 cars will change the rooster tails, if at all, due to far less vortexes being created. Does it mostly come from the pure displacement of water by the tires or is a lot of it created by the aerodynamics, which will change dramatically next year?

    At the end of the day you can’t really race when you’re literally driving at high speed through a cloud and can’t even see a red light on the car just a few metres in front, and certainly have extreme difficulty seeing any of the trackside flag lights.

    Awarding so many points for a non event though is simply wrong and it must be overturned. It’s just insanity. At best I could see a new rule for such extreme circumstances where by the top ten get awarded points from 10 down to 1 for their starting position, rewarding their qualifying result but that’s the most they should get.

    1. AJ (@asleepatthewheel)
      31st August 2021, 6:27

      Awarding 10 down to 1 is even more of a farce as it only awards less points to the winner and everybody else gets more. Awarding 5 down to 0.5 is more sensible.

  26. There was no race. 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? A total farce and a total sham.

  27. Based on the penalty kick discussion, if it is safe to send out 1 driver at a time. Send out each driver for a warmup lap and timed lap in reverse order. Do twice if time permits and take best time.

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