F1 considering “options” for Spa ticket holders after call for refunds

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 and the Belgian Grand Prix promoter are looking at options for “recognition” of the spectators who attended last weekend’s event but saw no racing.

Heavy rain led to F1 holding its shortest-ever grand prix, conducted entirely behind the Safety Car, which ventured on track twice for no more than three laps each time.

It prompted calls from drivers for ticketholders to be refunded. Lewis Hamilton accused organisers of running the minimum distance just to ensure sponsorship was paid out and said the compensation should be offered to fans who bought tickets yet saw no racing.

Three days after the contentious event, F1 has issued a statement saying that, together with the Belgian Grand Prix promoter, it is looking into “various options” for ticket holders.

“Following the impact of the weather on the Belgium Grand Prix on Sunday 29th August, Formula 1 and the promoter are working through various options for ticket holders, to express our recognition and thanks to them for their dedication and commitment,” it said.

“We will provide further details as soon as possible as we want to thank the fans for their continued support and passion for Formula 1,” F1 added.

RaceFans understands an announcement on any plans is unlikely to come before this weekend’s race.

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2021 Dutch Grand Prix

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Hazel Southwell
Hazel is a freelance journalist who roams the paddocks of Formula E, covering the technical and emotional elements of electric racing. Usually found at...

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20 comments on “F1 considering “options” for Spa ticket holders after call for refunds”

  1. Can’t wait for all the complaints about how unsatisfactory the eventual ‘compensation’ is.
    If there’s one thing that F1 fans are good at….

    1. I don’t really see your point. They paid to watch a race, there was no race.
      When you go to the restaurant and pay for a meal, if they don’t bring you any food I’m sure you would just walk out and say, “oh well I knew there was always a chance no food would appear I suppose.”

      1. The ticket doesn’t buy anyone ‘a race’ @john-h – it buys them access to the venue and the offered on-track and off-track entertainment that can be provided safely.
        A sufficient amount of on-track time had been provided by other categories as part of ‘the event.’ The event is more than the one race that many wanted to see – so that in itself rules out the need for compensation within the promoter’s T&C’s, which everyone automatically agrees to by entering the gate.

        This ‘restaurant’ did provide appetisers, entrees, drinks, some atmosphere and a memorable experience, but circumstances beyond their control caused service to cease before your (and everyone else’s) meal could be completed. They’d already paid for their ingredients, rent, labour, energy etc so they have taken a massive hit too.
        You got most of what you paid for and the staff did their best to accommodate you with what they had available, but they were unable supply all of it. Not your fault, not their fault – it just was what it was.
        In that case – yes, I would shrug my shoulders, consider that they did the best they could in the circumstances and be on my way.

        I don’t understand this witch hunt to get financial compensation for a weather event which nobody can control…
        An ‘Act of G0d’ is what any insurance company would label this as – maybe those keen on getting something else back should sue this ‘G0d’ fellow.

        1. Anyway, my point was that they almost certainly won’t be giving full refunds top everyone, so a large number of people won’t be satisfied and will keep blaming F1, the FIA or the race promoter.
          I’ve read so many comments about how expensive travel and accommodation was, and how people waited in the rain for 12 hours ‘but got nothing’ – so they are clearly quite aggrieved.
          But it’s simply not possible to refund that sufficiently, is it? There will always be dissatisfied people, no matter what happens.
          And they will complain loudly here and everywhere they feel like.

        2. Using the restaurant analogy, you are right that they served an entree on Sunday, but they didn’t serve the main course. They prepared and cooked it all but then a pipe burst, flooding the kitchen and ruining the food before it could be served.

          In these circumstances, I don’t know of any restaurant which would expect me to pay for the main course. I suspect many would waive the entire bill as compensation, but I certainly wouldn’t expect to be charged for the food I never received. Even if I had ordered a “set meal”, paying for 3 courses up front, I would expect a refund for the courses I hadn’t received no matter what the reason was I hadn’t received it.

          For the GP, I wouldn’t expect the ticket price for the entire weekend to be refunded, and I could even understand if it wasn’t a full refund for Sunday, but I would certainly expect the majority of the cost of a Sunday ticket to be offered as compensation to the spectators.

  2. Half points, half price, and an autographed picture of masi.

    1. I’ve suggested it before: 50% off on the 2022 GP ticket for whoever bought a ticket for the 2021 GP.
      Spa was probaby not at full capacity. If only part of the 2021 attendants get the discount, the revenue would be affected by 10-20%, which might not even occur as next year the total attendance is expected to be higher – less restrictions to travel.
      Anyway, it might cost less than the PR problem they are having now.
      But if FIA listened to people smart as me, they would be in a better situation.

  3. I am genuinely torn on this…

    On one hand, having attended many festivals over the years, with probably the majority of them ranging from being somewhere between “wet, and a total £\/(king washout”, as well as having sat through 5days of rained off Test Cricket, I can absolutely see the argument for “thems the risks you take with an outdoor event“…. Also, added to the fact that this was an unprecedented once in 71year history

    However, I do agree that it appeared to be a cynical attempt by “F1” (be that Race Control, Liberty, FIA, the promotor etc), to appear to be making all efforts to put on the race, however just trying to fulfil the contractual obligations in an attempt to avoid being liable for refunds.

    At the moment, I think that because of the way it has been handled by the above, I am coming down on the side of the fans in attendance

    G

    1. I also absolutely agree with the fans’ complaints about this, and I take ecclestone’s side on the “I’d have let them race”, the james hunt example is good, that time lauda didn’t want to take risks in the rain after surviving the nurburgring crash and decided to withdraw from the last race in fuji, conditions were treacherous, hunt raced on and won the championship, and at the same time there would’ve been drivers who probably wouldn’t have raced (vettel, always calls for red flags, remember brazil 2016) and others who would (hamilton and verstappen).

      1. @esploratore1 Hunt didn’t want to race in the rain and had already made an agreement prior the start to pull out when Laura did—but Hunt’s team put their foot foot down and threatened him, so Hunt saw that he no choice but to continue racing.

    2. Oh, and I noticed I think some dutch fans making complaint emotes when the red flag came up, signaling the end of the “race”, so even people who were supposed to be happy about verstappen winning still wanted to see a race.

    3. Fir the record, I am not saying that this is what was actually done, or decided… but in a world now governed by optics, it certainly gives that impression

      G

    4. @unklegsif

      I think that a partial refund is fairest. The fans did get some entertainment, after all.

    5. If you’ve sat through 5 days of rained off test cricket then you’d know you get staggered levels of refunds based on the number of overs bowled. The equivelent would be bowling 30.1 overs underarm in the rain to the side of the wicket, and that wouldn’t be acceptible either.

    6. Steven Van Langendonck
      2nd September 2021, 8:07

      It’s not the rain per se that was the problem (at least not for the fans) but the fact that the race was cancelled. And they even didn’t have the guts to call it that.
      The festival equivalent would be that the main act would not perform because of the weather. And to add insult to injury he would play a short video clip and call that a performance…

  4. I’ve attended a fair number of GPs and always kind of assumed that based on the disclaimers on the tickets you were basically out of luck if it got rained off.
    Out of curiousity I looked up the T&Cs for the Singapore GP a couple of years back and if these are fairly standard, and I’m reading it correctly, race goers at Spa would not be entitled to a refund for the race day portion of the ticket as the two support races gave more than one hour of on-track activity:
    “If on any particular day of the Race, less than 1 hour of on-track activity (which includes any FORMULA ONE and/or support category practice sessions, qualifying and/or racing) occurs, the original purchaser of the Ticket will (subject to such Ticket having been paid in full):
    (a) if the Ticket is a single day Ticket for the relevant day of the Race, be entitled to a refund of the cost of the single day Ticket; or
    (b) if the Ticket is a 3-day Ticket, be entitled to a refund of a portion of the cost of the Ticket depending on the relevant day of the Race that was cancelled, the amount of such refund to be reasonably determined by SGPPL.”

    1. I think most fans accept the risk of something preventing the race to start or to continue.
      The problem in this case lays in the odd way FIA pushed to formally satisfied the condition of “a race was raced.”

      1. Yeah, well they drove around behind a safety car for a few laps but I’ll respectfully disagree that a race was held. IMO no green flag laps means there was no race, regardless of what technicality they tried to lean on.

        And to go a bit further no race should have meant no points awarded and certainly no ridiculous trophy ceremony. They should have just canceled it due to weather, refunded the fans and been done with it.

    2. @wombat1m That’s Singapore-specific: the UK and Hungary tickets I’ve had did not include any provisions for any degree of refund if the weekend was able to at least start (unless if you had a single ticket and that entire day’s proceedings got cancelled/the ticket-holder was ordered not to attend – the latter is relevant because people driving to Silverstone 2000 on Saturday were ordered not to attend – soggy car park. I’m not sure what happened to those people regarding potential refunds).

  5. I wonder whose lawyer contacted Liberty/the FIA for this to happen?

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