Should F1 have awarded points for its one-lap Belgian Grand Prix?

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Formula 1’s decision to award points for last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix proved highly contentious.

The championship’s annual visit to Spa-Francorchamps was a washout. Just three laps of running were completed, all of which took place behind the Safety Car.

Under Formula 1’s rules, the final race classification was taken based on a single lap of running. However the FIA determined the race met the minimum criteria for half-points to be awarded, which is more than two laps being completed, as winner Max Verstappen had crossed the finishing line three times.

The decision to award points was especially contentious as the race only officially began after a delay of several hours when the cars were sent out in an unsuccessful attempt to achieve some green flag running. Some claimed this was done solely to give a justification for awarding some points, despite no racing having taken place.

Other FIA-run world championships, such as the World Endurance Championship, do not award points if no green flag racing laps have been completed. Yesterday FIA president Jean Todt confirmed that following F1’s controversial race its rules will be reappraised, including the mechanism by which points were awarded.

But was it right to give points to drivers after last weekend’s highly unusual event in any case?

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The order drivers started the race in wasn’t arrived at by chance, it was decided by a conventional qualifying session. It’s not uncommon for Formula 1 race results to bear a close resemblance to the qualifying order, such as at Monaco, and this was little different to that.


The reward for performing well in qualifying is a good starting position for the race – but no race took place. Had drivers completed 30 laps of flat-out racing, and then a storm rolled in which stopped the race, they would have scored the same amount of points, which is nonsense.

I say

Even drivers who took relatively substantial points hauls last weekend – such as Sebastian Vettel, who achieved his third-highest individual score of the season – were not happy that a brief tour behind the Safety Car counted towards the championship. That’s good enough for me.

But the inconsistency compared to other series grates even more. If the World Endurance Championship has the sense to understand that you can’t have cars plodding around behind the Safety Car for a few laps and pretend that’s a race, F1 should too.

You say

Should points have been awarded for last weekend’s one-lap Belgian Grand Prix? Cast your vote below and have your say in the comments.

Do you agree F1 should have awarded points for the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix?

  • No opinion (2%)
  • Strongly disagree (67%)
  • Slightly disagree (12%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (3%)
  • Slightly agree (10%)
  • Strongly agree (7%)

Total Voters: 223

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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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53 comments on “Should F1 have awarded points for its one-lap Belgian Grand Prix?”

  1. There is “Strongly agree” twice, and no such thing as “Strongly disagree”. i suspect the one next to the bottom should be a Strongly disagree. you may want to change it.
    Unless you work with FIA and F1 and want this pole to come out with the “right” results

    1. @terro that did make me chuckle. I wondered if Keith had decided to go the way of the F1 website polls and “discretely” lead us.

      It’s a strong disagree from me. Easy to fix this with the WEC amendment. Force them to complete at least a couple of green flag laps before awarding points.

      1. Oops, obviously I don’t mean “force” them to run in these conditions. Safety first

        If it can’t be done then there’s no points.

        1. @terro @gongtong Sorry all, no this wasn’t an attempt to trick you!

          The original poll has been replaced with a corrected one.

      2. The “WEC amendment” only really works if you assume that race control will act in good faith. If that rule had been in place this weekend then you can guarantee they’d have attempted at least two laps of green-flag running before calling it off. It’s clear that they were intent on doing the bare minimum necessary to justify calling it a “race” to avoid giving out refunds – simply changing the definition of “bare minimum” wouldn’t have changed things other than by making them slightly more dangerous.

        What we really need is a change to the FIA culture that treats wet weather running as something to be avoided. These are supposed to be 19 of the best drivers in the world and Nikita Mazepin, surely we can trust them to drive appropriately for the conditions…

        1. @red-andy I understand the cynicism. But I don’t quite share in it.

          I think attempting to squeeze two full green flags laps out might have been tricky on Sunday anyway. I trust their verdicts that those were no conditions to attempt a race in. They’re far braver than me; I get the shakes attempting laps of Monaco on rFactor.

          1. No points then.

  2. What question is being asked here, exactly? a) have the rules been applied correctly, or b) should the rules be changed/clarified to avoid situations like the one on Sunday reoccurring? My response to a) is that I don’t know, as I’m not sure what exactly the rules say on this matter, but a strongly agree to b).

    1. The rules were of course applied correctly. That’s out of the questions.
      But there was the option not to run for three laps behind the safety car.
      That would also have corresponded with the rules and had ended in no points beeing given. No it’s up to you to decide which of those two – admittedly bad options – do you prefer…

      1. @alvarius, makes a very good point; the question can be (and is) interpreted in various ways
        Personally, I strongly disagree that points should be awarded when there is no ‘green’ running, yet I strongly agree that FIA made the right decision this time as they appropriately followed the rules, and I slightly agree that FIA did the SC start/running in good faith (though you never know).
        And, repeating myself, I strongly disagree with holding a Rate the Race poll when you also claim that “no race took place”.

  3. I vote for “strongly agree” and I mean it “strongly disagree”.

  4. Points should have not been given. Rhe race should have been canceled or postponed. Its like going to buy a brand new car. Get the car but it does not have an engine. Or tyres. It may look. Like a car. But is it really a car?…

  5. Just slightly agree as there should be points given BUT not that amount but something much less like a quarter rounded down.

  6. They did what the rules say, so that’s fair. They say they tried going out and seeing how it went… And it was quite impossible to race, and on top of that the rain suddenly increased again. If the rain had stayed the same or had gotten less, 10 laps behind the safety car could have meant a dryer track.

    Should the rules be different? Yes I think they should be changed.

    The good thing is that all the gratious points Hamilton got that put him in the lead of the championship have melted away. So game on from now on!

    1. Totally agree! Under the current rules, yes. Should they have done those laps behind a safety car? Debatable and that debate will never be resolved so we should let it go.

      Was it sporting? No. There was no race and I’ve lost count of the number of times that a driver has, after qualifying, stated that “points are awarded on Sunday”, i.e. qualifying is about the starting position, not the ending position in a race. I guess that’s one of the reasons that the FIA are looking at this. Points awarded without a race just looks bad but you can’t always account for every edge case in advance.

      Does it make the season a bit more spicy? Yes. What’s done is done. Looking forward to the next race!

      1. Was it sporting? No. There was no race and I’ve lost count of the number of times that a driver has, after qualifying, stated that “points are awarded on Sunday”, i.e. qualifying is about the starting position, not the ending position in a race. I guess that’s one of the reasons that the FIA are looking at this. Points awarded without a race just looks bad but you can’t always account for every edge case in advance.

        @tallen How do you think the existence (and likely growth) of sprint races affects this argument?

        If, for example, Sunday’s grid had been set by a sprint race rather than a conventional qualifying session, would it have been OK to award half points then?

  7. It’s simple. Those are the rules. Either you have rules, or you don’t. But stop whining about it. If you don’t like it, take up golf.

    The FIA may subsequently amend the rules, but for now they are as they stand. If you have to debate every rule, then the whole sport descent into anarchy, with everyone doing what they like and then arguing about it afterwards. Or to put it another way, you become Christian Horner.

    1. It’s not about the rules. It’s about whether they should have sent out the cars for a SC parade when it was entirely clear (despite Masi saying otherwise, he doesn’t fool many of us) there would be no racing.

  8. Voted for the bottom strongly agree hoping that it means strongly disagree.

  9. If the race began normally, and a unexpected rain came at Lap 2, which forced the race no longer be hold. I would say it is right to give the drivers the point.
    But if the race could not be started, that would be a totally different story. There was no possibility to start that race in Sunday. All the result would be predicted. It can not even be called as a sport! No unpredictable result at all!
    Yeah, you may say if it was sunny, the winner would be Max or Lewis. But there was a very small chance to let Mick be the winner. But now?
    So, I say no point should be given to the drivers.

  10. Strongly disagree is the only realistic choice.

  11. Sunday was such a joke and I still have a bad taste in my mouth that I truly could care less if they awarded double points. From Checos shunt to the time of the race to the 3 laps, Masi made the rules up as he went. If there’s rain this Sunday we might as well tune in an hour late because they’ll be behind a safety car.

  12. No points should be awarded for a non-race. If you want to award points for qualifying then award them before the GP. There was no racing involved behind a safety car. It was parading behind a safety car. If they count that as race laps then they might as well have them going the race distance behind the safety car, to try to remove water from the track and give the fans trackside a chance to see the drivers wave at them 40 times.

  13. Points or no points I don’t really care. Last weekend some drivers had lucky points but that is not unusual in F1. The real problem is that the fans did not get to see a race. You can change the rules regarding the points but the fact is that these extreme conditions happens only once or twice in ten years. If anything should change better to change the cars, tires and rules to make them more suitable for a race in extreme conditions. Would be more fun.

  14. There should be some reward for qualifying, in my opinion. Normally the reward for qualifying is your grid slot, but since we didn’t race, I think that points should have been awarded for qualifying instead. Half points seems like a good compromise for me. Although we can’t call Sunday a ‘race’, the drivers should have some reward for their efforts on a really difficult Saturday.

    1. How often does a team setup their car for the race knowing they will not necessarily get the best grid slot?

  15. No race, no points! ;-)

  16. I have no problem at all with how Sunday transpired. No one has control over the weather and it was not safe to stage a race, period. The FIA tried their best and applied the rules properly at the conclusion, which meant half points and some fortune for a few drivers (though who knows how a wet race may have panned out).

    The whole ‘this was a black day for F1’ and comparisons to ‘Indy 05’ is nonsense in my opinion.

    Should they revisit the rules for awarding points in similar conditions in future? Yes, I think most think they should, including me.

    But it was a truly exceptional occurrence that was not handled any where bear as bad as many have made out.

  17. No points, but feel free to present the Overtake Award…

  18. petebaldwin (@)
    1st September 2021, 10:41

    I went with slightly agree… I don’t like what happened and I don’t think half points is necessarily fair however I also don’t see it as fair to show up, qualify well and then the race be abandoned with everyone scoring equal points. I don’t think there’s anything in the rules that allows less than half points to be given and I doubt there’s anything in the rules to confirm what happens to driver penalties for engine changes or punishments – do they carry over if the race is abandoned?

    I think given the situation they faced, they either gave no points or half points and both are probably equally unfair. As it is, at least we don’t have to argue over whether penalties are carried over etc.

    Despite this, they need to sort the rules out to protect against this situation again. There should be a minimum amount of green flag laps completed in order to score 50% points. It’s up to them all to agree how many points should be given if less than that take place – do we just ignore qualifying and give 0 points to everyone or do less than 50% points get given. What happens with grid penalties – I assume if 0 points are handed out, they all carry over to the next race? This needs to be nailed down so there are no grey areas next time.

  19. No points should be awarded for a GP in which there was no opportunity to make a legal pass. I wouldn’t mind a small number of points being awarded for qualifying, such as 4-2-1 for the top three, but only if it is impossible to start the race.

  20. Slightly agree. We all know that qualifying carries certain benefits in a race, and qualifying bears more importance in certain scenarios (e.g. street circuits) and less importance in other scenarios. This is a circumstance that qualifying carries a larger advantage.

    Would I’ve preferred more green flag running? Of course – no motorsports fan would say otherwise. But in absence of that opportunity, qualifying – a competitive session on its own – is a fair way to determine points.

  21. I am with Vettel here too. He said something like if they wanted qualifying to be rewarded with points, than there should be points for qualifying…

  22. Need 4 tiers of points.
    Points for a full race*
    Points for qualifying for a full race
    Points for a sprint race
    Points for qualifying for a sprint race

    *points for full race 80%+ of laps, 60%, 40%, 20%, less than 20%

  23. People forget that qualifying is a practice session and without a green flag in site it should have been abandoned with a decision on whether it would have been possible to run on Monday with free entrance for fans etc.

    Giving world championship points for a non-event is what I think we’ll learn to know as ‘classic Masi’. It’s good for business, it’s not like they’ll struggle to sell out Spa next year, good for the show in bringing the title fight closer and Masi gets his name all over the papers again. I mean, did he really have a choice?

  24. I don’t really mind them awarding points because that at least means the rest of the weekend meant something & that the risks drivers took in practice & especially in qualifying weren’t all for nothing.

    1. That said under normal circumstances I am firmly against awarding points for qualifying , However in circumstances like we saw over the Spa weekend points for qualifying when the race can’t take place is a compromise i’m actually fine with for the reason I gave in my first post.

  25. Points should have been giving for showing up.

  26. Yes for points but at a third or a quarter. Half is too high.

  27. No race, no points. Drivers were not allowed to improve their positions by overtaking. That’s the whole point of racing. Otherwise, we should award points for qualifying and scrap the Sunday race.

  28. Slightly agree, since I disagree full points, but agree half points.

    Like with Monaco, everyone knows qualifying mostly decides the points on Sunday and no one has an issue with that. Parading around for 78 laps has about the same relevance for the points as 3 laps now. The show is a different matter, but that has obviously nothing to do with the points.

  29. If they completed two laps, they have to award the points, it’s the rule. You could say the rule needs to be changed, but it’s the current rule.
    The question is whether they should have started the Safety Car laps, once you do that, you have no option but to award points.

  30. Apparently Marko is even trying to get Verstappen the point for fastest lap.

      1. @balue Pretty much every autosportsite reported this. Do you only read this blog?

        But here is a link:

        1. @f1osaurus No source, just as I thought

          1. @balue No ability to actually find some facts yourself even in a sea of obviousness, just as we all know.

          2. @f1osaurus The onus is on you to corroborate the wild claims that you made up in your head, but just as we all knew, you wouldn’t be able to.

          3. @balue I gave you at least a dozen sources! What are you crying about?

            Worse yet, you should have easily found a source yourself. Or readily know about it if you actually kept even a little bit informed, since EVERY self respecting autosport site reported it.

            It’s just mind boggling how you seem to think that proving your own incompetence over and over and over somehow reflects badly on me.

  31. Since 75% race distance is required for full points, I think 25% race distance should be required for half points. I also think there should also be a rule that at least 50% of the race must be completed under green flag conditions to be awarded points.
    I don’t really have a strong opinion on what happened this time. I think the FIA and Michael Masi did the best they could with the rules as they currently are, but prodding along behind the safety car for a couple of laps and call that a race is not right. Best cause of action is to fix up the rules so it won’t happen again. It would also be great if they reschedule the race to run it again later in the year and give the ticket holders new tickets for free.

  32. Had drivers completed 30 laps of flat-out racing, and then a storm rolled in which stopped the race, they would have scored the same amount of points, which is nonsense.

    I’m not sure this necessarily is nonsense. Whenever races are stopped before the end, the result given is not really fair, certainly no less unfair than the results of Spa 2021. At least in Spa, all the drivers were given the same opportunity to get their results, in qualifying. In races that stop before the end, you can get situations like Brazil 2003 where Coulthard pitted one lap before the end of the race. As much as I love that Fisichella got it, Coulthard deserved that win more, and that race was given full points. Or in Monaco 1984, Senna was rapidly catching Prost before the red flag stopped the race. Even in Japan 2019, Perez crashed on the final lap, but an error with the timing system meant that he still scored points. Obviously I’m not suggesting Japan 2019 should have been given half-points, but it goes to show that when races end early, the result is not always entirely fair, and I don’t think the aforementioned examples are any fairer than what happened in Spa.

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