‘Wrong to award points for a couple of laps behind the Safety Car’ – Horner

2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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Red Bull team principal Christian Horner says last weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix was “not a race”, and Formula 1 should reconsider whether it awards points for similar events in future.

Just three laps were run in heavy rain at Spa, all behind the Safety Car, before the event was abandoned. Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was declared the winner and awarded half-points along with the rest of the top 10, who were classified based on a single lap of running.

Horner said the event was “tough for the race director” and F1 “did their very best to get the race going” but admitted it couldn’t be considered a true grand prix.

“The reality is it wasn’t a race,” said Horner, who believes the conditions were worse even than the severely disrupted 2007 Japanese Grand Prix. “I don’t think Formula 1 has ever faced that situation before. Not even back in Fuji [which] was the next worst race I can remember.

“So I think we need to discuss it. We need to look at, in the event of there not being any racing, what happens? Is it zero points, is there some recognition of qualifying? They’re topics that need to be discussed in the right forum.”

Horner added he was “pleased we didn’t take an engine penalty” for Verstappen, whose pole position secured him victory in the curtailed race. “That would have been a bit expensive,” he said.

Verstappen took five points out of Lewis Hamilton’s championship lead, leaving the title contenders separated by just three points going into this weekend’s race.

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“We were grateful for the points, but nobody’s under the illusion it was a race,” said Horner. “And I think that ultimately it’s wrong to award points for a couple of laps around behind the Safety Car.

Comment: F1 should hand out refunds, not points, after one-lap ‘race’ at Spa
“But we’ll learn from it, I think, as a sport, and we need to put the right course of action into the future.”

Verstappen said he understood why the decision to award points was contentious. “It was really difficult conditions – of course for me personally when I was driving up front, it was fine, but the guys behind me couldn’t see a single thing.

“So it’s a very difficult decision to make. And people will agree to it, people won’t agree to it, you will always have that with that kind of decision.”

But following a series of low-scoring races at Baku and the preceding two events at Silverstone and the Hungaroring, the causes of which were largely out of his control, Verstappen doesn’t feel like he got lucky with his result in Belgium.

“It’s not really good fortune in Spa,” he said. “I think we just did a good job on Saturday, which of course put us in the best possible position.

“Yes, to have, of course, those two races before was not nice. But of course you always want to score the most available points and in Spa that was 12 and a half.”

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2021 Belgian Grand Prix

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11 comments on “‘Wrong to award points for a couple of laps behind the Safety Car’ – Horner”

  1. Never thought I’d see the day. Fair play Horner.

    1. Big up to Christian.
      I fully agree.
      Cant blame them for taking the points, it’s the FIA that needs to make better decisions.
      It’s also time we start awarding points for qualifying, even if only the top 3 or even just pole position.

  2. OK a bit out of character for Horner but he’s on the right path. So I’m guessing the reg will be changed to something along the lines of a race must have actually taken place before points can be awarded. I would like to see laps behind a safety car or virtual safety car excluded from the official race distance at the end of the day as well.

    1. And give points for quali when the race can’t happen.

      1. @esploratore1 quali is not the race.

    2. RandomMallard (@)
      4th September 2021, 8:53

      @johnrkh I agree with the first part of your statement. A “race” can’t be a race unless there is an opportunity for on-track overtaking.

      The second part of your statement about the SC and VSC is a bit more difficult to implement though because the cars are only fuelled to go a race distance. If you exclude the SC laps or VSC laps, you don’t officially complete the full 305km (this is one interpretation of your idea, I may be thinking differently to you). On the other main interpretation I can think of, am I right in believing that the race would still run the “normal” number of laps, but the laps under SC or VSC wouldn’t count for anything? The main problem with that then comes if someone pits during a SC or VSC, on one of these laps that “isn’t part of the race”, and the effect that would have on the running order.

  3. Horner is right. Just this one.

  4. i think Horner is a hyprocrit..

  5. 100% spot on.

  6. Where are the cynical commenters who said other drivers and teams were calling foul just because they didn’t gain from it?

  7. My goodness – I never thought I would agree with Christian Horner about anything.

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