The return of Formula 1 after the summer break left one of the most surreal races in history. In addition to being the shortest ever contested (there were only three laps and they went after the safety car), it was played three hours after the scheduled time and with a duration of only 3 laps and, therefore, with half the points to distribute.
Belgian GP grid in the rain
The qualifying incidents, with George Russell giving the bell with a second position that he confirmed in the race ( and that may be his ticket for Mercedes in 2022 ) and a strong accident by Lando Norris on the rise of Eau Rouge, was the preliminary of what was going to be seen on Sunday.
The Spanish, without evaluating: Carlos Sainz was 10th (sum half a point) Fernando Alonso was 11th. The winner of the race was poleman Max Verstappen , followed by Russell’s historic podium (first for Williams since 2017) and Lewis Hamilton third.
The rain forces to suspend
But the rain turned into an unattainable monsoon in terms of safety. The Spa circuit was flooded, and even caused ‘Checo’ Pérez to have an accident on the grid formation lap at Les Combes.
With the track completely flooded and the rain coming down hard , race director Michael Masi decided to delay the start of five by five minutes. Half an hour later than originally planned, and with the safety car ahead, there were two training laps … But it was not enough.
All the pilots complained about the lack of visibility and that there was noticeable aquaplanning . Only Max Verstappen , the man on pole, claimed he was ready to start the race, but it didn’t seem feasible.
All the cars returned to the pits with the exit procedure aborted , while the crowded stands held out under the umbrellas. Meanwhile, at Red Bull they discussed with Masi whether Pérez could start or not, since this waiting time was used by the Austrian team to repair the Mexican’s car.
It was not a small or easy matter: was this repair considered outside help if the race, as such, had not started? Michael Masi was clear: the Mexican could not start … although seeing that the delay was long, he ended up agreeing to Perez to start from the pitlane.
The limit of 3 hours and the possibility of running on Monday
Another problem, this one affecting the entire grid (including televisions, mechanics and technicians), was what to do with the race itself. Canceling the test this Sunday and postponing it to Monday began to be considered a serious possibility, although the tightness of the calendar made it very difficult.
Verstappen, after the safety car at the Belgian GP
The Belgian event is the first of a triplet that continues the following weekend with the Dutch GP in Zandvoort. The proximity of this race forces to start taking material this Monday to the Dutch country, but if the appointment of this Sunday was moved to dispute it the next day there was no material time, so that possibility was discarded.
The training laps given made the race clock start running from 3:00 p.m. (the original start time) so the objective was clear: try to go out for at least two laps and consider the race to be divided. , to the bad, half of the points. The deadline to terminate the test: 18: 00h . The regulations are clear: from the start there are 3 hours for the race to be completed.
While waiting for it to clear, fans in the stands waited stoically in the rain.
The clock stops
Two hours after the start time, Bernd Maylander , the safety car driver, decided to go out again to check on the track.
Meanwhile, from the race direction they decided to remove the self-limitation of three hours . Wielding the “causes of force majeure” stated in article 11.9.3 of the FIA Sporting Regulations, they decided to stop the clock that had started at 3:00 p.m. at 5:00 p.m., with the aim of continuing to wait for the clock to clear. rain.
Three hours later, there are three laps of the race and the end is given
After the second exit of the medical car to the track to check the situation of the track, the FIA confirmed that there would be a race: the start was taken from the pitlane at 6:17 p.m. and behind the safety car.
With an hour at the most or 39 laps, the caution was visible from the first moment and without changes in position, since everyone was at the pace that Bernd Maylander imposed … until it was canceled again. Only three laps had been made .
With this result, however, the GP could be considered contested, even if it was in such a surreal way and distributing half the points and so they decided.
In a race in which the leader of all laps was the driver of the safety car, the winner was Max Verstappen , followed by George Russell (who added his first podium in Formula 1 and first for Williams since 2017) and Lewis Hamilton . But if this race goes down in history, it won’t be, far from it, because of this result, but because of the very poor image that the competition left behind.