Grand Prix of Belgium – Race

Yesterday’s wet and eventful Qualifying session saw NOR crash in Eau Rouge. He’s had an X-ray on his elbow and been given the OK to race; however, his car needed a new gearbox so he’s been given a 5-place grid penalty. [FIA]

Provisional grid: VER, RUS, HAM, RIC, VET, GAS, PER, BOT*, OCO, NOR**, LEC, LAT, SAI, ALO, STR*, GIO, TSU, SCH, RAI, MAZ
*BOT and STR will each drop 5 grid places due to penalty from the previous race
**NOR 5-place penalty for gearbox change

FIA report RAI “will start the Belgian Grand Prix from the pit lane after his team changed parts under Parc Ferme conditions.”

So the grid will be: VER, RUS, HAM, RIC, VET, GAS, PER, OCO, LEC, LAT, SAI, ALO, BOT, GIO, NOR, TSU, SCH, MAZ, STR; RAI in the pit lane

Pit lane is open; cars can head to the grid
Air temperature 12°C; track 14°C
PER is in the tyre wall in Turn 6!
Radio for PER, “Checo that’s us done. Kill the engine.”
Red Bull confirm to Race Director Michael Masi that PER won’t be able to take part in the race, “Right front suspension damage. The damage is too extreme for us to continue.”
Radio from RUS, “Visibility very poor. Even when I was about six seconds behind the car in front, I couldn’t see down the straight.”

15mins until the start of the race; grid ceremonies include #WeRaceAsOne and the national anthem, but no chance of a fly-over
Confirmation that the race will start behind the Safety Car. which means they’ll all have to be on full wet tyres

2mins before the scheduled start; “Delayed start”
Start will be at 1510 local time
Update: formation lap will start at 1515
Update: formation lap will start at 1520
Remember it’s not just about track conditions; the medical helicopter must be able to take off from the circuit and land at the local hospital
RIC keeps his team entertained; “I don’t know if you’ve heard but it’s my 200th Grand Prix – kind of a big deal in this neck of the woods” 🙂
Update: formation lap will start at 1525
Red Bull seem to be working on PER’s car, but they’ve officially retired from the race so will they be allowed to start if they can fix it in time?
It’s passed 1520 local time and they haven’t announced another delay, so will it start soon?

Grid clears
Bernd Maylander in the Safety Car sits at the front of the grid

01/44[SC]: SC leads 18 cars away on the formation lap; RAI will start from the pit lane; PER will not start
Radio from HAM, “I already can’t see anything guys”
Radio from VER, “I have to leave a little bit more space from the Safety Car than normal as I can’t see anything!”
Many drivers reporting issues with visibility and aquaplaning

02[SC]: VER thinks it’s ok to start (“For me, it’s fine to race”) but the other drivers don’t agree
Red flag; start procedure suspended
Hmmm, I thought the laps behind the SC counted but Race Control says it’s not started!?
SC leads everyone into the pit lane
Radio from RIC, “This is the right call”
Radio from HAM, “There is water leaking into the top of my helmet”!
ALO interrupts a Sky interview with Alpine F1 Team and can be heard saying to his race engineer “There’s no way; we can’t race.”
Red Bull pushing their luck, asking Michael Masi if PER can join the race, because “technically” the race hasn’t started yet

What if the race is stopped?
“Only five times in F1 history have half-points been awarded due to rain, the most recent being Malaysia 2009… So up until Lap 33 would be half-points here, and from that point onwards would be full points.”
“The 1991 Australian Grand Prix and the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix were past races that were abandoned because of torrential rain. In both circumstances, enough laps had been completed for half points to be awarded to the drivers – something unlikely to happen today if an abandonment occurs, as the race hasn’t even started.”

The medical car is doing a few laps to check conditions
Sky interview RUS, “Definitely the right decision, but right now there wouldn’t be a classification which would be frustrating for ourselves.” (because he would be P2 if it’s stopped after one more lap)
Mercedes ask Michael Masi if/when the clock started; they’re told the race clock started at 1500 (the scheduled race start time) so the race will be time-limited
So I guess that means running tomorrow isn’t an option?

Michael Masi confirms to Red Bull that PER can start from the pit lane!
But the lap behind the SC counted, so surely PER is already a lap down? … And wouldn’t that be the same for RAI? (I tweeted SkySports to ask)

McLaren ask Michael Masi how many laps remain; the laps behind the SC and aborted starts count, so there’s 39 laps remaining
So is PER actually 5 laps down??

Halfway through the 3-hour time limit for completing the race

Red Bull remove the screens from PER’s side of the garage – looks like he’s ready in case there is a restart
There’s so much confusion on the pit lane – different opinions on whether the race has started, how many laps remain, whether PER can rejoin…

Now Michael Masi tells Red Bull the race will start when they leave the pit lane, then do 2 laps for half points

“The race clock has stopped at the one hour to go mark, which is essentially buying the Race Directors some time to get this one underway. As per the regulations: In accordance with the powers vested in them under the FIA International Sporting Code, the Stewards have decided, in accordance with their authority under Article 11.9.3.o, to stop temporarily the 2021 Belgium Grand Prix at 17:00 hours. This decision is taken on the grounds of Force Majeure.”

Medical Car is back on track examining the situation – still looks bad
Oh, the official FIA timing chart just jumped from 43 laps remaining to say 39 remaining, and the clock shows one hour

Mercedes sporting director Ron Meadows tells Michael Masi “I’m freezing – I need to go and warm-up.” Masi agrees they can stand down for 10 minutes.

“A weather update will be provided at 17:45”
There are sweepers on-track, trying to move some of the standing water
Medical car driver Alan van der Merwe has just been for a lap around Spa: “The track is OK on your own, there is not a lot of standing water,” he says. “But the minute you are behind somebody, you can’t see anything – literally everything is grey.”

“Next weather update will be provided at 17:55”
“Next weather update will be provided at 18:00”

Berndt Maylander putting his helmet on – are we going to see a couple of laps?
RACE WILL RESUME AT 18:17
The pit lane springs into action and engines are being fired up

Apparently STR has a new, different spec rear wing – that seems a bit dodgy

FIA timing screen says: laps 1/39 1:00:00 Air 13°C Track 15°C

Radio from HAM pointing out it doesn’t seem to be any better than when it was red-flagged 3hrs ago

01/39[SC]: SC leads everyone away from the pit lane
FIA timing screen shows PER in P20
It won’t be a standing start, so RAI and PER don’t need to start from the pit lane
Drivers are reporting aquaplaning in Turn 5
Conditions seem to be worse than they were 3 hours ago
Orange flares in the stands probably mean some soaked fans can’t see the action
The spray coming off the SC shows it’s still really wet

02[SC]: VER, RUS, HAM, RIC, VET, GAS, OCO, LEC, LAT, SAI, ALO, BOT, GIO, NOR, TSU, SCH, MAZ, STR, RAI, PER
Even VER says the conditions are worse
So when will the red flag come out?

03[SC]: Timings show MAZ has fastest lap, 3:18.016, but he’s P17 so no point for him
Red flag – race stopped (as expected)
SC leads everyone back to the pit lane

Drivers getting out of their cars – presumably Race Control will soon announce it’s cancelled

Thanks Motorsport Stats:

SHORTEST RACE IN #F1?
Currently: 1991 Australian Grand Prix – 52.920KM.
Soon to be?: 2021 Belgian Grand Prix – 14.008KM.

And with that, Race Control confirm “Race will not resume”.

Provisional result: VER, RUS, HAM, RIC, VET, GAS, OCO, LEC, LAT, SAI; ALO, BOT, GIO, NOR, TSU, SCH, MAZ*, STR, RAI, PER
*MAZ recorded the fastest lap but doesn’t get the point as he’s outside the top 10

It’s only half points, so here’s what they’ll score (once the result is confirmed):

  1. VER = 12½ points
  2. RUS = 9
  3. HAM = 7½
  4. RIC = 6
  5. VET = 5
  6. GAS = 4
  7. OCO = 3
  8. LEC = 2
  9. LAT = 1
  10. SAI = ½

In case you wonder if half points matter, Niki Lauda beat Alain Prost to the 1984 World Championship title by half a point!

Interviews:
VER: “It’s a big shame to not do proper laps, but the conditions were very tricky out there, the visibility was low. It kept raining, of course it’s a win but it’s not how you want to win.”
NOR interrupts VER to congratulate him – “Great race, I was catching you!”
RUS: “We don’t often get a reward for a good qualifying but today we absolutely did. From our side and the team’s side, it’s a great result. The whole team deserve it, there’s so much hard work going in and there’s not been anything to show for it. I didn’t expect that this year, that’s for sure.”
HAM: “I feel so sorry for the fans today, obviously it’s no one’s fault but the fans have been great today. They knew it wasn’t any better, they sent us out to get the two laps in.”
Christian Horner: “The fans here today, seven, eight hours they’ve been out there. Everyone tried to put a race on. Max felt the conditions, the visibility was fine but obviously for anybody behind him, they just couldn’t see.”
PER: “Well I did a mistake, conditions were very hard. The went onto the kerb, locked it and did a mistake that was very costly. We were ready to go, we were hungry to race but in the end it couldn’t happen. ”
Michael Masi: “The conditions have not been great all weekend but we’ve had patches where we could get some stuff done. We wanted to see what the conditions were like [at the end], there was a window but then the weather came in and got the better of us again. There’s no ability to postpone the race until tomorrow, and safety is paramount for drivers, teams and the spectators.”

I think HAM might be admonished for repeatedly saying the fans should get their money back, and “Money talks, and the two laps was a money scenario”.

Well, it’s only a few days until the GP of Netherlands – another home race for VER; hopefully the weather will be better.

[2021 calendar] [2021 line-up] [Points standings]

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3 thoughts on “Grand Prix of Belgium – Race”

  1. A literal footnote on the official results page:
    “Stroll received a 10-second time penalty as his car was modified during a temporary race stoppage.”

    but he was already well outside the points, so it doesn’t really make any difference.

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