The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix will go down in history as one of the most embarrassing. After a long delay of more than three hours under thick rain, the race finally started behind the safety car, stopping only three laps later. Enough for proclaim Verstappen as the victor, guarantee the distribution of half of the points for the championship to the top 10 and even celebrate a unusual podium ceremony to the boos and displeasure of the fans, who had waited patiently under the umbrella.
Enough also so that the F1 fulfill its commercial agreement with the promoters of the Belgian GP and could collect the corresponding fee for the celebration of the race. Even if it was anything but a race. The formalism, in addition, prevents viewers from claiming a refund of the amount of their tickets. “Money has spoken today“, launched the seven-time champion Lewis Hamilton before Sky’s microphones as soon as he finished.
It was one of the most critical. But they all left angry. “I’d rather bite my tongue … distribute points for this …“, said Fernando Alonso. And reading Carlos Sainz: “About those who say from the sofa that 20 years ago they would have run, it seems silly to me. You couldn’t see anything and we’re going 300 km / h. It’s good that an unnecessary risk has not been assumed, but they can’t be shared out either. points without competing. ”
F1 fights back
“When I hear someone suggest that there was some commercial discussion behind what happened, it is totally false, because when we talk about careers, there is responsibility, it is a clear process, and those things are not connected at all “, defends the CEO of F1, Stefano Domenicali, who after many years at the helm of Ferrari, knows exactly how things look from both sides of the barrier. “Of course it’s a shame for people, because everyone wants to see a normal race. But I think the decisions made by race management were absolutely correct.”
“There was the desire and the will to do the race. And as soon as there was information, because the situation was being followed, a window of possible meteorological improvement arose to try to go out and try to do the race. Then, as soon as it resumed, the comments were quite clear, and on the other hand another weather forecast was received according to which it was not possible to continue. Despite the disappointment for everyone, I think that in terms of management it was the right thing to do, “insists the Italian.
Hamilton contradicts this version: “They knew when they sent us to the end that the track was not better, and they did it just so that we could start two laps behind the safety car, which is the minimum requirement for a race. I really hope that the fans get your money back. ” On Instagram he was even more forceful: “It was a sham and the only people who lost were the fans who paid good money to see us run. Sure you can’t do anything about the weather, but we have a very sophisticated team to tell us what’s going on and it was clear that the weather wasn’t going to improve, “he wrote.” We should only have decreed the cancellation, not risk the pilots, and so most importantly, reimbursing entry to our fans who are the heart of our sport, “said Lewis.
“The message to the fans is that unfortunately we do not control the weather. With two laps or without them, the expense was there,” says Domencali who is in negotiations to try to compensate the attending public. After the 2005 United States GP, when a protest against Michelin tires left only six cars in the race, spectators received a refund. “It is something that we can discuss with the organizer. We are not the ones who put the tickets. Something could be done, a good gesture. You pay the entrance, and unfortunately the race was like that. In the end, surely the organizer, together with We will consider the maximum attention to the fans, “he promises.
Domenicali also confirms that it would have been impossible to move the race to Monday: “Not for logistics, but for many reasons, the race cannot be scheduled the day after due to many aspects related to the availability of the stewards and the availability of other things. It was studied, of course, but it was not possible.”
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.