Thus: 08/29/2021 at 6:59 pm.
Spa 2021 is recorded in the Formula 1 history books. One has to wait for hours for the race to start due to incessant rain. Ultimately, Max Verstappen won a slimmed-down version of the Grand Prix.
Image: Francisco Seco / AP / DPA
Heavy rain fell non-stop, but Formula 1 wanted to see its late race in full force – and Max Verstappen’s victory at Spa’s spray became a spectacle. Slow behind the safety car, the Dutchman at Red Bull won the first Grand Prix after the summer break after only three laps. More than three and a half hours after the race’s originally scheduled start, Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton was classified third and defended the championship lead.
Vettel in fifth place in the spray
At the Ardennes Shower, George Russell gave the Williams team an almost forgotten sense of accomplishment after a sensational second place in qualifying. Since only a minimum number of laps could be completed behind the safety car, only half the points were awarded. Thus, Hamilton (202.5 points) tops the world championship rankings ahead of Verstappen (199.5) a wafer. Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel clinched the finish line in fifth place in the Belgian spray, with Mick Schumacher finishing 16th at Haas.
There was a comparable mini version of the Grand Prix in Adelaide in 1991, when it was finished after 14 laps, that too due to rain. In a Belgian standstill, Formula 1 crews pass the wait time with social media activities, card games or light fitness and coordination exercises.
finished after nine minutes
There was cheer among 75,000 determined fans when the race was finally about to start at 6:17 am. Only nine minutes later, however, the red flags were waved again. Verstappen & Company no longer ran on asphalt. The Dutchman celebrates his 16th Grand Prix success.
The weather caused great confusion. Not just on race day. In qualifying, McLaren driver Lando Norris crashed into the barriers after the legendary Eau Rouge corner. The British car was badly damaged, and the 21-year-old only suffered an injury to his elbow. After a gear change and a penalty transfer, Norris wanted to start the race in 14th place.
Vettel achieved his best starting position of the season with fifth place. After being denied second place before the summer break in Hungary due to insufficient fuel in the tank, Hessian was determined to improve his points account.
red flags dominate the race
The rain continued to fall and it got deeper and deeper. Canada is rated as the longest race in Formula 1 history. 4:04:39.537 hours is on the official results list of Motorsport Premier Class. The race took place on June 12, 2011 in Montreal, Canada, when rain interrupted the race for more than two hours.
Even before the race’s planned start at Spa at 3 pm, it hit Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez. The Mexican collapsed his Red Bull’s front suspension in an impact. Since the start was so severely delayed, he was able to start from the pit lane after repairs.
“I can’t really see anything,” Hamilton said after a 25-minute wait as the drivers behind the safety car went on the formation lap. At 3:31 pm, however, red flags were shown and the cars returned to the potholes due to dangerous track conditions. Now it was time to wait again.
Postponing on Monday is not an option
Postponing it until Monday – as has already happened in Formula 1 history – was out of the question, as the next Grand Prix is scheduled for next Sunday in Zandvoort, Netherlands, and the team has to go ahead.
Now the question was: can the Grand Prix meet its three-hour time limit, within which the event has to be at least partially evaluated? The clock was ticking. Haas driver Schumacher, whose father Michael made his Formula 1 debut in Belgium 30 years ago, said “at the moment it is looking really bad, because it is raining a lot.”
Temporarily suspended for a period of three hours
Race stewards eventually suspended the three-hour period due to a force majeure incident to allow space for the maneuvers and at least 60 minutes to drive. A perfect score was no longer an option for the drivers. Half points are awarded if the leader completes more than two laps but less than 75 percent of the race distance. The Spa regularly has 44 rounds of 7.004 kms.
“The track isn’t really that bad, but when you drive behind someone you can’t see anything”, said ambulance driver Alan van der Merwe, describing the crux of the matter. Then the sweepers came to remove the standing water on the asphalt. And it really started! But it ended quickly again – with the best result for Verstappen.