Verstappen declared the winner after two laps behind the safety car

This will go down in Formula 1’s history as the shortest race with just two laps behind the safety car with Max Verstappen declared the winner of the Belgian Gand Prix in a heavily-rain affected race at Spa-Francorchamps.

Following a rain-affected qualifying on Saturday, showers continued to hit the Spa region throughout Sunday in the build-up to the start.

Race control announced shortly before the planned race start at 1500 local time that formation laps would be completed behind the safety car, and pushed the start of this out to 1525.

The field completed two full formation laps, but with most of the drivers reporting poor visibility and a lack of grip, the race was red- flagged at 1530 and all drivers returned to the pit lane.

A lengthy delay followed, but with the rain showing no sign of abating and the timer ticking down from the start of the three-hour window at 1500, the chances of running a race to award full points grew slim.

With one hour remaining on the clock at 1700, the race stewards temporarily stopped the race, freezing the clock to try and wait for a break in the weather.

The rain eased slightly so the field could return to the track behind the safety car at 1817, passing the green light at pit exit, and completed two full laps to ensure the race was official and a classification could be issued.

During the third lap behind the safety car, race control red-flagged the race again, prompting the drivers to return to the pitlane, before it was officially declared as the final result at 1844.

It means Verstappen officially wins the Belgian Grand Prix for Red Bull Racing, scoring 12.5 points for the victory, while George Russell scored his first Formula 1 podium in second position for Williams, scoring nine points.

Verstappen’s title rival, Lewis Hamilton, completed the podium in third place, picking up 7.5 points.

It is the first Formula 1 race to run to half points since the 2009 Malaysian Grand Prix, and the shortest race in the history of the sport to have an official classification. The previous low was 14 laps completed at the 1991 Australian Grand Prix.

The result means that Hamilton’s lead at the top of the drivers’ championship has been cut to just three points ahead of next weekend’s Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.

Daniel Ricciardo was classified in fourth position ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly, while Hungarian Grand Prix winner Esteban Ocon crossed the line in seventh for Alpine.

Charles Leclerc is recorded as finishing eighth for Ferrari, two places clear of teammate Carlos Sainz, while Nicholas Latifi took ninth, giving Williams back-to-back double-points finishes.

Despite the two laps being completed behind the safety car, Nikita Mazepin is officially awarded the fastest lap of the race – three minutes, 18.016 seconds – but does not receive any bonus point as he finished outside of the top ten.

So a complete farce from race control to find a break in the wet weather. After waiting for over three hours, the ‘race’ was behind the safety car and in the end, it was dangerous and only half points were awarded.

Belgian Grand Prix, race results:
1 Max Verstappen Red Bull-Honda 3:27.071
2 George Russell Williams-Mercedes 2.198
3 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 3.518
4 Daniel Ricciardo McLaren-Mercedes 5.951
5 Sebastian Vettel Aston Martin-Mercedes 7.894
6 Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri-Honda 10.275
7 Esteban Ocon Alpine-Renault 11.791
8 Charles Leclerc Ferrari 13.217
9 Nicholas Latifi Williams-Mercedes 15.634
10 Carlos Sainz Jr. Ferrari 16.961
11 Fernando Alonso Alpine-Renault 20.259
12 Valtteri Bottas Mercedes 21.946
13 Antonio Giovinazzi Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 23.530
14 Lando Norris McLaren-Mercedes 26.085
15 Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri-Honda 28.781
16 Mick Schumacher Haas-Ferrari 30.900
17 Nikita Mazepin Haas-Ferrari 32.687
18 Lance Stroll Aston Martin-Mercedes 34.838
19 Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo-Ferrari 36.322
20 Sergio Perez Red Bull-Honda 38.690

5 thoughts to “Verstappen declared the winner after two laps behind the safety car”

  1. Belgian Grand Prix race review as reported by

    Max Verstappen won a heavily rain-shortened Belgian Grand Prix that finished late into the evening amid torrential conditions at Spa-Francorchamps. Half points were awarded as more than two laps – but less than 75% of the race – were completed.

    The 1500 scheduled start time came 30 minutes after Sergio Perez crashed on the way to his grid spot in the wet weather, with the rain showing no signs of relenting. After a 25 minute delay, a brace of formation laps behind the Safety Car followed, before Race Director Michael Masi threw the red flag.

    After many more delays, the race finally resumed at 1817 local time – more than three hours after it was set to start – with the clock to tick down from one hour as Masi did everything in his control to try to get a race up and running.

    But only a handful laps behind the Safety Car followed before another red flag, and Verstappen pulled back into the pits ahead of second-place Williams qualifier George Russell and third-place Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

    Most of the field would thus finish where they had qualified, with half points their consolation on a gloomy day at Spa, as it was finally announced the race would not resume, at 1845 local time.

    With clouds hanging thick and heavy, visibility was at a premium on Sunday afternoon with cars fading into and out of view on their laps to the grid as the rain pelted down at Spa-Francorchamps.

    Then calamity struck for Red Bull, Perez losing the car and burying his RB16B in the barriers at Les Combes. He was out 30 minutes before the race was due to begin thanks to heavy right-front suspension damage.

    What followed was a 10-minute delay, and a further 15 minute delay with the Safety Car finally leading the cars out at 1525 local time for a couple of formation laps.

    But it would be a quick retreat for the field, most of the drivers – bar pole-sitter Verstappen – deeming conditions far too hazardous for a race. The red flag and suspension of the start procedure had drivers returning to the pit lane under the safety of the teams’ marquees.

    During that break, the clock ticking perilously towards the regulation three-hour race deadline, Red Bull pulled off a gargantuan effort to repair Perez’s car and they were told by Race Director Michael Masi that he would be allowed to start the race from the pit lane behind Kimi Raikkonen – whose rear wing assembly was changed in Parc Ferme.

    Two hours after the race was scheduled to start, Race Director Michael Masi stopped the race clock to try to allow more time for some action to take place. At 1817 local time, the race finally resumed even with conditions still soaking wet.

    Verstappen led the field behind the Safety Car, surprise second-place Williams qualifier Russell following gingerly and third-place Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton in third, engulfed by spray from the cars ahead. With three laps on the board, the race was red-flagged and the Race Director decided that it would not resume.

    Daniel Ricciardo of McLaren, Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly finished fourth, fifth and sixth respectively while seventh-place qualifier Perez missed out on points due to his crash at the start. Instead it was Esteban Ocon who finished seventh, adding to his healthy Hungarian GP-winning haul.

    Perez’s pain also was the gain of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc in P8, Nicholas Latifi in P9 for Williams and Leclerc’s team mate Carlos Sainz who was promoted to P10 – all of them being awarded half points since the race was well short of the 75% distance needed for full points.

    Lando Norris may have been frontrunner for pole position after topping Q1 and Q2 on Saturday, but his Q3 crash led to a five-place grid penalty on Sunday morning. He was therefore classified 14th. Haas’s Nikita Mazepin set the fastest lap of the race behind the Safety Car but does not take a point as he finished out of the top 10, in 17th.

    On a gloomy day at Spa-Francorchamps, Verstappen therefore took half-points for a victory in the strangest circumstances ahead of Russell – who took a maiden podium – and championship rival Hamilton of Mercedes in P3.

  2. Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen admits “not how you want to win” Belgian Grand Prix after so much rain and not enough track running. has the details.

    Max Verstappen acknowledged it was “not how you want to win” after an unusual Belgian Grand Prix victory, closing the gap at the top of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship.

    Verstappen was declared the winner of Sunday’s race at Spa after just two laps could be completed behind the safety car due to heavy rain throughout the afternoon.

    Officials managed to get the laps completed to ensure that the race could be declared official and a classification could be issued, awarding half points by surpassing the two-lap threshold. It is the shortest race in F1 history to have a result declared.

    Verstappen led the field around for the two official laps behind the safety car after taking pole position on Saturday, and took to the podium along with George Russell and Lewis Hamilton in second and third place respectively.

    Verstappen was the only driver heard on team radio calling for the race to begin after they completed their initial formation laps behind the safety car at 15:25, before growing rain intensity led to a red flag that lasted almost three hours.

    “It’s a big shame to not do proper laps, but the conditions were very tricky out there,” Verstappen said.

    “I said at 3:30pm, like, let’s go. I think the conditions were decent, but the visibility was very low. So I think if we would have started at three o’clock, we had a better chance.

    “But nevertheless, after that it just stayed really wet and kept raining. It’s a win, but not how you want to win.

    “I think for today, you know, big credit goes to all the fans around the track to stay here, you know the whole day in the rain and the cold, windy conditions, I think they are the bigger winners today.”

    The result marked Verstappen’s sixth victory of the 2021 season, and saw him cut F1 title rival Hamilton’s lead down to three points at the top of the drivers’ standings, picking up 12.5 points for the win.

    Verstappen will head to his home grand prix at Zandvoort next week looking to reclaim the lead of the championship.

    “We have to keep on pushing, keep on trying, of course, to close it and of course, go ahead,” Verstappen said.

    “We have a few more races to do that. And I’m confident that we have a good car, we just need to keep on trying to get a bit more performance out of it.”

  3. Williams driver George Russell said it “doesn’t matter” how maiden Formula 1 podium arrived. has the news story.

    George Russell says how he scored his maiden Formula 1 podium ‘doesn’t matter’, after he was classified second in the weather-hit Belgian Grand Prix.

    The Briton had qualified a brilliant second for the race at Spa-Francorchamps and, with only two laps being conducted behind the safety car due to the rain, he kept that spot without any challenge.

    Although the best result of his F1 career came without any laps of racing, Russell said that it was still a more than worthy achievement considering what he and Williams achieved earlier in the weekend.

    “It doesn’t matter,” he said after the race when asked about the way he grabbed second spot. “I mean we don’t often get rewarded for great qualifyings and we absolutely did today.

    “But first I just want to say, so sorry to all the fans and it was amazing their support to stay out here throughout. We were all in the same boat.

    “It was a shame we couldn’t get this race underway, but from our side and the team side it is such an amazing result.”

    Russell has earned a nickname in F1 as ‘Mr. Saturday’ for the way he has delivered a number of sensational qualifying performances for Williams – only to endure disappointment in races.

    But he says it felt great to finally be rewarded for his shock performance in wet qualifying on Saturday as he nearly grabbed a maiden pole position.

    “The whole team deserve it because there has been so much hard work going into this over the last few years, and there’s not really been anything to show for it, or proof for it,” he said.

    “We absolutely nailed it yesterday and here we are standing on the podium. I can tell you I didn’t expect that this year, that’s for sure.”

    Although only half points have been awarded, the nine-points Russell earned is the biggest haul of his F1 career, and comes after he finished eighth last time out in Hungary.

    With teammate Nicholas Latifi also adding a point for ninth place, it means Williams has doubled its points tally this race and now has 20 points – well ahead of Alfa Romeo behind it on three.

  4. Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton commented that Formula 1 “made a bad choice” at Spa, but “money talks”. has the full details.

    Lewis Hamilton believes Formula 1 “made a bad choice” running only two laps behind the safety car to secure a Belgian Grand Prix result, but that “money talks”.

    Heavy rain delayed the start of Sunday’s race at Spa and a wait of almost three hours under a red flag before the safety car was able to lead the field out of the pit lane after 6pm.

    The field completed two laps behind the safety car, making the grand prix official and ensuring that a result could be declared, before the red flag returned and officials announced the race would not resume.

    Hamilton was classified third for Mercedes, meaning his lead at the top of the F1 championship over Max Verstappen drops to just three points after the Red Bull driver took a half-points victory.

    Hamilton wrote on social media during the red flag delay that it was “far too dangerous for us to go out” and that it would “put everyone at risk” running in the wet conditions.

    Speaking to Sky Sports in the TV pen after the race had been called, Hamilton said he felt “really disappointed” for the fans and that they were “robbed of a race, adding they deserved their money back.

    Asked how he felt about half-points being awarded for the two laps behind the safety car, Hamilton replied: “Money talks. And it was literally, the two laps to start the race, it’s all money scenario.

    “So everyone gets their money, and I think the fans should get theirs back too, because unfortunately, they didn’t get to see what they came and paid for.

    “It’s a shame we can’t do the race tomorrow. But yeah. And I love this track as well. I’m so sad that we couldn’t do this, but today wasn’t a race.”

    Hamilton said there would be “discussions” with those in charge of F1, and criticised the call to complete the two laps to ensure there was an official result.

    “I think the sport made a bad choice today,” Hamilton said.

    “Of course we wanted to race. There’s a minimum of two laps that you need to do to count as a race, and between that gap of stopping the first time to the second time, it had rained consistently.

    “There’s only one reason they sent us out. So that’s why I feel more bad for the fans.”

    Hamilton was heard on team radio during the opening formation laps behind the safety car before the first red flag reporting that visibility was poor and that he had little grip due to the wet conditions.

    “You couldn’t really see five metres in front of you, the car disappears,” Hamilton said.

    “So [it was] very difficult down the straights to even know where that flashing light was, and you couldn’t even go flat out down, because you didn’t know what part of the track that would be on.

    “So it’s a shame, because of course I wanted to race, and I think it could have been a great race if it hadn’t rained so hard.”

    The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix now stands as the shortest F1 race in history to have a formal result, beating the 14-lap 1991 Australian Grand Prix.

  5. Michael Masi says there was “no ability” to move the rain-hit Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix to Monday after rain only allowed for two laps behind the safety car.

    Heavy rain in the hours leading up to lights out at Spa resulted in the start being delayed by 25 minutes, after which a handful of formation laps were completed behind the safety car before the race was red-flagged.

    A wait of almost three hours followed, with little change in the levels of rain hitting the circuit, before a window emerged for the field to get out on track behind the safety car.

    Two laps were completed, meaning the race classification was official, before the race was red-flagged again and ultimately called off 20 minutes later.

    The classified result is taken after just one lap, making it the shortest race in F1 history with a final result, beating the 14-lap 1991 Australian Grand Prix. The two on-track laps mean that half points could be awarded to the top-10 finishers.

    Seven-time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton expressed sympathy for the fans who had waited in the rain only to not see a race, and said the series “made a bad choice” by running two laps behind the safety car.

    Other championships such as IndyCar and NASCAR have the ability to postpone a race until Monday in the event of rain washing out the event.

    But FIA race director Masi said that it was not an option F1 could consider at Spa for a “whole range” of reasons.

    “There is no ability to postpone the race until tomorrow,” Masi said.

    “So obviously from the FIA perspective, and jointly with F1, safety is paramount for drivers, the teams and all of the spectators.

    “We gave every available opportunity within the rulebook and the provisions of the International Sporting Code to give us the best opportunity for us to complete a race.

    “Unfortunately on this occasion we could not go the full distance that was available, but with the provisions to stop the clock, is what we tried to do to see if we could get ourselves in that weather window of some activity.”

    Carlos Sainz said that any decision to run the two laps behind the safety car simply to get a result would have been “absolute nonsense”, but Masi maintained it was to fully assess the conditions with the full field of cars.

    “No, it was to see what the conditions are like,” Masi said.

    “We are in constant contact with our official weather providers and there was a window that looked like it was provided there.

    “We’ve got the requirement to give a 10 minute warning to everyone so it was like, ‘OK, let’s try and see if we can find that window’.

    “A number of the teams said the same thing and they saw that window and could see exactly what we were trying to do to find that weather window and then the weather came in again and got the better of us.”


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