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