Heavy rain meant conditions were far from ideal at Spa-Francorchamps; Canadian Latifi, 9th, Russell, 2nd, score points for Williams again
By Yuri Coghe
Max Verstappen won the Belgium GP on Sunday but fans are going to have to wait one more week to watch actual race action.
F1 returned four weeks after the Hungarian GP but the heavy rain surrounding the Spa-Francorchamps race track meant conditions were far from ideal. The session was delayed multiple times and for more than three hours in total just for drivers to eventually complete three laps under the safety car until the race was finally called off.
The required minimum of two laps was met, therefore, to award drivers half the points for the sixth time in F1 history – since less than 75% of the Grand Prix was completed. It was the shortest Grand Prix ever.
George Russell finished second to get his first F1 podium and give Williams their first top-3 result since Canadian Lance Stroll finished third at the 2017 Azerbaijan GP. Stroll’s fellow countryman Nicholas Latifi finished ninth to score back-to-back points and add two more to his and Williams’ name.
“It’s a win but not how you want to win,” Verstappen said after the race. “I think the credit goes to the fans who stayed here in these rainy conditions.”
Verstappen’s 15th career win actually was earned on Saturday’s qualifying session, when he outpaced Russell late to claim pole position.
“First I want to say sorry to the fans about the rain and say thank you for staying out with us today,” said Russell. “The whole team deserves it. We haven’t always been rewarded for our hard work, but here we are on the podium.”
Lewis Hamilton, third, saw his drivers’ championship lead cut from eight to three points with 10 races to go. If the whole race – or more than 75% of it – had been completed, Verstappen would have regained the lead since he would have claimed 25, not 12.5 points, and Hamilton 15, not 7.5.
“The fans have been incredible to stick with us,” said Hamilton, who also asked for the attendants to be reimbursed and criticized the steward’s decision to try to hold the event under the dangerous wet conditions found at Spa. “You couldn’t really see five metres in front of you. It’s a shame because I wanted to race.”
“Following the significant weather disruption to the 2021 FIA Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, the FIA and Formula 1 are disappointed for all the fans at the track and at home that today’s race could not go to full but the safety of the drivers, marshals and spectators must always be the priority,” read an F1 statement.
“The Decision of the Stewards to extend the window in which the race could take place gave every possible opportunity to maximize the day’s running, but the weather conditions, unfortunately, did not improve sufficiently to complete more laps.”
Daniel Ricciardo was fourth, claiming his best race-finish as a McLaren driver. His teammate Lando Norris would have started the race in ninth place but was awarded a five-place grid penalty for having to change his gearbox following his Saturday crash at Eau Rouge – missing out on points for the second race in a row after being in the top-10 for the first ten races of the season.
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Bottas tops FP1 in damp conditions at Spa, Verstappen steals lead, causes red flag in FP2
2021 Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championship Standings
Latifi qualified in P12 but benefited from Bottas’ five-place grid penalty for causing the opening lap crash in Hungary to start in eleventh. The Canadian then “overtook” Norris and Red Bull’s Sergio Perez to finish ninth.
Perez crashes before race “start”
Perez crashed on his way to the start when the race was initially set to take place at 3 P.M. local time. It was initially reported that we wouldn’t participate in the session due to the damage sustained to his car.
Red Bull was able to use extra time granted by the multiple delays to fix his equipment, but the Mexican had to start from the back as two installation laps had been completed. With no actual racing, Perez, 20th, was unable to fight his way back into the points.
Both Ferraris, who were eliminated in the Q2 on Saturday, also rose to the top-10 due to the faith of Perez and Norris. Charles Leclerc finished in eighth place while Carlos Sainz Jr was tenth.
Sebastian Vettel finished fifth to claim his third top-5 finish for Canadian-owned Aston Martin. Teammate Stroll, also hit by a 5-place grid penalty for the opening lap scrap at Hungary, came in 19th.
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Frenchmen Pierre Gasly and Esteban Ocon finished sixth and seventh, respectively.
Out the points
Fernando Alonso, Bottas, Antonio Giovinazzi, Yuki Tsunoda and Mick Schumacher finished from eleventh to 16th, in that order.
Nikita Mazepin, who had a meaningless fastest lap, was 17th, ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, 18th.
The first Dutch GP since 1985 is set for next weekend.
See the Belgium Grand Prix top-10 below