As soon as Max Verstappen took the podium to celebrate his Belgian GP victory, with George Russell in second, taking his first podium of his career, and Lewis Hamilton in third, race director Michael Masi and F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali, were explaining to the press why the category considered valid a race with only three laps behind the Safety Car.
“Commercial interests did not influence the decisions of the race direction,” said Domenicali, while Masi said that “we try to open up all the opportunities that are in the rules to try to have a race.”
The big question is not whether there should have been a race, as the weather conditions were bad. But, yes, if it wouldn’t have been better to cancel the event altogether. The solution found allowed the commercial contracts to be fulfilled, and the entire delay of almost four hours for this entire process also ensured the exposure of the brands linked to the category.
The general consensus, from the moment it started to rain consistently from about half an hour before the start time (something that only stopped around 9 pm local time) was that it would be impractical to have a green flag. Formula 1 cars are very big and wide these days, in addition to being low (increasing the risk of aquaplaning) and having wider rear tires. This makes spraying and the resulting lack of visibility a much bigger problem than in the past.
And, as it has rained a lot in Spa since Thursday, all the soil in the exhaust areas was soaked, making it difficult for the water to drain. In other words, although Masi says that the attempt at the second start, after 6pm local time, was genuine, it’s hard to believe that it wasn’t just a way of complying with the regulations to consider the race valid.
“There was a window of opportunity where we felt we could fit in some racing laps. We had already seen on Saturday how the weather changes very quickly in this place. , unfortunately, we couldn’t do that.”
GP showed holes in regulation
It was a very busy afternoon for Masi, who ended up encountering some situations not foreseen in the regulations. There is, for example, no procedure provided if it is not possible to take the test on Sunday. “We’ve learned a few things about what can be improved in the regulations today and we’ll see what we can do better in the future, working with all ten teams.”
One of the cases was that of Sergio Perez, in which Masi’s understanding was that, because his car had been towed into the pits after its crash even before the Mexican was on the grid, he was out of the race. Although it’s not something that’s actually written into the rules. “It’s very rare that this can happen, so it was one of the cases.”
The Formula 1 ‘circus’ is already on its way to the Netherlands, where the category makes the 13th race of the championship this weekend. With this Sunday’s result, Verstappen, who runs at home, is now three points behind Hamilton in the championship dispute.