BELGIAN GP – Max Verstappen declared winner as rain sees race red-flagged due to heavy rain

Testing & Race Reports

Max Verstappen will be credited with the victory in the Belgian Grand Prix after just three laps were completed behind the safety car. The conditions at Spa-Francorchamps were awful with severe and persistent wet weather, the race started behind the safety car and turned into a procession for three laps.

The first attempted restart was after a twenty-five-minute delay with two formation laps but 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.  The rain eased up at 18:00 local time allowing for three laps to be completed behind the safety car.

Verstappen took the win ahead of George Russell, who scored his first podium thanks to the incredible qualifying effort yesterday. While Lewis Hamilton was third, with his lead narrowed to just three points between Verstappen and Hamilton going to Zandvoort next weekend.

Russell took Williams first podium since 2016, but his qualifying lap will go down in history as the greatest lap in history. He told reporters, “We don’t often get rewarded for great qualifying’s, but we absolutely did today. It was a shame we did not get the race underway but from my side and the team’s side it’s an amazing result.”

Verstappen said, “It’s a win but not how you want to win. Today a big credit goes to all the fans around the track for staying here the whole day in the rain, the cold, windy conditions. They are actually the bigger winners today.”

Russell added, “We don’t often get rewarded for great qualifyings, but we absolutely did today. It was a shame we did not get the race under way but, from my side, and the team’s side it’s an amazing result.”

The race sets new record for the shortest race in F1 history, which had been the 1991Australian Grand Prix and the first race to be run to under half distance since Sepang in 2009. 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.

Another complication was the fact the official three-hour ‘race clock’ started at 2pm, meaning the race effectively had to finish by 18:00 local. With an hour remaining in that window, F1 stewards stopped that clock to give them a chance of finding a window to fit a one-hour race in.

An attempted restart was made at 17:17, but by then track conditions, and visibility, appeared even worse, with even Verstappen admitting it was too wet.

Confusion followed a few hours later, when the race classification was issued as three laps needed to be completed for half points however the regulations require three full laps to be completed and countback a lap to get a result.

Daniel Ricciardo was classified in fourth place ahead of Sebastian Vettel and Pierre Gasly, while Hungarian Grand Prix winner Esteban Ocon crossed the line in seventh place 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. While Leclerc teammate Carlos Sainz was classified tenth.

The only real drama came on the way to the grid when Red Bull’s Sergio Perez crashing his car on his way to the grid, however, the team managed to repair the damage allowing him to ‘start’ the race. That prompted Sainz to tenth.

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Jack

Jack is responsible for the day-to-day running of Formula One Vault. He brings you all the brilliant content. Has an obsession with all things Formula One and anything with an engine.