Lewis Hamilton: Belgian Grand Prix was ‘a farce’

Belgian GP
This year’s race at Spa will go down in history as the only F1 grand prix to involve no racing

Lewis Hamilton has criticised the aborted Belgian Grand Prix as “a farce” and accused Formula 1 of cynicism in the way it ran the rain-hit race.

Hamilton said drivers were sent out for two laps behind the safety car solely to secure an official result.

Writing on Instagram, he said: “We should have called it quits, not risked drivers and most importantly refunded fans who are the heart of our sport.”

He added: “There was no moment today when we would have been able to race.”

F1 rules dictate the field must complete two racing laps for points to be awarded.

Hamilton said on Sky: “Money talks. It was literally the two laps to start the race. The sport made a bad choice today.”

Hamilton agreed conditions made it impossible to hold the race because of poor visibility on the high-speed track, but he said there was no reason to send the cars out again because conditions had not improved.

George Russell on the podium at Spa
George Russell claimed his first podium thanks to his sensational lap during Saturday qualifying

The race was delayed by half an hour from its scheduled start time at 14:00 BST. The drivers then completed two laps at 14:30 BST before being called back to the pits.

There was then a delay of nearly three hours before two more laps were run behind the safety car at 17:17 BST, after which the race was called off.

Governing body the FIA rejected Hamilton’s claims, saying the plan was to do everything possible to try to run a race, with no other considerations.

Race director Michael Masi said the cars were sent out the final time “to see what the conditions were like”.

He added: “We were all aiming for a window that we thought was there. There was a weather band where we thought we could get some racing in. But you have all seen how rapidly the weather changes at this venue and the weather deteriorated so rapidly that we couldn’t.”

F1 said in a statement that it was “disappointed for all the fans at the track and at home”, adding: “The weather conditions unfortunately did not improve sufficiently to complete more laps.”

Hamilton likened the situation to last year’s cancelled Australian Grand Prix, when F1 flew to Melbourne as the coronavirus pandemic exploded across the world.

Hours before the Australian event was cancelled, Hamilton expressed his “shock” that the sport was holding the race and when asked why, he replied: “Cash is king.”

On Sunday, he said in the official news conference in Belgium: “Us being in Melbourne last year, there are some similarities to how today’s gone down, but at least everyone’s safe.

“I don’t know all the politics in the background, but my biggest concern is the fans probably should get their money back and, I don’t know if, by doing those two laps means they don’t. We have better values than that as a sport.”

McLaren Racing chief executive officer Zak Brown said F1 needed to “review” the situation and added: “We need a better solution as a sport.

“I don’t think anyone would say today it felt right calling that a race.”

The rules say half points are awarded if at least two laps and less than 75% race distance are completed.

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was declared winner of the race ahead of Williams driver George Russell and Hamilton. Verstappen cut Hamilton’s championship lead to three points and Russell scored his first podium finish as a result of his remarkable performance in finishing second in qualifying on Saturday.

Question marks over the awards of points

Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso said it was wrong to award points when there had been no racing.

“For some of them it was a little bit of an early Christmas,” he said, “because there were some gifts given today with some people, because we didn’t race but you still get the position and the points. It is a little bit shocking.”

Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel, who was fifth, was one of a number of other drivers who agreed. “It obviously was no race so we should not have points”, the German added, adding that receiving points felt “really odd”.

Alonso was one of many drivers to express their sympathy for the fans, who were out for hours in terrible weather and did not see a grand prix.

“It is sad for the people,” he said. “With this weather they have been always supporting and, after this pandemic, now to see them is so nice and when you can give them nothing it is terribly sad. A very strange day today.”

The safety car leads the drivers out around the track at Spa in the wet conditions
Visibility was a constant issue as drivers tried to follow the safety car around the circuit

Drivers unanimous on decision not to race

All the drivers agreed conditions had been too dangerous to race.

Verstappen said: “It just didn’t feel right. The fans probably won’t agree with what happened today but you just have to think about safety at the end.

“When you can’t see where you’re going and you can’t see where the car ahead of you is, you can’t race like that.”

Hamilton added: “I couldn’t go flat out down the straight because I had no idea where George was. Eau Rouge was pretty tricky and the worst thing would be if we had a crash like with Lando [Norris] yesterday and we wouldn’t have been able to see of there was a driver in the middle of the road.”

Russell said: “We may as well have been driving up the straights with our eyes closed at points because that’s how it would have been at a race start and it would have been chaos.”

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