Spa day: Max Verstappen wins rain-soaked Belgian Grand Prix

Max-Verstappen-2021-Belgian-GP

Red Bull's Max Verstappen took victory in the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix, a race that's been regarded as among the most memorable Formula 1 races to date. 

The race start at Spa-Francorchamps was delayed for more than three hours due to torrential rain. Then, the race was reduced to a two-lap procession behind the safety car. However, as the heavy rains showed no signs of stopping, the grid returned to the pit and the race was red flagged. 

The procession led the Belgian GP to being the shortest Formula 1 race in terms of distance covered. The safety car-led laps were also done to meet the FIA's rulebook's requirement of an official race, which would mean half points would be given to the drivers. 

As a Dutchman born in Belgium, Verstappen seemed to be pleased, although not overjoyed, with his home-court win given the circumstances. Williams’ George Russell, who qualified second, took the first podium finish of his career with second place.  Lewis Hamilton finished third for Mercedes-Benz.

"It’s a shame the bad weather denied us a proper race. It’s P1, but the real winners are all the fans that stayed at the track in the rain all day... Incredible  #BelgianGP," Verstappen expressed via Twitter. 

2021-Belgian-GPMeanwhile, seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said that the fans who braved the cold weather were “robbed of a race." 

Verstappen scored 12.5 points, with Russell being awarded nine points for his first F1 podium finish. Hamilton scored 7.5 points, so now Verstappen has a three-point gap from the Mercedes driver with 199.5 points. Red Bull now sits on 303.5 points, seven behind Mercedes.

Another result of the downpour at the Ardennes circuit, Red Bull driver Sergio Pérez lost control of his RB16B on his reconnaissance lap to the grid. The Mexican’s car slid into the barriers, breaking the suspension on the front right of the car. 

2021-Belgian-GPWith rain continuing to fall ahead of the scheduled start at 3 p.m. local time, the formation lap was delayed for 25 minutes. When it eventually got underway,  the red flags were swiftly shown as drivers throughout the order declared the conditions to be undriveable.

There followed an almost three-hour delay as FIA race officials monitored conditions for any sign of weather improvement. Meanwhile, furious work was done in the Red Bull garage to ready Pérez’s car well ahead of the 6.18 pm start of what would be the shortest race in Formula 1 history.

Before the Belgian GP, the record was previously held by the 1991 Australian Grand Prix at just 14 lapsThe last time F1 had a half points race was in 2009 at the end of a Malaysian Grand Prix also halted by rain.

Photos from Formula 1, FIA

Also read:

Alpine's Esteban Ocon secures first-ever F1 win at Hungarian GP

Formula 1 Japanese GP cancelled due to COVID 'complexities'

 

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