In name, Max Verstappen ‘won’ the Belgian Grand Prix, but it was a day marked by bad weather and some bizarre decisions by F1. In Belgium, we saw three laps completed, eight minutes of driving and no racing whatsoever, in what was truly a depressing day for the sport.
This is typically where I’d write a race report, and everything was building up for a good one. Spa-Francorchamps is usually a good track for racing, and we entered this race with the Hamilton-Verstappen rivalry showing no signs of abating after the summer break. Qualifying gave us some exciting moments – there was a dreadful crash at 185mph for Lando Norris, from which he was fortunate to escape without injury. And then, George Russell in the Williams pulled one of the best qualifying laps you’ll ever see, finishing second between Verstappen on pole and Hamilton in third.
But then, the race itself – if you could even call it a race. The rain was bad all morning, and the track was very wet – the start kept being delayed and red flagged, and it was looking likely that there would not be a race at all. The drivers certainly thought so – it was much too dangerous, and visibility was far too low. There was no real way that a race was going to happen, and that was clear to everyone.
Whatever happens this weekend, it’ll be better than this total waste of time
Yet after a delay of three hours and 17 minutes and no real improvement in the weather, the F1 leadership made a bizarre move – they deemed the race fit to start, with the cars leaving the pit lane behind the safety car. There was one reason for this – once two laps are completed, a race result can be declared, and it seemed that was F1’s goal no matter what. The cars trundled out in exactly the order they’d qualified and returned to the pits after another red flag. 20 minutes later, the race was stopped for good – half points were awarded to the top ten.
Having just scraped the pole, Verstappen won 12.5 points, and is now only three championship points behind Lewis Hamilton. Russell technically achieved his first podium finish, and it’s hard to begrudge him the points after a phenomenal drive, but this isn’t how he’d want to have achieved that result. The top five was rounded out by Daniel Ricciardo and Sebastian Vettel, but there will always be an asterisk next to this event. There was a podium after the results were declared, but there was clearly also a huge feeling of embarrassment for the three drivers standing atop it.
Next weekend, F1 returns to the Zandvoort track for the first Dutch Grand Prix since 1985. Verstappen will obviously have home support, but will he deliver a win? I’ll confirm one thing for you – whatever happens, it’ll be better than this total waste of time. No F1 race has ever been abandoned before the start in the sport’s history but, after seeing the bear minimum F1 will do to technically keep races on, a lot of fans may wish this farce of a Belgian GP broke that record.