FIA keen to ‘learn and improve’ from Spa fiasco

Jon Wilde
Max Verstappen leads the Belgian GP behind the Safety Car. August 2021.

Max Verstappen [Red Bull] follows the Safety Car as leader of a wet Belgian Grand Prix. August 2021.

FIA president Jean Todt has confirmed the Belgian Grand Prix fiasco will be discussed at the next meeting of the F1 Commission.

Over the course of several hours on Sunday, as rain fell incessantly at Spa, a number of issues came to the fore as race director Michael Masi and the stewards deliberated on whether the grand prix could begin in earnest.

They included whether the race had officially started or not when it was initially red-flagged; whether Sergio Perez could take the restart having been officially retired by Red Bull after crashing on the installation lap; the stopping of the race duration clock under force majeure; and the eventual method of classification at the end of the ‘race’ and awarding of half-points.

Todt issued a statement explaining the FIA’s stance and asserting that lessons will be learned to ensure things are clearer should any similar scenario arise in the future.

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“This year’s Belgian Grand Prix presented extraordinary challenges to the FIA Formula 1 World Championship,” began Todt’s statement.

“The weather windows predicted by the forecasters did not appear throughout the day and while a small window did appear late in the day during which there was an attempt to start the race, conditions quickly worsened again.

“Therefore, due to the lack of visibility created by the spray behind the cars, we could not run the full race in sufficiently safe conditions for the drivers, marshals as well as the brave spectators who waited for many hours in the rain, for whom I am very sorry.

“This has been recognised by all stakeholders.

“The FIA stewards, based on the provisions of the International Sporting Code, stopped the competition to gain more time, and therefore more potential, to give the fans an F1 race.

“Despite these efforts, the race could not be started after the Safety Car laps and the existing regulations were correctly applied.

“I would like to thank and congratulate the FIA team, the ASN (national sporting authority) and all the volunteers for the quality of their work.

“The FIA, together with Formula 1 and the teams, will carefully review the regulations to see what can be learned and improved for the future.

“The findings, including the topic of points allocation, will be added to the agenda of the next F1 Commission meeting on October 5.”

The upshot regarding the World Championship was that Max Verstappen’s ‘victory’ reduced Lewis Hamilton’s lead in the standings to three points with potentially 10 races remaining.