Sports

F1 drivers livid after farcical Belgian GP

Rain-hit Belgian GP decided by a few laps behind safety car, with no overtaking

The rainswept Belgian Grand Prix yesterday morning (Singapore time) will go down in history as Formula One's shortest-ever race, and also as a leading contender for most farcical.

Just calling it a race takes a mighty stretch of the imagination - a delay of more than three hours with crowds enduring cold and rain to see a few processional laps behind the safety car in heavy spray, and with no overtaking.

Officially, the action lasted all of three minutes and 27 seconds with Red Bull's Max Verstappen the winner - a result effectively decided in Saturday's qualifying.

Half points were then handed out for only the sixth time in history as insufficient distance was covered.

The situation prompted several drivers to lash out.

"If you want to get a reward for qualifying, you should get points for qualifying," said Aston Martin's four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel, who finished fifth.

Ferrari's Carlos Sainz, who finished 10th, asked: "If there were actually no race laps, no competition, why should points be given and any result be given, because there was basically no race?"

The rules say at least two laps are necessary for a race to become official and half points awarded, but the solution came across as a cynical box-ticking exercise to some and plain wrong to others.

The champagne was sprayed but, apart from George Russell appearing on the podium for the first time for Williams with second place, there was little to celebrate.

Seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton, who finished third, said the fans had been robbed and should get their money back.

He later took to Instagram to call it a "farce", adding: "We should have just called it quits."

McLaren boss Zak Brown called for the rules to be overhauled to prevent such a situation happening again.

"We wanted to race, our drivers wanted to race and of course we know you wanted to see a race," Brown told fans in a video posted on Twitter.

"And that's not what you saw, that's not what we participated in.

"The regulations state that after you do a few laps, it can be called a race. I think that needs to be reviewed... we need a better solution as a sport when that type of situation happens.

" I don't think anyone would say today it felt right calling that a race."

FIA race director Michael Masi insisted commercial factors would never play a part in any decision regarding track conditions or racing.

He said also that postponement by a day had not been an option, with the Dutch Grand Prix following this weekend, and insisted there had been a hope the race might start.

Any commercial motives were also rejected by Formula One chief executive Stefano Domenicali.

"There was really the will to do the race," insisted the Italian. "But the problem is that the weather started to be even worse...

"So it's not really commercial on that, I can guarantee you."

- REUTERS

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