Belgian GP: Does F1 need rules review after Spa washout? Reaction to two-lap ‘race’ and half points

Formula 1 drivers, team bosses and the Sky Sports F1 pundits have called for a change of the sport’s rules after Sunday’s abandoned Belgian GP, which saw half points awarded despite not featuring a single racing lap.

Amid continuous rain and poor visibility at Spa-Francorchamps, the initial race start was delayed before drivers finally got out on track again some three hours later than planned – but only behind the Safety Car at very slow speed, before the race was red-flagged and deemed unsafe to resume.

However, the two laps of running – and technically three for leader Max Verstappen – meant a race result was reached, with the top-10 finishers essentially running in their grid positions from qualifying. They were then rewarded, with the regulations stating that “half points will be awarded if the leader has completed more than two laps but less than 75 per cent” of the race distance.

  • Lewis Hamilton labels Belgian GP ‘a farce’ | FIA explains decisions
  • The story of a wet and weird Sunday at the Belgian GP

It went down as the shortest race in F1 history – ‘beating’ the 14-lap 1991 Australian GP – and as the first Grand Prix to involve no racing. It also led to plenty of debate in the paddock.

While nobody believed the conditions were suitable for racing, and there was a general consensus the FIA did all it could to get a race started, many disagreed with the fact points were handed out.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso, who finished just outside the points in his Alpine, labelled the rule “shocking” and said it “made no sense”.

🗣️ "It's shocking.

"I'm P11 – the first idiot, in a way. I was not allowed to fight for points, but they gave the points.

"It makes 𝗻𝗼 sense."

Fernando Alonso delivers his assessment of Sunday's two-lap #BelgianGP…#SkyF1 | #F1 pic.twitter.com/aSKL3yVcVM

“Very disappointing,” he added to Sky F1. “I’m P11 – the first idiot, in a way. I was not allowed to fight for points, but they gave the points.

“For many people it was early Christmas I guess, because there were some gifts given today.”

Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz was 10th, mainly because of grid penalties and crashes, and scored the seldom-seen 0.5 points. But he was not happy, either.

“In Qualy we struggled but today we didn’t race, and I got half a point for something that I think I don’t deserve, because I didn’t have a race,” he said.

“This is maybe the only thing maybe we need to review because to have points for something that didn’t happen, for me it doesn’t make sense. But it is what it is, and hopefully we can review for the future.”

More reaction to F1’s ‘low point’ | ‘We need to learn from it’

Sky F1 pundits and former F1 drivers Karun Chandhok and Martin Brundle were in Spa reporting on the race on Sunday, and felt similarly uncomfortable about the result, calling for F1 rules changes.

My personal view is that FIA needs to learn from Spa & change the rules on what constitutes “a race”.

I would say it needs at least 25% of laps run without the safety car to classify it as a race & award half points.

If drivers aren’t allowed to overtake, it can’t be a race 🤷🏽‍♂️

“My personal view is that FIA needs to learn from Spa & change the rules on what constitutes “a race”,” stated Chandhok on social media. “I would say it needs at least 25 per cent of laps run without the safety car to classify it as a race & award half points. If drivers aren’t allowed to overtake, it can’t be a race.”

Brundle, who was on commentary throughout the afternoon, highlighted another F1 oddity with his post, after the original lap count was reduced following various delays.

It’s fair to say that if a race can go from a scheduled 44 laps to 39 laps remaining without actually officially starting, then the regulations need a rethink. Sorry we let you down in Spa, F1’s done great job of entertaining during the pandemic but today was a low point 😔

“It’s fair to say that if a race can go from a scheduled 44 laps to 39 laps remaining without actually officially starting, then the regulations need a rethink,” he wrote.

“Sorry we let you down in Spa, F1’s done great job of entertaining during the pandemic but today was a low point.”

A message to the fans – here’s my take on today pic.twitter.com/dGtOSKFODu

McLaren boss Zak Brown, meanwhile, delivered a similar verdict with a video on Twitter late on Sunday night.

The Woking team scored six points on Sunday via Daniel Ricciardo’s fourth-placed finish, although Lando Norris was unable to mount a comeback after his Saturday qualifying crash.

“I think the FIA did everything they did to put on the race, they obviously can’t control the weather,” said Brown, McLaren Racing’s CEO. “They do need to put the drivers’ safety first, the conditions were not raceable.

“The regulations state after you do a few laps, it can be called a race. I think that needs to be reviewed.

“I don’t think anyone could argue the weather was safe to race in, but we need a better solution as a sport when that type of situation happens – the outcome should not be a race after three laps behind a Safety Car.

“That is what the rules say, but that needs to be reviewed by all of us to learn from today and realise that if we are given this kind of situation differently to make sure the outcome is everyone gets their racing, whether that’s the following day, whether we come back.

“It’s quite complicated with the schedule, but I don’t think anyone would say today that it felt right calling that a race. We will get to work on this and hope that something like this doesn’t happen again.”

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