EThere was also good news from Spa-Francorchamps: Formula 1, the ultimate performance optimization club in top sport, cannot calculate and simulate everything in advance in order to be able to stay in the race at all times. At the weekend, the self-proclaimed high-tech circus in Spa-Francorchamps failed due to the weather.
It left Formula 1 standing in the rain for a good three hours. The start of the Belgian Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday 3 p.m., did not start until 6:17 p.m. because of the heavy rainfall combined with poor visibility in the High Fens. After two laps behind the safety car, the field returned to the pit lane. Pole position winner Red Bull driver Max Verstappen was declared the winner ahead of George Russell (Williams) and Lewis Hamilton in a Mercedes.
The result largely reflected the result of the qualification training. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) came in fifth, Mick Schumacher was ranked 16th. With a halved number of points as a profit, Verstappen moved up to three on Hamilton. “I’m particularly sorry for the fans,” said Hamilton before a bizarre award ceremony: “I hope you get your money back.”
Formula 1 under pressure
Rain, rain again and again. Gray clouds also piled up over the famous race track in Belgium on Sunday. The fog hung in the valleys, the temperatures dropped to 13 degrees Celsius in late summer. Fans, many of them from the Netherlands to support their compatriot Max Verstappen, persevered indefatigably. Thousands crouched under umbrellas or in raincoats, freezing in the mud of some natural grandstands – and waved cheerfully into the cameras for a long time.
Broadcasters from all over the world broadcast an extended weather report live from Spa. Formula 1 was under pressure. Race management delayed the first attempt to start the twelfth Grand Prix of the season by 30 minutes and let the field circle for a test drive behind the safety car. Drivers immediately reported aquaplaning.
Sergio Perez had the experience of an uncontrolled bolide under the very best on the first exit on Sunday when he was supposed to drive to his starting place: Once while swimming himself on the rain tires, he slipped from the asphalt over the grass strip in the combination of curves “Les Combes” . His Red Bull bored into the barrier.
The right front wheel suspension buckled. “That shouldn’t happen in the introductory lap,” said Red Bulls sporting director Helmut Marko with a growl. The constant postponements of the start allowed the racing team to attempt repairs. Done, done. The car was finished before the weather improved, the driver smiled again. He was allowed to start from the pit lane, but made no progress: last.
At first glance, Perez’s mishap is one of the embarrassing mistakes. But under these conditions even bigger experts have “lost” their car. And so the race management decided during the first exit, shortly after Hamilton pointed out that he could no longer see the taillights in the spray behind the people in front, to steer all the racing cars off the track again.
Lando Norris’ crash in qualifying probably played a role here. On Saturday afternoon, the 21-year-old Englishman took off on a comparably wet runway at 307 km / h. After impact and five pirouettes, he emerged from the wreck, surprisingly enough, with a bruised arm and the painful realization that his own warning voice could not be heard. Norris had warned against aquaplaning from the cockpit, but then stepped on the gas. The young Englishman felt the chance to win pole position.
Sebastian Vettel, too, demanded to be stopped in the middle of the race for the best starting position, before it cracked twenty seconds later: “What did I say, what did I say? Bloody hell. That was completely unnecessary, “Vettel exclaimed excitedly into the on-board microphone. After the weather had improved and the qualifying session was over, a discussion about the personal responsibility of the helmsman and the duty of care of the race director Michael Masi developed. Vettel admitted that the Australian may not be able to hear all the voices at the same time at such moments.
Especially since there are different judgments: “I could drive,” said Verstappen, for example, before the first demolition on Sunday from his cockpit. No wonder, he had good vision as a leader. Vettel stuck to his core requirement: to put more trust in assessing the condition of the racetrack, who risk life and limb: “If the appropriate comments (from the cockpits / d. Ed.) Come, then the traffic lights have to be turned on again quickly Set red. The accident could have turned out much worse. “
On Sunday, the pilots’ assessments of visibility played a decisive role. “It’s too dangerous”, Mercedes’ team boss Toto Wolff had also declared in the late afternoon. Nothing changed until early evening. There were also economic reasons why Formula 1 circled briefly. The Grand Prix is considered to have been driven. As a result, claims from sponsors, TV broadcasters and the promoter were thwarted. A postponement to Monday, as requested by Marko, should not have been possible due to the proximity to the race in Zandvoort next Sunday.
But there is still time to implement a result. The upper part of the famous stretch from the Eau Rouge depression up to Raidillon will be changed. Minor accidents in Formula 3, in the women’s formula class and in Formula 1 demonstrated how necessary it is to prevent uncontrolled cars from being thrown back onto the ideal line, which is noticeably frequent. The risk is known. In 2019, the French Formula 2 driver Anthoine Hubert died in such a crash.