The race that never was!

A rainy Spa on a Sunday after a wet qualifying? F1 fans everywhere anticipated the race with anxious excitement knowing both how good and how dangerous this race can be. Our first drama arrived 30 minutes before lights out as on the way to the grid Sergio Perez went over the paint at Les Combes and had little control as he slid into the wall. The car was not repairable before the scheduled start of the race and Red Bull were looking like they would have to take a DNS.

After two formation laps behind the safety car the start procedure was suspended, and everyone went back into the pit lane. It originally looked like the race had not started however, confirmed by Michael Masi, under article 6.5 of the technical regulations, the three hour window to complete a race started at the scheduled start time.

In the Red Bull camp, a fascinating conversation transpired between Johnathan Wheatly and Michael Masi as to whether Perez could re-join the race. Initially, Masi said he couldn’t because he had ‘outside assistance’, but the race had not officially started and therefore he could still make the start of the race. This actually caused Masi to check and get back to Red Bull. Masi confirmed almost 30 minutes later that Perez could start from the pit lane, much to Red Bull’s delight. It was then revealed that one lap had been taken off the lap count, suggesting Perez would be a lap down. However, with unprecedented circumstances, the regulations showed a loop pole which meant that Perez could start on the lead lap from the pitlane but could not start on the grid – eventhat was assuming they would go back to the grid. The confusion was mutual between fans, commentary, the teams, and the FIA.

After his team’s exceptional efforts, Sergio Perez’s crash and torrential rain cost him a chance at scoring points – Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

The confusion continued as to whether we would be on lap two or lap 6. Regulations are not covered for this sort of event, but you can probably expect to see them changed after today. Added to the mess, the three-hour count down clock was stopped with an hour of the time left. This is a ruling which the stewards are allowed to exploit according to the regulations for these sorts of circumstances.

Just over two hours after the race was due to start, the message that every fan wanted – ‘race will be resumed at 18:17 local time – was issued, and it seemed a timed race would be on! There was still potential that this could just be laps behind the safety car but either way, those fans at Spa deserved to see some cars. Coming out of the pits the race had officially started and as long as two laps were completed a classification and half points could be awarded. Whilst the track looked OK in terms of standing water, the problem still remained that the spray made visibility virtually zero for the drivers. Because of this, the race was suspended again.

Just 10 minutes later the dreaded message saying the race would not resume was produced. Max Verstappen won with George Russell getting a P2 and celebrating on the podium after some brilliant work yesterday was absolutely deserved. The biggest loser was Perez, who, despite re-joining the race, finished 20th making it not really worth running.

Whilst anti-climactic compared to yesterday’s qualifying, it is worth saying that, yes they have started in worse conditions in past decades, but these regulations are here for the driver’s safety, which is the most important thing, and it was definitely too wet to race.

Some of the most exciting action came from the fans, who, despite the awful weather, stuck with it and were out in force. Every time the camera panned to them they were laughing and joking having a great time. Daniel Ricciardo went out to entertain the grandstand opposite the pitlane with a Mexican wave, and full participation was achieved! Some of the most loyal fans in the world.

We go to Zandvoort in seven days and hoping that the weather doesn’t follow F1 there.

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