Formula 1’s farcical ‘race’ at Spa-Francorchamps yesterday created several unusual new lines in the history book.
That race was started, red-flagged, and never resumed. It ran for 14 laps, at the end of which the track was littered with debris and winner Ayrton Senna was waving angrily as he passed the pits, urging the officials to stop proceedings.
The Safety Car wasn’t in use then, whereas yesterday the drivers spent the entire ‘race’ behind it. The decision on how the race was classified was complicated: The drivers did a formation lap and a lap behind the Safety Car, only for the start procedure to be aborted. They then returned to the track and completed two further laps behind the Safety Car.
Without the latter, the race result wouldn’t have counted. As the race result has to be taken from the lap before the suspension, per the rules, the final classification was based on a single lap of running.
The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix is therefore now the shortest F1 race of all time at a length of one lap. But strictly speaking, it’s even less than that.
The official race classification document states the final race distance was less than the length of a lap – 6.88 kilometres instead of 7.004km. This is because there is a 124 metre offset between the start and finish line which has to be accounted for. So this was the race which last less than a lap.
Nonetheless, contentiously, points were awarded. As the race did not reach 75% distance (it fell 32 laps short) half-points were awarded. This was only the sixth time this has happened in the 1,047 world championship rounds held so far.
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The first two of these occured in 1975. That year’s Spanish Grand Prix was halted when Rolf Stommelen’s car hit several spectators, and four people were killed. Later in the year heavy rain forced an early end to the Austrian Grand Prix, and rain has been the reason for every other such instance since.
Remarkably, of the six so far, half were won by McLaren. Had Lando Norris pulled off his audacious bid for pole position on Saturday, we could well have had a fourth.
|Race||Circuit||Laps||Distance||Winning driver||Winning team||Points|
|1975 Spanish Grand Prix||Montjuich Park||29||109.91km||Jochen Mass||McLaren||4.5|
|1975 Austrian Grand Prix||Osterreichring||29||171.419km||Vittorio Brambilla||March||4.5|
|1984 Monaco Grand Prix||Monaco||31||102.672km||Alain Prost||McLaren||4.5|
|1991 Australian Grand Prix||Adelaide||14||52.92km||Ayrton Senna||McLaren||5|
|2009 Malaysian Grand Prix||Sepang International Circuit||31||171.833km||Jenson Button||Brawn GP||5|
|2021 Belgian Grand Prix||Spa-Francorchamps||1||6.88km||Max Verstappen||Red Bull||12.5|
Niki Lauda won the 1984 world championship by the smallest-ever margin of half a point, due to the points his team mate scored in Monaco. However yesterday’s race does not make that possible this year, as both Verstappen and Hamilton took half a point in their scores.
Formula 1 has not officially credited any driver with the fastest lap. This is likely because the only lap which was officially completed commenced in the pits, and ran behind the Safety Car. There has never previously been an F1 race where no driver set the fastest lap.
Verstappen’s 16th win puts him level with Stirling Moss, the two now sharing the record for most grand prix victories without a world championship title. Verstappen also took his ninth pole position, giving him the same number as Charles Leclerc.
George Russell put Williams on the front row of the grid for the first time since 2017 and, in the strange conditions of the race, also ended their four-year wait for a podium finish.
Have you spotted any other interesting stats and facts from the Belgian Grand Prix? Share them in the comments.
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2021 Belgian Grand Prix
- Spa spectators who saw no racing offered prize draw for 2022 tickets
- Honda reveal details of Verstappen’s Spa power unit upgrade
- Ocon congratulated by past French F1 aces after breakthrough win
- ‘Wrong to award points for a couple of laps behind the Safety Car’ – Horner
- Hamilton offers “exclusive gift” to fans who attended Belgian GP wash-out