Why not racing was a painful, but sensible choice

‘Farcical’, ‘an absolute joke’, ‘an utter waste of time’: superlatives like these have flooded the internet over the last few days over the way the 2021 Belgian GP was managed. These opinions are all critical – afterall, it is the fans who make the sport what it is. That said, the decision not to go racing was a sensible one at the treacherous Spa-Francorchamps circuit this past weekend, and here’s a brief explanation behind why that remains the case.

While it is true that F1 has raced in worse conditions before, F1’s approach to safety is stronger, and ‘what if’ circumstances are considered more strongly. Here’s a big what if from going green yesterday.

What if someone lost it atop Eau Rouge, like Lando Norris, in the race and bounced off the notorious tyre barrier into the path of another car? The tyre barrier on the outside of Eau Rouge has a track record of being a poor absorbant of the crash impact, with frightening recent crashes like that of Jack Aitken from the 2021 Spa 24 Hours and Beitske Visser’s lucky escape from the W Series’ visit in 2021 being strong examples of the same.

In dry conditions, avoiding someone bouncing off there at racing speed there is hard enough (ex: Aitken, the W Series crash), imagine this in the wet with minimal visibility. Side impacts were a dangerous possibility. All of this sounds eerily similar to the tragic Antoine Hubert crash and nobody ever wants to see a repeat of the same.

Along with the puddles, low visibility was a severe issue at the 2021 Belgian GP.

Of course, speeds would be slightly lower, but that is still not an insignificant hit. Going green there would be inviting chaos and costly crashes. That said, just seeing 2 laps behind the SC at the 2021 Belgian GP was a bitter disappointment and I can’t imagine what it must feel for paying fans.

It was evident – the idea was to get a classification, the minimum requirement F1 has to fulfil with its global broadcasters. Coming off a challenging pandemic financially, a race cancellation would impact the sport hard and as my co-host on the Inside Line F1 Podcast and Pits To Podium, Kunal Shah explained on the 2021 Belgian GP Race Review, racing on Monday wasn’t a possibility.

Start from 06:55 to listen to Kunal’s explanation behind not being able to race on Monday.

The way this situation was handled can be best described by Lewis Hamilton’s quote ‘Money talks’ and indeed it does. Morally, the right thing would be to offer a refund to the visiting fans, but Formula 1 has not taken any action on the same, yet.

The likes of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen, both deemed the conditions to be unsafe, even though they were willing to try them out, being the racing drivers they are.

With the rapid pace of the sport, a seemingly ground-breaking controversy like the 2021 Belgian GP will be forgotten in months, but remembered at pub-quizzes or when statisticians like @f1statsguru pull out the records. Everything said and done, at least every driver and car goes home safe and in perfect condition, albeit some with a few less spares.

Watch the stats review of the 2021 Belgian GP by @f1statsguru here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aGJJiqYdl1E