2021 Belgian Grand Prix
The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix (officially known as the Formula 1 Rolex Belgian Grand Prix 2021) was a Formula One motor race held on 29 August 2021 at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. It was the twelfth round of the 2021 Formula One World Championship. The race was also the 77th overall running of the Belgian Grand Prix, the 66th time the event was run as part of the Formula One World Championship and the 54th World Championship Belgian Grand Prix held at the Spa circuit. The race was won by
Max Verstappen ahead of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
Originally intended to be to run over a distance of 44 laps, due to very wet conditions only two laps took place behind the safety car before a red flag brought an end to the race during lap three, with the regulations requiring the results to be taken from the end of lap one. As a consequence of this, half points were given to the drivers who finished in the top 10 positions.
As of 2022, it holds the record for being the shortest Formula One World Championship race ever held, both in terms of number of laps and kilometres raced, beating the previous record for race distance which was set by the 1991 Australian Grand Prix (at 52.920 km (32.883 mi)) and the record for the fewest number of officially classified laps in a Grand Prix set at the 1971 German Grand Prix (12 laps). The decision to run the race for just two full laps behind the safety car before red flagging the race on lap 3 was controversial. The FIA and their then race director Michael Masi were criticised by media, fans, teams and drivers for some of their decision-making during the weekend, particularly in regards to race day itself.
The race is the only World Championship race not to have any running under full green flag conditions in its duration. This led commentators to question the validity and sporting integrity of officially classifying and awarding points in a Grand Prix where the only laps run were completed behind the Safety Car. Formula One was accused by some commentators and competitors of putting its commercial interests above the interests of paying spectators at the circuit and fans in general by not abandoning the event with no race result, and not giving fans a partial ticket refund. Other commentators and competitors felt the awarding of half points was justified to reward competitors who had qualified strongly, even if the race scenario was not ideal.
In response to the overall negative reactions surrounding the race, the sport set about finding suitable methods of preventing a repeat scenario, and it was subsequently decided to change the sporting regulations which from 2022 onwards would state a race must involve a minimum of two laps of green flag running without a safety car or virtual safety car in order for any points to be awarded. Subsequent changes in point structure for shortened races from 2022, mean that reduced points would be awarded to fewer drivers (depending on the distance covered).