F1 Has Something Worse Than Refunds For Everyone Who Suffered Through Spa

Instead of refunds for ticket holders at this year's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa, F1 has thought of something much worse

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The safety car leads Max Verstappen and Lewis Hamilton in Belgium
Wet Wet Wet.
Photo: Lars Baron (Getty Images)

Last week, we were lamenting the sport for the way race director Michael Masi was able to twist the rules of a safety car restart to impact the fate of the 2021 championship. And before that, it was the series’ rush to finish a brand new circuit in a country with a poor track record when it comes to equality and human rights.

Now, F1 is facing criticism for its handling of the Belgian Grand Prix, which was another fiasco for the sport this year.

Max Verstappen, George Russell and Lewis Hamilton race around Spa
Max Verstappen won the shortest race in F1 history.
Photo: John Thys / Contributor (Getty Images)
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For those of you who don’t remember the Belgian Grand Prix, here’s what happened: nothing.

Cars lined up on the grid for the parade lap, but conditions on track were too wet for any racing to get underway. The race was red flagged for what seemed like eternity, only for the cars to complete another few laps behind a safety car before F1 called it a day and crowned Max Verstappen winner of the shortest F1 race in history.

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While all that was going on, 70,000 fans at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium sat in their grandstands or lined the grassy banks around the track. There, they waited in the rain for a glimpse of racing action. None came.

To appease those dedicated fans who stayed in the horrendous conditions all day, the event organizers said that they were “working through” options to recompense spectators for what, ultimately, was a waste of a Sunday.

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A truck tries to sweep rain off the race track in Belgium
The fastest thing fans saw on track at Spa this year.
Photo: John Thys / Contributor (Getty Images)

Now, instead of offering refunds for those who stuck around, race organizers have come up with a much worse idea.

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For the up to 70,000 people that purchased tickets for the race, organizers are offering them the chance to win 170 tickets for the 2022 event. That’s right, of 70,000 people who paid to see an F1 race, just 170 will actually get to see one.

According to a report from Race Fans:

“​​Fans are not being offered any form of remuneration for their tickets, which can cost several hundreds of Euros each, they are being given the opportunity to enter a prize draw to win seats at next year’s race. A total of 170 seats will be given away: 20 ‘VIP’, 50 ‘Gold’ and 100 ‘Silver’. These can be redeemed for Sunday alone or the whole grand prix weekend.”

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Gold tickets for next year’s race start at €515 ($580), and Silver tickets start at €335 ($377).

According to Race Fans, as well as an entry into the prize draw, disgruntled ticket holders will also be offered one pass to access F1 TV, the sport’s official streaming app. They will also have the chance to attend an “exclusive event” ahead of next year’s race.

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The site says fans “have until the end of January to claim the offer”.

Sure, organizers still had to foot the bill for a race that never happened. That meant that infrastructure was in place, vendors were on site and staff had to be paid. But, surely there’s a way that these costs can be split between everyone involved, and not left just for the fans to pay?

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As I now find myself saying most weeks, please do better F1.