After completing just under nine miles of racing, none of which were under the green flag, Max Verstappen was crowned ‘winner’ of the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix — the shortest race in all of Formula One history.
With a saturated race track, the Belgian Grand Prix chaos started well before the formation lap. Lewis Hamilton reported there was no grip during his warm-up lap, and Red Bull Racing’s Sergio Perez hit the wall hard. There was no recovering the damage, and he would not start the race.
The start was delayed, and it was set to start behind a safety car. It was too wet to continue, though, so the start was postponed. As a result, Red Bull was able to fix Perez’s car and petitioned to rejoin the new start of the race. The FIA said no, since the race had started, but Red Bull argued that the race hadn’t actually started, so they should be able to compete.
Race director Michael Masi later ruled that the race had technically started at 3:00 PM local time, so the clock had been ticking down before cars even took a full lap. Only one hour and 45 minutes remained on the clock at the time of Masi’s ruling, as F1 maintains that races must take place within a three-hour time slot.. The FIA also ruled that Perez could start from pit lane, should he get repaired.
It was an interesting decision, as the start was delayed from 3:00 to 3:25, so many were arguing that the clock should not have started. It was also said that each delayed start knocked a lap off the overall lap count, so if the race were to start, it would have been reduced from 44 laps to 39.
With one hour left on the clock, the stewards decided to put a pause on the draining of time, citing “force majeure,” so there was still a chance to get a race in.
Teams received a 10-minute warning that the race was set to resume at 6:17pm local time, during which period the rain got worse. In the ever-changing Spa parlance, the race would technically resume as soon as the safety car pulled out of the pit lane; the time clock began to count down from one hour. Half points would be awarded if the leader completed more than two laps behind the safety car but less than 75 percent of the original race distance.
Perez was ultimately allowed to start the race, which he did from his garage after all the cars had exited pit lane.
A red flag was thrown after two laps had been completed, with just under nine minutes of on-track action having transpired. F1 continued to hang onto the hope that things would kick off again. Nikita Mazepin secured fastest lap.
At 14.008 kilometers, or 8.699 miles, the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix will go down in history as the shortest Formula One Grand Prix of all time.
George Russell maintained second place, the first podium for Williams in several years and the second points-scoring race in a row for the team. Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes rounded out the podium.