Tue. Sep 28th, 2021

The 2021 Belgian Grand Prix has been abandoned and Max Verstappen declared the winner amid torrential rain at Spa-Francorchamps.

Half points were awarded to the drivers in qualifying order — less Sergio Perez, who dropped to last thanks to a crash on the reconnaissance lap — after two laps were completed behind the safety car to satisfy the regulations to produce a classification, short of the 75 percent required to award full points.

Rain had lashed Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps all day and intensified in the lead-up to the race. By the time pit lane opened grip was so low that Sergio Perez slid off the road at Les Combes and embedded himself in the barrier, leaving him unable to make it to the grid.

The race start was subsequently suspended for 25 minutes before the grid departed for a series of formation laps behind the safety car, but after two exploratory laps race control called off the start procedure and threw a red flag.

“I already can’t see anything, guys,” Hamilton radioed his team from third place, complaining about the density of the spray with only Verstappen and George Russell ahead of him.

“I have to leave a little bit more space to the safety car because I can’t see anything,” Verstappen said, though the Dutchman added he felt the track was otherwise raceable notwithstanding the lack of visibility.

The grid returned to pit lane to wait for a break in the weather, and race control paused the three-hour time limit on the total duration of the event in the hope the rain would abate before sunset.

After a suspension of almost 200 minutes, the weather subsided enough to contemplate a race, which got underway with a 60-minute time limit behind the safety car. But visibility was little improved when 20 cars returned to the track, and after two laps shrouded in mist the race was red flagged and eventually called off altogether.

Verstappen was classified the winner ahead of Russell, who scored his first podium, and title leader Hamilton whose lead was cut to three points as a result.

Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc and Nicholas Latifi and Carlos Sainz as the points scorers.

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