The Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix was held at the most exciting racing track in the world, the Spa Francorchamps. The track is in the hills of the Arden Forest in Belgium. This was the first race after FIA’s mandatory summer break, the 12th round of the 2021 Formula 1 season, and the first race of the second triple-header of the season.
Lewis led the championship heading into the race. The prediction was for the whole race weekend to be affected by changing weather conditions. The qualifying was completed under treacherous conditions, with Max snatching the pole position from George Russell. Weather conditions got even worse on Sunday, and no meaningful race took place. Max was declared the winner of the Belgian Grand Prix ahead of George Russell and Lewis Hamilton.
Pre-Race Preparations Thursday
Belgium had a summer full of extreme rain and a devastating flood just a month before the race. The weather prediction looked gloomy for the race weekend, with moderate to heavy rain forecasts as the race approached Sunday. Teams usually test the low downforce wing levels in this circuit to prepare for the race in Monza.
The three tyre compounds that Pirelli brought were from the middle of the range. C2 (White) was the hard tyre, C3 (Yellow) medium, and C4 (Red) soft. Intermediate tyres were green, while full wet-weather tyres were blue.
Practice Sessions of the F1 Belgian Grand Prix 2021
Luck was on the side of the teams, and both the practice sessions on Friday were largely dry. Bottas was the quickest in the FP1 session ahead of Max Verstappen. At the end of the FP2 session, Verstappen took the top spot ahead of Bottas and Lewis Hamilton.
The top three were covered by less than a tenth of a second. Alonso’s Alpine was the fourth-quickest ahead of Pierre Gasly's Alpha Tauri. Ferrari and McLaren were usually behind the top two teams but were running different programs. Aston Martin also looked like a top 10 prospect for the qualifying and the race, but the battle for the pole position was clearly between Red Bull and Mercedes.
The rain got more consistent from Saturday morning and kept its steady pace. The teams were lucky enough to complete the session using only a set of Intermediate wet-weather tyres. Max was still the man to beat ahead of his teammate and Lewis Hamilton. Lando Norris was the fourth quickest ahead of the Alpine of Esteban Ocon. Lance Stroll was 6th ahead of Gasly, Vettel, Russell, and Alonso.
Qualifying Sessions of the F1 Belgian GP
Q1 was delayed by 12 minutes to allow circuit conditions to improve after the heavy rain. All the drivers headed out on full wet tyres except for the Williams. After the first hot laps, it was pretty clear that Intermediate was the right tyre. Lando Norris finished the session on top. Both the drivers of Alfa Romeo, Haas and Yuki Tsunoda failed to qualify for Q2.
Light rain continued throughout the Q2 session, sending drivers to use Intermediate tyres for the second phase. Norris finished the session on top ahead of Max. Lewis just finished inside the top 10 after opting to go for used Inters at the start of the session. Latifi, the Ferrari duo, Alonso, and Stroll failed to reach Q3.
It was raining much heavier at the start of the Q3 session. Norris and Vettel went out first on full wet tyres. It was Norris's pole position that laid the benchmark. Vettel complained that it was aquaplaning, and the session should be red-flagged. Norris started the fast lap, and while going through Eau Rouge, a snap of oversteer spun him around, sending him crashing on top of the hill. The red flag was deployed, and Norris was recovered from the car.
Once the conditions improved, the session restarted, with Inters as the right tyre for the remaining nine minutes. George Russell delivered a sublime lap to take provisional pole position ahead of Lewis Hamilton, but Max snatched the P1 with a better lap. Ricciardo qualified a brilliant fourth ahead of Vettel, Gasly, Perez, Bottas, Ocon and Norris.
Sunday Race – the Heavily Rained 2021 Belgian Grand Prix
Rain stepped up a gear on Sunday, the perfect recipe to a horrible start of a Formula One race. A safety car led the pack at 15:30 local time. After a couple of laps, the race was red-flagged, and the cars returned to the pitlane.
The cars were aquaplaning, and the spray made it impossible for the drivers to see ahead. The race was suspended at 17:00 local time. Perez, who crashed on the way to the grid, was allowed to join later by the race stewards.
The race restarted at 18:17 local time behind the safety car. After another couple of laps, it was evident that the conditions were even worse than before. The race was red-flagged again as cars returned to the pitlane. At 18:30 FIA announced that the race would not resume, and the top 10 drivers would be awarded half points.
The 2021 F1 Belgian Grand Prix was the shortest race in the history of Formula 1 with not a single lap raced and the field only covering a little over 14 km of race distance behind the safety car.
Max was declared the winner ahead of George (his maiden podium) and Lewis Hamilton. Ricciardo was fourth ahead of Vettel, Gasly, Ocon, Leclerc, Latifi and Sainz.
F1 2021 Dutch Grand Prix
Formula 1 will return to host a Dutch Grand Prix at the Zandvoort circuit for the first time since 1985.