Lewis Hamilton reckoned the F1 Belgian GP was similar to how the situation was during 2020 Australian GP, as the commercial aspect took center stage.
While Mercedes’ Hamilton had the podium and half points scored to still lead the drivers’ championship at the end of F1 Belgian GP, the Brit wasn’t too happy with the outcome, especially for the fans who waited for long and saw nothing but handful of laps.
He did speak on refunds, as he reckoned the happenings in F1 Belgian GP was similar to the events of 2020 Australian GP, where his comment ‘cash is king’ made headlines. “I’ve raced for years, so I don’t remember on the weather-side,” said Hamilton.
“In the background, us being in Melbourne last year when we shouldn’t have been, there are some similarities to how today’s gone down but at least everyone’s safe. Ultimately, the visibility behind… once we did the start on the grid, as soon as Max pulled away, he just disappeared.
“I couldn’t even see his red light ahead of me, so it must have been even worse for the guys back at the back. The worst thing is to see drivers in carnage and getting hurt. It’s a real shame. We obviously can’t control the weather. I’m sure all of us love racing in the rain, especially here in Spa. It’s one of the greatest circuits in the world.
“I think, I think just really disappointed for the fans. They stood out there for absolute hours in the rain, no covering in the grandstands – I think maybe on the pit grandstand there is – but cold and wet and particularly the kids. More importantly, they had to spend so much money with travelling, accommodation and then they didn’t get a race.
“Unfortunate, and I’m a little bit confused as to why they restarted the race because between the two hours when they stopped us the first time to the last time, there was no change in weather. But… yes… I mean I know why, but I do feel the fans were robbed of a race and I think they probably should get their money back,” summed up Hamilton.
When pressed on about the commercial aspect, Hamilton insisted that fans should get their money back as they weren’t able to watch the race. “There was no point at which we could race so there wasn’t a race, but there is a rule that says for it to be a legal race, it has to be – I think – a minimum of two laps,” he started.
“So, they knew that and they sent us out for two laps behind the safety car and that activates a bunch of things and I don’t know all the politics and the background but my most concern is that the fans should probably get their money back, I think, and I don’t know if by doing the two laps it means they don’t and that’s… I just don’t think that’s what we want. We have better values than that as a sport,” summed up Hamilton.
While Hamilton was clear about his stance, both FIA Race Director Michael Masi and F1 chief Stefano Domenicali, stated that they did all they could to have the grand prix. The latter, in fact, put down any commercial significance, as he said that irrespective of a race or not, the sport would have received its full sanctioning fees.
“When I hear that there was some commercial discussion behind that, it’s totally not true, because when we’re talking about racing, there is responsibility, that is a clear process, and those things are not connected at all,” said Domenicali to written media like F1, Motorsport Network, Racefans.net, The Race and more.
When asked about getting its full sanctioning fee, even without a race, he stated: “Absolutely. That’s why I said to consider that as something related to a commercial implication is wrong. For the people, of course, it’s a shame, because it’s something that everyone wants to see, a proper race. But I think that the decisions taken by race control are absolutely correct.
“There was the wish and the will to do the race. And as soon as there was information, I was following what was the situation there, there was a window of possible weather improvement to try to do the race. Then as soon as they restarted, the comments were pretty clear, and on the another side another weather forecast received, not possible.
“Despite the disappointment for everyone, I think in terms of management, it was the right thing to do,” summed up Domenicali, who then elaborated on the refunds part. The Italian didn’t think that is on F1 side to do, but more on the organiser work. He added that it is not possible, although, they can discuss how to compensate the fans.
“It’s something that we can discuss together with the organiser,” said Domencali. “We are not the ones that are putting out the tickets. Some sign of attention could be done, so it’s something that as a gesture of attention, in terms of what will be the right reward in this condition. Unfortunately the race is not there. You can pay the ticket and it is what it is.
“At the end of the day, for sure, the organiser, together with us, will consider the attention, the maximum attention to the fans, that’s for sure. I think there will be ideas that they already are thinking about, considering what has happened this year. Overall, the message is clear, that unfortunately we don’t control the time.
“Two laps or no laps, the spend was there. So, it’s not a problem of laps. It was the point of trying to do the race. I think on that, race control tried to do the maximum to do it. So as I said, it’s not a problem of laps or no laps, it’s really unfortunate conditions. You need to consider safety for everyone, and that’s very very important.
“As I said, the first to be disappointed is me, because I love racing, but there are always conditions where you cannot do it,” summed up Domenicali, who cleared out on why the race on Monday was not possible. “Not just for logistical, for a lot of reasons, you cannot schedule the race the day after for many things, related to availability of marshals, availability of other stuff,” he said.
“That was considered, of course, but it’s not possible. With the promoters, everything is very close, they followed the decision process, so they are not out of that.” Interestingly, Hamilton revealed that he met Domenicali during the stoppage, when the Brit was in his room listening to the new Kanye album.
Here’s how the F1 Belgian GP panned out