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Masi: No possibility to postpone race

NEWS STORY
29/08/2021

As today's events at Spa Francorchamps draw widespread criticism, Michael Masi explains why the Belgian Grand Prix couldn't be postponed until Monday.

The true heroes of today's event were the ever patient fans that sat in the grandstands and lined the circuit.

Despite the cold, the rain and the long, long wait, the fans rose to the occasion, dancing and singing as opposed to complaining, booing and demanding refunds.

Whether it was dancing the Macarena, or singing along to Billy Idol or Boney M, they refused to give up, they were there to have a good time even if the Weather Gods and F1's powers that be were doing their best to prevent it.

Seven-time world champion, Lewis Hamilton echoed what many were saying online, though his words will go unheeded at F1 Towers.

"Money talks," said the Mercedes star. "It was literally, the two laps to start the race, it's all a money scenario.

"So everyone gets their money," he continued, "and I think the fans should get theirs back too, because unfortunately, they didn't get to see what they came and paid for.

"It's a shame we can't do the race tomorrow," he added. "I love this track as well, I'm so sad that we couldn't do this, but today wasn't a race.

"The sport made a bad choice today," he sighed. "Of course we wanted to race. There's a minimum of two laps that you need to do to count as a race, and between that gap of stopping the first time to the second time, it had rained consistently. There's only one reason they sent us out. So that's why I feel more bad for the fans."

Meanwhile, race director, Michael Masi, who has faced fierce criticism on social media explained why the race couldn't be postponed.

"There is no ability to postpone the race until tomorrow," he said. "Obviously from the FIA perspective, and jointly with F1, safety is paramount for drivers, the teams and all of the spectators.

"We gave every available opportunity within the rulebook and the provisions of the International Sporting Code to give us the best opportunity for us to complete a race," he insisted.

"Unfortunately on this occasion we could not go the full distance that was available, but with the provisions to stop the clock, is what we tried to do to see if we could get ourselves in that weather window of some activity."

Contrary to claims that the two laps behind the safety car were a cynical means to 'get a result', Masi said: "No, it was to see what the conditions were like.

"We are in constant contact with our official weather providers," he continued, "and there was a window that looked like it was provided there.

"We've got the requirement to give a ten minute warning to everyone so it was like, 'OK, let's try and see if we can find that window'.

"A number of the teams said the same thing and they saw that window and could see exactly what we were trying to do to find that weather window and then the weather came in again and got the better of us."

In an official statement, F1 subsequently said: "Following the significant weather disruption to the 2021 FIA Formula 1 Belgian Grand Prix, the FIA and Formula 1 are disappointed for all the fans at the track and at home that today's race could not go to full distance, but the safety of the drivers, marshals and spectators must always be the priority.

"The Decision of the Stewards to extend the window in which the race could take place gave every possible opportunity to maximise the day's running, but the weather conditions unfortunately did not improve sufficiently to complete more laps."

Check out our Sunday gallery from Spa, here.

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READERS COMMENTS

 

1. Posted by kenji, 01/09/2021 1:23

"@ Cobra Driver...Well may you say 'good grief'. Firstly let me dispel the 'facts' that you have surmised. I don't sit back in a well padded armchair at all. More's the pity. Secondly, I am fully supportive of the stewards who faced an almost insurmountable number of continuously changing conditions whilst trying to weave their way through the complex R & R's that govern the running of a F1 GP. Of course there will be competing claims by those with vested interests who will attempt to create further distortions of what eventuated. If you are well acquainted with F1, you would know and accept that as normal. I am fastly coming to the conclusion that the majority of the 'social media set' have very little comprehension of the complexity of actually running a GP let alone driving in draconian conditions like those that were experienced at Spa. Have a very nice day and enjoy Zandvoort, hopefully a race, free of rain, mud and tears."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Cobra Driver, 31/08/2021 15:54

"Kenji.......yeah, sit back in your padded armchair and tell us all how wonderful the stewards handled the event. Then read comments from the teams. Good grief!
"

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3. Posted by kenji, 31/08/2021 10:35

"@ Suoerbird70...never mind sandstorms...I'd be more concerned by either rockets or drones in Qatar!! The dreaded ISIS are back on the prowl."

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by Superbird70, 30/08/2021 23:03

"Yup, at Spa 15 days out every month receive precipitation. Chances are this is going to happen again. Time to start panning for contingencies. Sandstorms in Bahrain anyone?"

Rating: Positive (1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

5. Posted by Mad Matt, 30/08/2021 11:53

"Got to agree with Kenji on this. Weather in Belgium has been somewhat strange this year, heavy snow in April, sudden downpours leading to flooding a few weeks ago... On top of which he's right that the weather can change very quickly and be different from one valley to the next, or one end of a valley to the other...."

Rating: Positive (3)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

6. Posted by kenji, 30/08/2021 11:21

"@ Cobra driver...Your argument is weak. If you've raced at Spa then you'd know exactly what I said was true in regards to visibilty. If you'd been watching you would've seen the images so how can you possibly argue. It's my firm belief that Michael Masi and his team did their very best to ensure that the safety of the drivers was paramount and the need to fulfil the legal and contractual obligations of the race directors et al. With all respect I would place my trust in Michael Masi to adjudicate than an anonymous poster who feels as though he's better able/informed and qualified to navigate the plethora of rules and regs governing these very scenarios. Whether or not there should've been a 'podium' is an entirely different matter, but I must say, IMO it was a hollow event."

Rating: Positive (4)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

7. Posted by Cobra Driver, 30/08/2021 10:47

"Kenji.....Are you really that naive? Just re-examine the inconsistent decisions that were made by the stewards. What part of "money" don't you understand? And please do not lecture me about Spa, I have raced there on more than one occasion."

Rating: Negative (-2)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

8. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 30/08/2021 9:28

"I always thought that a half of a race distance had to be covered before half points were awarded and then full points were issued only after two thirds distance, or something like that.

Lets hope for better weather next weekend."

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9. Posted by Pavlo, 30/08/2021 6:27

"Agree with Kenji, there were chances. However, saying that they did 2 laps "to see what the conditions were like" is a bit of a nonsense. It was quite obvious what are the conditions without running 20 cars there. Add to that the radio we heard, it was quite clear that they did minimum required for a race."

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10. Posted by kenji, 30/08/2021 2:29

"@ Cobra Driver...obviously you are not a long time follower of F1 but if you are then your comments are even further off line! I have been watching Spa for a lifetime and what i've learn't is that it is unique with weather patterns that can totally diverse in application and effect. Consider this...race cannot start due to unsafe weather conditions, with visibility being virtually non existent. Decision taken to cancel and then a short time later the weather clears and the sun comes out on a quickly drying track! It can literally do this ,as witnessed many times. I have even seen times when it is raining on one part of the circuit and bone dry on the opposite side! Imagine the resultant outrage if this very scenario had occurred yesterday? To blame Michael Masi and the team is without merit."

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11. Posted by Cobra Driver, 29/08/2021 20:52

"I have personally been involved in some massive screw-ups with CASC and SCCA, but I have never seen anything like today's farce. We all saw the weather patterns just about the time the race was scheduled to start. It should have been cancelled at that time. F1 is supposed to be the premiere auto racing organization on the globe. Sure didn't live up to its' billing today, and all for the sake of money. Masi and his henchmen should be gone.
"

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12. Posted by Burton, 29/08/2021 20:33

"Bull manure, if they could make it up as they went along with the race hour-window pause because of "force majeure", they could have cancelled or delayed the race. If this was the championship decider there's absolutely no way they would pulled this stupid thing off."

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13. Posted by Bill Hopgood, 29/08/2021 19:21

"If the race was postponed to Monday, then all the officials and volunteers would need to stick around a day longer, which is not possible for everyone.

Maybe, races such as this at this time of the year should be set down for a Monday reserve day by default?

Then again, this situation does not happen that often."

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