‘We did the best we could but the weather got the better of us’ says Masi after red-flagged Belgian GP
After a rain-delayed Belgian Grand Prix that lasted just a handful of laps behind the Safety Car, FIA Race Director Michael Masi said he and his team tried everything to get the race running, but that ultimately the weather had simply "got the better of us".
Amid torrential downpours, the Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps eventually became the shortest in F1 history. The scheduled start at 1500 local time was delayed 25 minutes. There followed a brace of formation laps before hours of delays, before the drivers went out again to brave the conditions behind the Safety Car. But they retreated swiftly as the race was red-flagged for the last time, with half-points awarded to the top 10 after just a handful of laps run.
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Masi said: “It has been a long old day. Actually, we’ve seen the worst of the weather today, the conditions have not been great all weekend, we’ve had patches [where] we could get activity done – but today I think the weather got a bit of the better of us.”
As to why the drivers were brought out for a final few laps behind the Safety Car in the early evening before the race was called off, Masi said there was a slight break in conditions that might have made a race possible.
“It was to see what the conditions were like,” he said. “We’re in constant contact with our official weather provider and there was a window where it looked like it was provided there, we have the requirement to give a 10-minute warning to everyone, so it was like ‘OK let’s try and see if we can find that window’ and a number of teams have said the same thing.
“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 and got the better of us again."
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Asked if it would have been possible to move the Grand Prix to Monday, Masi said: “There’s no ability to postpone the race until tomorrow. So, obviously from the FIA perspective and jointly with Formula 1, safety is paramount for drivers, the teams, and all of the spectators.
“We gave every available opportunity within the rulebook, within the provisions of the international sporting code... to give us the best opportunity to be able to complete a race. And so, you know, unfortunately on this occasion we could not go the full distance that was available but with the provisions and the ISC [international sporting code] to stop the clock was what we tried to do to see if we could get ourselves in that weather window of some activity.
“No it’s obviously disappointing for everyone involved that we couldn’t get the full distance. We did the best that we all possibly could to give us all the opportunity… but at least we got something in,” he concluded.
A statement from Formula 1 released after the red flag echoed Masi's thoughts, reiterating that safety is always the priority.
It read: "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."