Verstappen takes win, Russell first podium in rain-hit Belgian Grand Prix
Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was declared the winner of a Belgian Grand Prix that lasted two laps behind the safety car.
Heavy rain prevented any competitive racing at the Spa-Francorchamps track.
The start was delayed by half an hour before two attempts were made to start the race – with a gap of nearly three hours between them.
But conditions were deemed too dangerous and the red flag was flown after two and a half laps behind the safety car.
The result was therefore declared from the grid order, with Verstappen ahead of Williams driver George Russell and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton.
Two laps were enough to award half points, according to the regulations, so Verstappen has cut Hamilton’s championship lead to three points.
And Russell has achieved his first podium finish, thanks to a qualifying lap in the wet on Saturday that will go down as one of the greatest in F1 history.
Russell, 23, said: “We don’t often get rewarded for great qualifyings, but we absolutely did today.
“It was a shame we did not get the race underway but, from my side, and the team’s side it’s an amazing result.
“The whole team deserve it because there has been so much hard work going into work over the last few years and there has been nothing to show for it, but we absolutely nailed it yesterday.”
History, of a sort
The race will have its own place in history as the only F1 grand prix to involve no racing.
The initial start was delayed before the cars followed the safety car briefly – only for the track to be declared too wet.
Then there was a delay of nearly three hours before the cars again followed the safety car out of the pit lane at 18:17 local time, only to return three laps later.
Verstappen said: “Now, in hindsight, it was very important to get that pole position. It’s a shame to not get proper laps, but the conditions were very tricky.
“At 3.30pm the conditions were decent but the visibility was very low. I think if we’d started at 3pm we would have had a decent chance.
“Big credit to the fans for staying here all day.”
Hamilton added: “They knew, at the end, the track wasn’t any better and they did it just so they could do two laps and declare a race. I really hope the fans get their money back.
“You couldn’t see even five metres in front of you on the straight. You couldn’t even see the flashing light in front of you.”
F1 is back next week for the second of Verstappen’s home races as Zandvoort makes its long-awaited return to the F1 calendar – with thousands of fans expected to grace the beach-side circuit. The title battle continues on September 03-05, Hamilton leading the championship by three points over the Dutchman. (BBC)