Belgian Grand Prix 2021 - Lewis Hamilton labels race 'a farce' and claims 'money talks' after rain forces abandonment
Half points were awarded based on the qualifying order with drivers unable to race competitiviely at the Spa-Francorchamps track. Two attempts were made to start the race but only laps behind a safety car were completed in Belgium. Max Verstappen was declared the winner with Hamilton third, behind Williams' George Russell, who secured his first career podium.
Mercedes' British driver Lewis Hamilton speaks with a staff member on the starting grid before the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Spa on August 29, 2021.
Half-points were nevertheless awarded, with Max Verstappen therefore taking victory from pole.
Hamilton accused organisers of sending the drivers out in unsafe conditions solely to enable an official result, putting finances ahead of fans.
"Money talks," said the Mercedes driver to Sky Sports.
"It was literally the two laps to start the race. The sport made a bad choice today."
The seven-time world champion Hamilton added on Instagram: "There was no moment today when we would have been able to race.
"We should have called it quits, not risked drivers and most importantly refunded fans who are the heart of our sport."
The race had initially been delayed by half an hour before a first attempt to begin behind the safety car was also abandoned as the track became too wet.
After a delay of close to three hours, the drivers again followed the safety car around the circuit, but were called back in after less than three full laps.
However Formula 1 regulations state that half points can be awarded after two laps, allowing Verstappen to take a victory of sorts.
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Hamilton's compatriot George Russell thus also secured a first podium in his Williams after a fine qualifying performance.
Yet the decision to restart the race after the delay has been heavily criticised, with two-time world champion Fernando Alonso declaring the situation "shocking" and Sebastian Vettel adding that it felt "really odd" to receive points for an uncompetitive race.
"You couldn't see even five metres in front of you on the straight," explained Hamilton.
"I really hope the fans get their money back. They knew at the end that the track wasn't any better and they did it just so they could do two laps and declare a race."
Race director Michael Masi defended the decisions made, with governing body FIA also rejected Hamilton's claims.
Masi claimed that drivers were asked to restart to gauge current track conditions in an attempt to get as full a race as possible on.
"There was a weather band where we thought we could get some racing in," said Masi. "The weather deteriorated so rapidly that we couldn't."
The Formula One rolling circus next hops over the Benelux border into the Netherlands for the Dutch Grand Prix next weekend.
The Zandvoort track returns to the calendar for the first time since 1985, with home favourite Verstappen now just eight points behind Hamilton at the top of the Drivers' Championship standings.