Farce, shame, ridicule, everything has already been heard and read about what happened on Sunday in Spa-Francorchamps. After epic deeds of qualifying, the Belgian Grand Prix comes to the fore not for the speed and courage on the legendary corners of Eau Rouge and Pouhon, but for the sea of controversy that the water of the Ardennes rain has infinitely filled. However, there are some particular aspects on which it is worthwhile reflect further. The Grand Prix at the end there wasn’t, even if there was a podium and half of the available points were awarded without running a race. The Federation apologized to the fans talking about “the impossibility of racing given the weather conditions”, trying to shift attention on a “politically correct” theme (security), to distract it from real problem of what happened in Spa. In fact, no one can criticize the decision not to have the race run due to the weather conditions. There safety it is rightly in first place and Formula 1 needs races, battles, overtaking, but certainly not tragedies. There is also a lot of rumor that Formula 1 needs clear rules. Well in this case the rules were clear and how, but come on control room they have been declined and interpreted to reach a result that in the end has dissatisfied practically everyone.
Let’s start fromhours. The rule of the maximum duration of 3 hours for a race it is a lot clear and simple and was introduced to standardize ab origin situations of major force like this one, in order to avoid any use instrumental start and end sessions (as well as practical reasons such as planning of television coverage). Furthermore, until last year, the same rule provided that the maximum duration was 4 hours, shortened to 3 right from 2021. As far as we know, the 3-hour chronometer was stopped with a regulatory grip of the international code of dubious application, with an evident attempt to “stretch” the regulatory terms in order to add one hour to the time limit. As much as this goes in the direction of fans in the stands or at home, who pay to watch them run, these situations lead to potential sports injustices. It did not happen yesterday, but for example a track that dries up after the time limit and allows you to race will bring a result, which, if the rule had been respected, would not have existed. It is to be imagined (and to be hoped) that Masi had the support of all teams for such a move, but then one wonders: what is the point of setting a rule and even taking care to reduce the time available if then, at the first opportunity in which it must be asserted, do you go to look for any trick to circumvent it?
Assuming, however, that this aspect is resolved by the unanimity of the agreement between the teams and the Federation, what happened at 6:17 pm leaves arguments well more serious to think about. Does not exist any rule within the sporting regulations in which it is declared that in case the race is not disputed the result of the qualifications. It is a regulatory principle that simply does not exist and has never been introduced. The reasons can be the most varied, but the race director it shouldn’t be able to make such a decision unilaterally, inventing a theater circumventing regulations (the same ones he should be there to enforce) in order to have a podium to show to sponsors and not to have to refund tickets of the public. Yesterday Masi decided independently that, from now on, if the race is not open, it is necessary to take the classification of the qualification and assign half scores based on it. One wonders if a much more linear behavior would not have been that of cancel the ride entirely, then convene the teams and discuss potentially similar situations for the future, proposing to add the same rule explicitly. That way if the track is flooded with water there will no longer be a need to send the drivers two laps behind the Safety Car, and all the teams will be able to do conscious choices on how to face the qualification knowing that it could also be used as the final classification. But no, two laps behind the Safety Car and then a red flag. The prolonged time gave 40 more minutes about available, but the aforementioned “theater” has been staged without even dissembling, perhaps doing many more laps behind the Safety Car (among other things, since the tickets were no longer refundable, at least the fans would have seen their favorites pass a few more times) and who knows that after half an hour behind the safety maybe one or two laps could not escape us. But at least the race direction could have said that they “did everything possible”, and above all there would have been less arrogance. Yes, because, speaking very clearly, that of having two laps of the race neutralized in such a clear way, by the way without even warning the pilots that that was the intention (from the radio teams it is perceived that the pilots were not sure if the race would start or not) means making fun of both the drivers and the fans, at home and on the track, who have been waiting for hours for something to happen, in a manner blatant, showing a certain amount of cheekiness that at least amazes.
When he had to choose whether to start the race or not, the referee was certainly in a position very difficult. There responsibility of 20 boys running at 300 and passing the hour on a flooded track we can not imagine and the caution is absolutely understandable. If the race had simply been canceled, no one would have had anything to say and Masi would have had a huge umbrella of excuses ready under which to shelter from any attack. These are the next steps that leave you almost stunned. Brave? Surely. Correct? It does not seem. Masi has launched the message to the world that whoever is in the control room decides and everyone can only adapt, and teams and pilots obeyed. From this point of view it must be said that the teams, which usually make the big voice, in the face of money immediately adapted without a shot being fired, and one can only agree with those who spoke this morning about a deafening silence of the Association (if it still exists) Pilots, busy playing on their mobile phones all the time instead of meeting to discuss how to manage situation from their point of view, as it once did.
A bad page of Formula 1, which the rain will not wash away easily, but which, hopefully, will be attenuated with the restarting of the engines already on Friday, one of the few real advantages of such a compressed calendar.
FP | Federico Albano
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