Formula One: Start of Belgian GP suspended because of heavy rainfall

AP , Sunday 29 Aug 2021

Formula One
Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton of Britain, left, speaks with a member of his crew prior to the Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack in Spa, Belgium, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2021. (AP)

The Belgian Grand Prix was suspended after hours of heavy rainfall made it too risky to start the race on time Sunday.

A red flag came out shortly after 3:30 p.m. following a formation lap and no new start time was immediately given.

The 7-kilometer (4.3-mile) Spa-Francorchamps circuit was totally drenched for the scheduled 3 p.m. start, which was twice pushed back to 3:25 p.m.

Soaked fans huddled under large umbrellas on muddy banks as they waited for the worst of the rain to pass. The thick clouds and mist hanging over the Ardennes forest also gave the circuit a daunting look and made for poor visibility.

When the drivers embarked on their formation laps, several complained.

“I really can’t see anything,” said Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

The decision to suspend the start was made a few moments later.

“It’s wet, but I think it’s fine to race,” said Red Bull's Max Verstappen who is starting from pole position.

But his teammate Sergio Perez was out of the race before it even started, sliding off the track during the warmup lap at around 2:30 p.m. and damaging his front suspension.

Red Bull asked the FIA's race control if Perez could start the race if they repaired his car in time. The FIA said it was considering the request.

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