F1 CEO Domenicali: No commercial pressure to start Belgian GP

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali has denied that there were any commercial considerations behind the decision to ensure that the Belgian GP was officially deemed a race.

F1 CEO Domenicali: No commercial pressure to start Belgian GP

After a long delay due to the wet conditions the event eventually started behind the safety car, but it was then stopped after just three laps. That was enough to ensure that half World Championship points could be awarded to the top 10.

Some observers have suggested that F1 wanted the race to officially start in order to ensure that the commercial deal with the Spa promoter was fulfilled, and thus the full fee paid.

However when asked by Autosport if having no race would have impacted the deal Domenicali denied that that would be the case.

“No, no, at the end of the day,” he said. “That’s why, when I hear that there was some commercial discussion behind that, it’s totally not true, because when we’re talking about racing, there is responsibility, that is a clear process, and those things are not connected at all.”

Asked if F1 would have received its full sanctioning fee without a race he added: “Absolutely. That’s why I said to consider that as something related to a commercial implication is wrong.”

Domenicali said he fully supported the decisions made by FIA race director Michael Masi in waiting for a window in the weather and then stopping the race soon after it had officially started.

“For the people, of course, it’s a shame, because it’s something that everyone wants to see, a proper race,” he said. “But I think that the decisions taken by race control are absolutely correct.

“There was the wish and the will to do the race. And as soon as there was information, I was following what was the situation there, there was a window of possible weather improvement to try to do the race.

“Then as soon as they restarted, the comments were pretty clear, and on the another side another weather forecast received, not possible. Despite the disappointment for everyone, I think in terms of management, it was the right thing to do.”

Asked if he had a message for fans who had paid for tickets he said: “The message is clear, that unfortunately we don’t control the time. Two laps or no laps, the spend was there.

“So, it’s not a problem of laps. It was the point of trying to do the race. I think on that, race control tried to do the maximum to do it. So as I said, it’s not a problem of laps or no laps, it’s really unfortunate conditions.

“You need to consider safety for everyone, and that’s very very important. As I said, the first to be disappointed is me, because I love racing, but there are always conditions where you cannot do it.”

Fans under umbrellas during a red flag period

Fans under umbrellas during a red flag period

Photo by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Lewis Hamilton is among those that called for refunds to be awarded to fans.

"Today was a farce and the only people to lose out are the fans who have paid good money to watch us race," Hamilton posted on social media. 

"Of course you can’t do anything about the weather but we have sophisticated equipment to tell us what’s going on and it was clear the weather wasn’t going to let up. We were sent out for open reason and one reason only.

"Two laps behind the safety car where there is no possibility to gain or lose a place or provide entertainment to fans isn’t racing. We should have just called it quits, not risked the drivers and most importantly refunded the fans who are the heart of our sport."

Domencali suggested that F1 would work with the promoter to see what could be done for disappointed fans. After the 2005 US GP – when Michelin tyre issues meant that just six cars started – fans received refunds, with the tyre company's support.     

“It’s something that [we can discuss] together with the organiser,” said Domencali. “We are not the ones that are putting [out] the tickets. Some sign of attention could be done, so it’s something that as a gesture of attention, in terms of what will be the right reward in this condition.

“Unfortunately the race is not there. You can pay the ticket and it is what it is. At the end of the day, for sure, the organiser, together with us, will consider the attention, the maximum attention to the fans, that’s for sure.”

He added: “I think there will be ideas that they already are thinking [about], considering what has happened this year.”

Domenicali also confirmed that it would have been impossible to run the race on Monday, a practice that is common in US racing when oval events are rained out.

“Not for logistical, for a lot of reasons, you cannot schedule the race the day after for many things, related to availability of marshals, availability of other stuff.

“That was considered, of course, but it’s not possible. With the promoters, everything is very close, they followed the decision process, so they are not out of that.”

shares
comments

Related video

Why one-lap Belgian Grand Prix counted for F1 points
Previous article

Why one-lap Belgian Grand Prix counted for F1 points

Next article

F1 set for talks over rule changes after Belgian GP "farce"

F1 set for talks over rule changes after Belgian GP "farce"
Load comments
The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022 Plus

The Schumacher trait that will give Haas hope in F1 2022

Mick Schumacher’s knack of improving during his second season in a championship was a trademark of his junior formula career, so his progress during his rookie Formula 1 campaign with Haas was encouraging. His target now will be to turn that improvement into results as the team hopes to reap the rewards of sacrificing development in 2021

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push Plus

The “glorified taxi” driver central to F1’s continued safety push

As the driver of Formula 1’s medical car, Alan van der Merwe’s job is to wait – and hope his skills aren’t needed. JAMES NEWBOLD hears from F1’s lesser-known stalwarts

Formula 1
Jan 15, 2022
When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push Plus

When BMW added F1 'rocket fuel' to ignite Brabham's 1983 title push

There was an ace up the sleeve during the 1983 F1 title-winning season of Nelson Piquet and Brabham. It made a frontrunning car invincible for the last three races to see off Renault's Alain Prost and secure the combination's second world title in three years

Formula 1
Jan 13, 2022
How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner Plus

How “abysmal” reliability blunted Brabham’s first winner

Brabham’s first world championship race-winning car was held back by unreliable Climax engines – or so its creators believed, as STUART CODLING explains

Formula 1
Jan 10, 2022
The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021 Plus

The steps Norris took to reach a new level in F1 2021

Lando Norris came of age as a grand prix driver in 2021. McLaren’s young ace is no longer an apprentice or a quietly capable number two – he’s proved himself a potential winner in the top flight and, as STUART CODLING finds out, he’s ready to stake his claim to greatness…

Formula 1
Jan 9, 2022
The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton Plus

The original F1 maestro who set the bar for Schumacher and Hamilton

Juan Manuel Fangio, peerless on track and charming off it, established the gold standard of grand prix greatness. NIGEL ROEBUCK recalls a remarkable champion

Formula 1
Jan 8, 2022
How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam Plus

How Russell sees his place in the Mercedes-Hamilton F1 superteam

George Russell joining Lewis Hamilton at Mercedes this year gives it arguably the best line-up in Formula 1 – if it can avoid too many fireworks. After serving his apprenticeship at Williams, Russell is the man that Mercedes team believes can lead it in the post-Hamilton era, but how will he fare against the seven-time champion? Autosport heard from the man himself

Formula 1
Jan 6, 2022
How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications Plus

How F1 pulled off its second pandemic season and its 2022 implications

OPINION: The Formula 1 season just gone was the second to be completed under the dreaded shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in many ways it was much more ‘normal’ than 2020. Here’s the story of how the championship’s various organisers delivered a second challenging campaign, which offers a glimpse at what may be different next time around

Formula 1
Jan 5, 2022