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Verstappen: F1 should start races earlier after long wait at Spa

Max Verstappen believes Formula 1 should start races earlier to reduce the risk of rain shortening the grand prix after Sunday’s two-lap Belgian Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B, George Russell, Williams FW43B, and Sir Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes W12

Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Verstappen was declared the winner of the race at Spa-Francorchamps following almost three hours of delays because of heavy rain, limiting the field to completing just two full laps behind the safety car that counted towards the race.

By meeting the minimum two-lap distance requirement for a grand prix, half points could be awarded, with Verstappen scoring 12.5 points for victory.

The result meant he cut Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton’s lead at the top of the drivers’ standings down to three points ahead of the Dutch Grand Prix this weekend.

Verstappen said after the race that it was “not how you want to win” amid criticism against officials for only meeting the minimum distance for it to count as a race.

Bosses from the FIA and F1 are set to review Sunday’s events in the coming weeks, with one question being whether the race could have been started had it been brought forward from its 3pm slot at Spa.

It was something Verstappen questioned in the aftermath of his victory, pondering if an earlier start time would have given more of a window in which to get a race completed.

“When you start at 3 o’clock, and you have days like this, maybe it’s better to start a bit earlier, at 12 or 1 o’clock,” Verstappen said.

“I think that’s a better time anyway to start, for me. Now it’s just dragging on and on and the weather just gets worse and worse. It gets dark.”

The Safety Car Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

The Safety Car Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Photo by: Jerry Andre / Motorsport Images

Races in mainland Europe traditionally start at 3pm local time on Sundays, having been pushed back by an hour a couple of years ago.

While any start time would still be subject to F1’s three-hour event length rule, it is possible for the stewards to freeze the clock under force majeure, as seen on Sunday when it was stopped with 60 minutes remaining.

Fans were left disappointed by the lack of a race on Sunday after braving the wet weather and cold conditions for a number of hours, with Hamilton calling for them to have their tickets refunded.

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Verstappen was sceptical that it would have been possible to rearrange the Spa race for another time this year to give the fans a race.

“We already do too many races, so we should pick the proper tracks, of course, first of all, the good ones,” Verstappen said.

“To come back again here [this year], I don’t see that happening, especially when you already have 22 races.”

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