Verstappen closes the gap to Hamilton as Belgian Grand Prix ruined by rain

By Sports Desk August 29, 2021

The Belgian Grand Prix was called off at a rain-soaked Spa after just two laps, though that was still enough racing for Max Verstappen to claim a victory that cuts Lewis Hamilton's championship lead.

Heavy downpours ruined Formula One's return after the mid-season break, with the start delayed by over three hours after Sergio Perez had crashed while making his way out onto the grid.

Eventually the cars did get out onto the track with the plan to stage a one-hour race amid time constraints, only for the red flag to again be waved after the field had tip-toed around behind the safety car.

However, having managed to successfully get around the circuit twice, a final result was declared with half points awarded.

Having claimed pole position in qualifying on Saturday, Verstappen was awarded the victory, his sixth of a hugely impressive 2021 campaign for Red Bull.

Hamilton, meanwhile, had to settle for third place, behind fellow Briton George Russell. It means the reigning world champion leads the driver standings by just three points with 10 rounds to go.

"It's a win but not how you want to win. Today a big credit goes to all the fans around the track for staying here the whole day in the rain, the cold, windy conditions. They are actually the bigger winners today," Verstappen said.

Racing had already been pushed back from the scheduled start of 15:00 local time (14:00 BST) when Perez provided a further complication. The Red Bull driver lost control in the tricky conditions and skidded into a barrier. Unable to reverse out, he climbed out and appeared set to be out of the race.

But, with his team having time to work on the damage amid the lengthy stoppage, the Mexican was cleared by race director Michael Masi to resume from the pit lane.

In the end, the entire grid returned from the pits behind the safety car to try and get under way, only for the red flag to be waved again. Not long after, it was confirmed racing had been stopped, bringing a rather damp and disappointing end to proceedings.

 

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    Having been fastest in qualifying but handed a 10-place grid penalty due to his engine change, Hamilton saw team-mate Bottas start in first place.

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    Hamilton's decision to hold off pitting in the wet conditions was what prompted debate between driver and the Mercedes pit wall.

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    WHAT TO EXPECT IN USA

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    Qualifying key - The past 10 winners of the United States Grand Prix came from the first row of the grid - six from pole position and four from second place.

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    Bottas barrier – The Finn is looking to get a pole position and race win double in consecutive grands prix, a feat he has never achieved before. He did get pole and win the race at the 2019 edition of this event. 

    Mercedes mark – The team have six poles in their last six races in the United States and another here would see them equal Ferrari on seven poles in the country. Only Lotus (10) have recorded more than Ferrari.

    Austin aces – Mercedes have had a podium finisher in each of the last six USA races, winning five of those events and finishing with a one-two in four of them, including the last one in 2019.
     

    CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS

    Drivers

    1. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 262.5
    2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 256.5
    3. Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) 177
    4. Lando Norris (McLaren) 145
    5. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 135

    Constructors

    1. Mercedes 433.5
    2. Red Bull 397.5
    3. McLaren 240
    4. Ferrari 232.5
    5. Alpine 104

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