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Start of Belgian GP suspended because of heavy rainfall

A red flag came out shortly after 3:30 p.m. local time (1330 GMT) following a formation lap and no new start time was immediately given.

AP AP
SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium Published on: August 29, 2021 20:56 IST
Spectators wait under an overhang during a rain delay at
Image Source : AP

Spectators wait under an overhang during a rain delay at the Formula One Grand Prix at the Spa-Francorchamps racetrack in Spa, Belgium, Sunday, Aug. 29

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

A red flag came out shortly after 3:30 p.m. local time (1330 GMT) 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 appeared to be 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 and later announced Perez would be allowed to start from the pit lane.

At 5 p.m. the race was delayed again.

McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo entertained the fans waiting in the grandstand from the pit lane. In his 200th F1 race, the popular Australian made extravagant hand gestures and waved to them as they chanted “Daniel, Daniel.”

“I obviously feel for them," Ricciardo said. "We're in it together but circumstances are out of our control.”

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