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F1 history made as half-points awarded for rain-hit Belgian GP, Verstappen takes victory

F1 history made as half-points awarded for rain-hit Belgian GP, Verstappen takes victory

F1 News

F1 history made as half-points awarded for rain-hit Belgian GP, Verstappen takes victory

F1 history made as half-points awarded for rain-hit Belgian GP, Verstappen takes victory

Torrential rain led to F1 history being made in the Belgian Grand Prix.

For only the sixth time since the series began in 1950, half points were awarded as the race at Spa-Francorchamps was ultimately beaten by the weather, with a halt being called at 6.44pm local time [5.44pm BST].

It meant that Red Bull's Max Verstappen was handed victory, taking 12 and a half points rather than the usual 25, with Williams' George Russell collecting nine for second place - his maiden podium and the team's first since 2017 - and Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton seven and a half for third.

It means Verstappen heads into his home race next weekend in the Netherlands, as Zandvoort stages F1 racing for the first time since 1985, three points behind Hamilton in the battle for the drivers' title.

It was the most extraordinary of circumstances at the venerable circuit as the rain refused to relent at any stage throughout the day at the end of which, Verstappen claimed his 16th race victory.

The event had started badly for Red Bull as on the parade lap the treacherous conditions accounted for Sergio Perez.

The Mexican had been due to start from seventh on the grid but through Les Combes Perez aquaplaned off a kerb, sending him ploughing nose-first into a tyre barrier. At that stage, Perez was out of the race

As heavy rain continued to fall, the formation lap was delayed by a total of 25 minutes before the field set off behind the safety car for what proved to be two laps before FIA race director Michael Masi suspended the start procedure and red-flagged the event.

As the clock ticked, as the three hours for an allotted event had started at 3pm local time [2pm BST], Red Bull enquired as to whether Perez would be allowed to take part as the race had not officially started.

Despite initially saying 'no', Masi then consulted with his stewards, with a ruling made the Mexican could restart from the pitlane.

The Red Bull mechanics performed a remarkable job in repairing the suspension on the RB16B, and other components, that at least allowed Perez the opportunity to get back out on track.

As the rain fell and the delay continued, the stewards then bought themselves some time, citing force majeure to stop the clock on the event with an hour remaining.

During the hiatus, drivers and team members did what they could to kill the boredom, with Daniel Ricciardo notably leading the fans in the grandstand opposite the pit wall in a Mexican wave.

A group of stewards were even caught playing boules in a gravel trap.

Following numerous weather updates and several laps of the track in the medical car by Alan van der Merwe, at 5.07pm BST, the FIA announced the race would resume at 5.17pm - a delay of almost three hours from when the event was red flagged.

Behind the safety car, it appeared as if the conditions were worse than previously.

After two laps were completed to ensure half points could be awarded, the race was red-flagged for a second time.

Just 20 minutes later, the FIA took the decision to bring the event to a halt.

Behind the top three, McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo finished fourth ahead of Aston Martin's Sebastian Vettel, with AlphaTauri's Pierre Gasly sixth, followed by Alpine's Esteban Ocon, with Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz then sandwiching Williams' Nicholas Latifi to round out the top 10.

In the constructors' championship, Mercedes lead over Red Bull has been cut from 12 points to seven.

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