until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

Belgian GP F1 fans get compensation – but is it enough?

by Scott Mitchell-Malm
3 min read

Ticket holders for the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix have received a reconciliatory offer but no refund for the Sunday at Spa that featured no Formula 1 racing.

On a badly rain-affected day at Spa, only three laps were completed – all behind the safety car – after three hours’ worth of red flags.

Yet a result was declared, half points were still awarded and a podium ceremony was held.

All that materialised after the lengthy delays was a brief ‘race restart’ in which the field completed the required number of laps behind the safety car to allow points to be awarded.

That led to suggestions that enough was staged just to get an official race result to satisfy contracts with the promoter and television broadcasters.

F1 stakeholders were adamant at the time that there was no commercial influence on the way the event was run but promised discussions with the promoter about compensating fans.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Belgian Grand Prix Race Day Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

Lewis Hamilton was among those to call for a full refund but this has not materialised, nor has a discount for 2022 tickets.

Instead, Sunday ticket holders can enter into a prize draw for 170 tickets for next year’s race: 100 silver grandstand seats for bronze ticket holders this year, 50 gold grandstand seats for silver ticket holders this year, and 20 VIP seats for gold ticket holders this year.

They have also been offered a free personal invitation to an exclusive event on Thursday at Spa next year, subject to the COVID-19 pandemic, and one F1TV pass per ticket holder.

The Race Says

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Belgian Grand Prix Race Day Spa Francorchamps, Belgium

While many called for a refund and it was the honourable solution, it never seemed likely because this responsibility was immediately shifted onto the circuit – which would almost certainly not be able to handle that, especially during a pandemic.

And as the Formula 3 and Porsche Supercup races went ahead and an F1 ‘race’ happened according to the results, there appeared to be no legal grounds for a refund even if that conclusion is the most miserly possible.

This is an offer that satisfies F1’s commitment to doing something. But it shows it was not willing to take a meaningful hit to ‘do the right thing’.

So what happens next? Well, hopefully, there is never scope for a repeat. The very least F1 can do from here is do a better job of ensuring that.

Those support races could have been moved or scrapped to bring the grand prix forward into a time slot that would have allowed racing to take place, assuming all relevant stakeholders (like the broadcasters) would agree.

Something similar happened in Russia, where the support timetable was altered across Friday evening and Saturday morning because of predicted heavy rain in a bid to protect F1 qualifying.

Motor Racing Formula One World Championship Russian Grand Prix Qualifying Day Sochi, Russia

This action was a clear example of F1 and the FIA ensuring it has a better contingency plan in such situations.

The next step is to ensure a farcical ‘result’ cannot be declared again. The F1 Commission and FIA World Motor Sport Council were meant to have looked into this but we’re still awaiting news.

Now we know there is no satisfactory compensation, altering the regulations is the bare minimum.

While F1 and Spa can give their reasons for avoiding more generous recompense, there is no excuse for allowing a repeat.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks