Sebastian Vettel admitted the FIA had to make some tough decisions during Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, and ultimately it meant a few laps behind the safety car being called a race as heavy rain made it impossible to run at full speed.
The Aston Martin Cognizant Formula One Team racer finished fifth and scored five points towards the Drivers’ Championship at Spa-Francorchamps, with half points being awarded due to the race not going to at least seventy-five per cent of its scheduled distance.
Vettel said the decisions made by the FIA were probably the right ones as track conditions made for difficult and potentially dangerous running, with the spray and aquaplaning in particular being carefully observed by Michael Masi and his stewards.
“I think it is a frustrating day for all of us and an anti-climax, especially for the fans, who were outside in the wet and the cold all day waiting to see a race,” said Vettel. “I feel sorry we could not give them the entertainment they deserved to see.
“The rain just never stopped and, when we did go out, the spray was very bad with low visibility. The FIA had to make some tough decisions today. It is not easy for them, but safety has to be the priority, and even though their decisions may not have been popular they were probably the right ones.”
“Visibility out on track was really bad” – Lance Stroll
Team-mate Lance Stroll started at the back of the field following a penalty, and although he finished eighteenth as those who started from the pit lane – Kimi Räikkönen and Sergio Pérez – dropped in behind him, he was handed a time penalty post-race to drop him to twentieth.
The Canadian was handed a penalty after his team changed his rear wing assembly during the extended red flag period but did not replace it with a rear wing of the same specification. He was referred to the stewards, with a penalty then handed out.
At the back of the pack, Stroll admitted visibility behind the other cars was ‘really bad’, so it came as no surprise that racing was suspended and ultimately curtailed due to the weather conditions at Spa-Francorchamps.
“It is a real shame for the fans today,” said Stroll. “I am sorry they waited all afternoon for a race that ended in the sad way it did. We cannot control the weather and safety must come first.
“It is a tough decision for the FIA and Formula 1 to make, but it was the right one. Visibility out on track was really bad. It is not a nice feeling to be on sections like the Kemmel Straight, where it is so fast, and you cannot see in front of you because of the spray.
“I would have loved to try and fight my way back up the grid today; I felt confident we could make good progress, but it is over now and we will focus on next weekend’s race at Zandvoort.”