Yesterday’s Belgian Grand Prix at the famous Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps suffered numerous delays due to adverse weather conditions and poor visibility. After hours of waiting in the rain, the cars were sent out for a brief stint behind the safety car before the race was red flagged once again not to be continued.
Fans and drivers alike have been critical of the event, suggesting the short stint took place only to officially deem the event a race and fulfil Formula 1’s commercial agreements.
Domenicali has denied that commercial pressure was a factor in the decision to start the race.
“That’s why, when I hear that there was some commercial discussion behind that, it’s totally not true, because when we’re talking about racing, there is responsibility, that is a clear process, and those things are not connected at all.” Domenicali said.
When quizzed if F1 would have received it’s full sanctioning fee had a race not went ahead, he said: “Absolutely. That’s why I said to consider that as something related to a commercial implication is wrong.”
World champion Lewis Hamilton was amongst the drivers to express his disappointment in the running of the event with fans left waiting for hours in the heavy rain, but Domenicali defended the decisions of race director Micheal Masi, saying:
“For the people, of course, it’s a shame, because it’s something that everyone wants to see, a proper race, but I think that the decisions taken by race control are absolutely correct.
“There was the wish and the will to do the race. And as soon as there was information, I was following what was the situation there, there was a window of possible weather improvement to try to do the race.
“Then as soon as they restarted, the comments were pretty clear, and on the another side another weather forecast received, not possible. Despite the disappointment for everyone, I think in terms of management, it was the right thing to do.”
When asked if he had a message for the fans who had attended the event, he said: “The message is clear, that unfortunately we don’t control the time. Two laps or no laps, the spend was there.
“So, it’s not a problem of laps. It was the point of trying to do the race. I think on that, race control tried to do the maximum to do it. So as I said, it’s not a problem of laps or no laps, it’s really unfortunate conditions.
“You need to consider safety for everyone, and that’s very very important. As I said, the first to be disappointed is me, because I love racing, but there are always conditions where you cannot do it.”
Outspoken Lewis Hamilton suggested refunds should be issued to the disappointed attendees, Domenicali said:
“It’s something that [we can discuss] together with the organiser, we are not the ones that are putting [out] the tickets. Some sign of attention could be done, so it’s something that as a gesture of attention, in terms of what will be the right reward in this condition.
“Unfortunately the race is not there. You can pay the ticket and it is what it is. At the end of the day, for sure, the organiser, together with us, will consider the attention, the maximum attention to the fans, that’s for sure.”
He continued: “I think there will be ideas that they already are thinking [about], considering what has happened this year.”
Domenicali also discussed the suggestion that the race could be run on a Monday, an idea which he deemed impossible.
“Not for logistical, for a lot of reasons, you cannot schedule the race the day after for many things, related to availability of marshals, availability of other stuff.
“That was considered, of course, but it’s not possible. With the promoters, everything is very close, they followed the decision process, so they are not out of that.”