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Rain, but No Reign in Belgium (Formula 1)

Formula 1 Belgium
Source: OOPR.

Many people are tired of hearing such phrase, but everything happens for a reason. Those reasons are often times beyond our control, and the wonderful folks at Formula 1 realized this during their tour in Belgium. While there existed races where slight drizzle/raindrops have occurred, forcing fellow drivers to choose a particular set of tires to coincide with the conditions, it was nothing compared to the "cats and dogs" falling during this day. Despite the heavy delays, and the monitoring of the cloudy fronts, there was a lot riding on the sides of both the race and the scheduled live broadcast on ESPN—especially over here in the US.

Kris, bro, it's just rain. Who cares?

Easy to say, when you're not the one managing, let alone being mindful of the drivers' safety. Reported by Formula 1 themselves, president Jean Todt of Federation Internationale de l'Automobile, or the FIA, said in a statement that the conditions were too dire to even proceed after the safety car laps. This included the visibility among fans in which the water-soaked road conditions made it hard to fully view and watch the race, despite the fans' attendance keeping dry with umbrellas and plastic raincoats. President Todt even apologized for the postponement of the race completely.

The FIA, together with Formula 1 and the teams, will carefully review the regulations to see what can be learned and improved for the future. The findings, including the topic of points allocation, will be added to the agenda of the next F1 Commission meeting on October 5.

Jean Todt

We are now in October 8th, and there hasn't been much word reported in response to the race in Belgium. F1 racer Lewis Hamilton took his frustrations on social media calling that race a "farce[1]." Despite the race being cancelled, it was still a race, according to Todt, and thus points are awarded as such. As a result, that made Max Verstappen, holder of the first position, as the winner. On the fans' side, they wanted to see the full race despite the conditions. Disappointed, both Hamilton and Carlos Sainz asked all fans to be refunded[2]. The league's discussion with ticket holders was posted and mentioned back in September 1, 2021. While the statement came off as "we'll see what we can do," here's a piece from The Sports Grail on How To Request a Refund For Your F1 Ticket[3]:

The Customer Experience Team will handle your refund application and payment. To apply for a Refund, complete the Refund Application Form here[4] as soon as it's known that you cannot attend the booking, and up to 60 days after the booking. If the organizer cancels or postpones your booking is cancelled or postponed [sic], contact the F1 customer service team directly.

Formula 1 Belgium
Formula 1 Belgium wet camera lens
Formula 1 Belgium audience under the rain
Formula 1 Belgium fans
Source: OOPR.

We're not sure why F1 wasn't fully direct in their statement about the demand to refund fans, but apparently, you have to fill out a form about the cancelled event that took place. Are there any fans who received a refund as a result? Occurrences like these really test the business side of sports, and how they welcome and listen to their fans. Because F1 wasn't so urgent in the matter, others have expressed the "it is what it is" and the "they [F1] don't owe you anything" cards, in response to those who have spoken out, as Hamilton and Sainz did. Other leagues are often forgiving about the situation, but I feel F1 could have simplified the matter altogether. Nevertheless, what happened happened, and to see the drivers run through two laps before calling off the race, was sufficient enough. All in all, it looked more like a "car show" than a race, and whether that was enough for fans who attended in person, or watched the race on TV, is up for debate. Me, personally, if a race wasn't completed at least halfway through, I'd err on the side of having a refund; Many will disagree, and I shall accept such differing point of view.

Formula 1 Belgium team member sleeping
Formula 1 Belgium team members on their phones
Source: OOPR.

The weather is cooling down here in the US, specifically Los Angeles, California, but we're not sure how the outlook will be as the season continues. Due to restrictions caused by the pandemic, F1 announced they'll be racing in Qatar, instead of Japan[5], now completing the season for this year.

Formula 1 Belgium brief stint of the race
Source: OOPR.

Quite a muddled predicament, wasn't it? Since we recorded the event ourselves, the live broadcast took close to 4 hours of air time. Last time we watched a sporting game that long was Monday Night Football—American football—between the Baltimore Ravens and the Las Vegas Raiders, a game that went into overtime.

1. GP Fans: Hamilton ramps up Belgian GP criticism by describing non-event a "farce"

2. Formula 1 on Twitter: "An update for our fans following the #BelgianGP"

3. The Sports Grail: F1 Ticket Refund Policy: What Are The General Conditions And Rules For Formula Tickets Refunds?

4. Refundable.me: Refund form

5. NBC Sports: Qatar added to 2021 F1 calendar as replacement for Japan, signs 10-year deal