Overflowing Spa: Verstappen wins cancelled Belgian Grand Prix

The Belgian Grand Prix has been called off and Max Verstappen classified the winner after heavy rain prevented the race from getting underway in the first place.

This article originally appeared in The Phuket News.

Inclement weather had affected the entire weekend, with qualifying on Saturday afternoon delayed by more than an hour for rain-related red flags, including a heavy crash for Lando Norris, but the deluge had intensified in the hours before lights-out.

The rain was so heavy that Sergio Perez crashed on his way to the grid and couldn’t restart his car, and race control made the decision to suspend the race start after a pair of formation laps behind the safety car showed visibility to be too poor to race.

Drivers were directed back to the pit lane in anticipation of a restart if the weather were to clear, and after 197 minutes the race director attempted to start the race behind the safety car, but after two more laps with no sign of improvement, there was little option but to recall the cars once more.

Around half an hour later, with no sign of improvement on the radar and with only 30 minutes still to run before the maximum race time would be consumed, the grand prix was declared and Max Verstappen handed the winners trophy.

The top 10 was awarded half points for meeting the minimum required two laps for a grand prix but failing to race to 75 per cent distance, cutting Verstappen’s championship deficit to Lewis Hamilton from eight points to three.

Mercedes’s constructors lead was cut from 12 points to seven.

George Russell finished second for his maiden Formula 1 podium ahead of Hamilton.

Daniel Ricciardo was classified fourth ahead of Sebastian Vettel, Pierre Gasly, Esteban Ocon, Charles Leclerc, Nicholas Latifi and Carlos Sainz, completing the top 10.

Formula 1 returns with the Dutch Grand Prix on 5 September.