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Bernie Ecclestone

Ecclestone: Fans should get their money back after Spa 'disaster'

Former F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone believes the sport should refund attending fans at the Belgian Grand Prix, after what he deemed a transparent attempt from officials to fulfil the definition of a race.

Verstappen rain spa safety car
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To news overview © Red Bull Contentpool

Bernie Ecclestone has called upon Liberty Media to refund fans who were left standing around in the rain for hours to watch a Belgian Grand Prix that didn't really happen.

With conditions deemed unsafe for racing throughout the entirety of Sunday afternoon, the drivers only managed a handful of laps behind the Safety Car, which were used to reach the minimum number of laps required to declare a result and fulfil the definition of a race going ahead.

On Sunday night, Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali refuted the possibility of refunds for fans at the race. But Ecclestone, the former ringmaster of Formula 1 pre-Liberty Media, said that there wasn't really a race.

"With the money that the rights holders earned from their two unfair laps, they should compensate the fans who stayed in the rain for ten hours. There would still be enough profit left," Ecclestone told F1-Insider.com.

"It was a disaster. You have no influence on the weather, how you deal with it, but you do. You could tell that nobody wanted to take responsibility and make decisions. So they flew like in a weightless space. And in the end they did everything wrong together."

Ecclestone revealed that, in his opinion, the decision to do two laps under the Safety Car late in the evening proved that there had been a commercial decision taken to ensure legal requirements were met.

"There are contracts. By starting the race and completing their two minimum laps for a result, their contract is fulfilled. The organiser is therefore obliged to pay the rights holder," he said.

Ecclestone explained what would have happened had he been in a position to make decisions over how to approach the race at Spa-Francorchamps, saying that he would have ensured, at least, the drivers were on track for much longer.

"I [would] do a lot more laps behind the Safety Car. On the one hand, to really hope that the weather will improve and that the track will dry off," he said.

"Second, so that you don't look like you are now. Because it couldn't be more revealing than stopping after exactly two laps. Now everyone knows that it was only for commercial reasons."

But the 90-year-old did agree with one decision that was made, and that was to award points to the drivers after classifying a result. He believed that the qualifying session was sufficient grounds to hand out the half points, and make a difference in the championship.

"Max Verstappen, George Russell and all the others risked their bums in qualifying and did a fantastic job," he said.

"It is therefore only right that it should be appreciated. Perhaps one should think more about distributing points in qualifying than before."

Also interesting:

F1 Podcast: Lessons to learn for F1 after Spa-Francorchamps disaster

It's time for the latest episode of our new Formula 1 podcast, with F1 journalists Dieter Rencken, Thomas Maher and Mike Seymour discussing the disastrous Belgian Grand Prix...

F1 2021 Belgian Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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