Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was classified as the winner of the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix, in which torrential rain prevented any racing laps from taking place.

With rain falling all day on Sunday, officials initially delayed the start before announcing that the formation lap would take place behind the safety car, but after two exploratory laps around the Spa-Francorchamps circuit, it was decided that the race was too wet to be started safely.

After another delay of around two hours, officials revealed that the race would start under the safety car, but two more laps of Spa — enough for half championship points to be awarded – confirmed that conditions were too treacherous to race safely in.

With the three-hour time limit fast approaching and no sign of the weather relenting, the race was called off, with the drivers classified in the positions in which they had qualified on Saturday, Xinhua reports.

That meant Verstappen was awarded the win after his pole position on Saturday. Williams’ George Russell took his first-ever podium finish in unusual circumstances with second place, and reigning champion Lewis Hamilton was classified third.

Daniel Ricciardo took fourth in his McLaren, ahead of Aston Martin’s Sebastian Vettel and the AlphaTauri of Pierre Gasly.

Esteban Ocon’s Alpine was classified seventh, with Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc eighth, Russell’s teammate Nicholas Latifi ninth, and the second Ferrari of Carlos Sainz rounding out the points positions in 10th.

Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez ought to have been classified in his grid slot of seventh but ended up in last place after sliding off track and damaging his car on the way to the original grid, highlighting how difficult conditions were.

The decision to stop proceedings after just two laps makes this race the shortest ever in Formula One history, beating the record previously held by the 1991 Australian Grand Prix, which was called after 14 laps in equally torrential rain.

Hamilton still leads the drivers’ championship with 202.5 points, but Verstappen has closed the gap and now sits just three points adrift of the Briton in second place. McLaren’s Lando Norris remains in third place with 113 points.

In the constructors’ standings, Mercedes remain top with 310.5 points, but Verstappen’s win means Red Bull have closed the gap and now have 303.5, with McLaren edging ahead of Ferrari in the battle for third place with 169.

The next round of the 2021 F1 World Championship is the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort on September 5.

–IANS

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