Max Verstappen was victorious in the 2021 Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday in what was the first Formula One race this reporter has ever watched. Let me just say, it's quite a sport you've got here. And it's just incredibly dumb luck for me to have tuned in to see this lack of spectacle. I've seen people talking about the rain in Spa before, but this was ridiculous!
For about three hours, give or take a lifetime, drivers and their crews tried to stay prepared for rain to let up. As the broadcast wore on, it became clear that race organizers knew the rain would never stop. Conversations on ESPN2 changed to whether or not the race had ever actually begun. Perhaps unclear if it had or not, drivers got back in their cars and followed the medical car around the track twice before the event was officially declared an event and everyone was allowed to go home.
Well, everyone except for the guys who made the podium without actually having to race. Lewis Hamilton, who had already endured so much, was awarded third place. George Russell made his first podium and Verstappen got to hoist a trophy. Absolute scenes.
The best part of the broadcast - aside from announcer Martin Brundle telling viewers that there had in fact been an event even though they had watched anything but an event - was everything going on in the garage or under the tents or whatever the heck this sport calls anything. People danced. Drivers threw tennis balls to stay sharp. A few guys nodded off. One team even put a car back together, which seems unfair, but this is apparently the Whose Line is It Anyway? of motorsports.
The real star of the show was the beautiful medical car. Or as announcers pointed out, what Americans would call a pace car. No car spent more time on the track today than this Mercedes station wagon and boy did it look fun. The fact that the driver of this car was not given a trophy or a cut of what must have been a very nice prize pool.
No wonder people watch this incredible sport. I assume some fans will say this was fine because that's what fans do. They defend the things they love. In this case, a car racing league where they don't actually require the race cars to race at all the races. That's fine. It's stupid, but it's fine.
UPDATE: Lewis Hamilton called the event "a farce."