The British Grand Prix became the first MotoGP race to be canceled in 38 years Sunday after heavy rain left standing water on parts of the new track at Silverstone, England.
Officials said track conditions were deemed “too unsafe” to race on. The start time had been brought forward by 90 minutes because of a forecast of heavy rain.
MotoGP race director Mike Webb said the new surface at Silverstone, which was laid in February, was to blame.
“We’ve had a number of years’ experience here in very wet conditions recently with the old surface and have been able to run races,” Webb said.
“This year, with the new surface, is the first time we’ve encountered quite so much standing water in critical places on the track. So yes it’s a direct result of the track surface.”
Jorge Lorenzo had been due to start on pole position, with championship leader Marc Marquez in fifth place.
“We are very sorry for all the fans,” Marquez tweeted, “we are the first ones that we want to ride but safety is the priority.”
The last MotoGP race to be called off because of weather or track conditions was Austria in 1980.
The British GP is the 12th of 19 races on the MotoGP calendar.
“The staff have done an unbelievable effort over the whole weekend to try and make the track safe and until the last minute they were still working,” Webb said, “but unfortunately we couldn’t battle nature.”
Vettel bests Hamilton to win Belgian Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel made a crucial early overtaking move on Lewis Hamilton to win the crash-marred Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps on Sunday and trim his rival’s overall lead.
Hamilton started from pole position for a record fifth time at Spa, and a record-extending 78th in Formula One, with Vettel second on the grid.
But Vettel has a knack for quick starts, and he nudged his Ferrari past Hamilton’s Mercedes on the first lap with a smart move down the left.
“I had a great start. I knew my chance would come,” Vettel said. “Timing is crucial and I managed that perfectly I thought.”
It came moments after Fernando Alonso’s McLaren flew through the air and landed on top of Charles Leclerc’s Sauber. Leclerc, unharmed, was likely spared a head injury by the protective halo device surrounding the cockpit area of F1 cars. The incident brought out the safety car.
Vettel’s 52nd career win closes the gap with Hamilton to 17 points heading into next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza — Ferrari’s home. Hamilton has 231 points and second-place Vettel has 214. A win earns 25 points.
With eight races remaining, it was a crucial win to halt Hamilton’s momentum. It also moved Vettel one ahead of four-time F1 champion Alain Prost for third in all-time wins behind Hamilton (67) and Michael Schumacher (91).