Grosjean handed one-race ban for first-corner crash

2012 Belgian Grand Prix

Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Spa-Francorchamps, 2012Romain Grosjean has been banned for one race following the crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix.

The collision was triggered when Grosjean moved across on Lewis Hamilton on the run to the first corner.

Grosjean car struck Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari dangerously close to the cockpit. Four drivers were eliminated in the crash, including Grosjean, Hamilton, Alonso and Sergio Perez. Kamui Kobayashi’s car was also badly damaged.

The Lotus driver was also fined €50,000 for the collision.

The stewards explained the penalty as follows: “The stewards regard this incident as an extremely serious breach of the regulations which had the potential to cause injury to others. It eliminated leading championship contenders from the race.

“The stewards note the team conceded the action of the driver was an extremely serious mistake and an error of judgement. Neither the team nor the driver made any submission in mitigation of penalty.”

Grosjean said: “When your life is all about racing, not being allowed to attend an event is probably one of the worst experiences you can go through. That said, I do respect the verdict of the stewards.

“I got a good start – despite being disturbed by Pastor’s early launch, which I think was the case for everybody at the front – and was heading into the first corner when the rear of my car made contact with the front of Lewis [Hamilton’s].

“I honestly thought I was ahead of him and there was enough room for both cars; I didn’t deliberately try to squeeze him or anything like that. This first corner situation obviously isn’t what anyone would want to happen and thankfully no-one was hurt in the incident.

“I wish to apologise to the drivers who were involved and to their fans. I can only say that today is part of a process that will make me a better driver.”

2012 Belgian Grand Prix

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374 comments on Grosjean handed one-race ban for first-corner crash

  1. KaIIe (@kaiie) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:01

    The steward’s statement says “It eliminated leading championship contenders from the race.”

    So, basically you can crash as much as you want in the back of the field? Just take out Alonso/other “championship contender” and you’re banned? Should be equal rules for everyone…

    • agreed

    • Switchbacker (@switchbacker) said on 2nd September 2012, 18:34

      +1

    • Tom M in Australia said on 3rd September 2012, 3:05

      Like Slowhand has said repeatedly, it was an ADDITIONAL factor. The FIA statement does not say “this accident was serious because it took out championship contenders”. You have come up with that interpretation yourself.

      Put it another way; lets say driver A is to blame for a minor accident that eliminates driver B. An appropriate minor penalty is applied. Now let’s add that the incident allows driver A to win the championship at driver B’s expense. Same penalty applies?

  2. Lin1876 (@lin1876) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:01

    Do I think this is the correct penalty for what was done? Yes, it was careless to the extreme and, more significantly in my view, this isn’t the first time he’s caused an accident with a move like this. He did something very similar in Monaco (though I can’t remember the penalty).

    However, I can’t remember the last time a driver was banned, yet there have been a few incidents worthy of such a penalty. Maldonado on Hamilton at Spa last year, for example. I wish the stewards were more consistently harsh, basically.

  3. John White (@jonty1512) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:02

    Why only a 1 race ban? Personally I think it should’ve been harsher maybe a 4 race ban with 3 races suspended for 12 months. Roman then knows if he causes another pile up he will automatically get a further 3 race ban. It isn’t acceptable to have drivers on the grid who regularly cause incidents that either endanger other drivers safety and / or ruin other drivers races

  4. icemangrins (@icemangrins) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:03

    He did the same kind of stuff at Monaco that left him in a spin

  5. lewisfan1992 said on 2nd September 2012, 17:04

    That’s fair.
    Grosjean needs to think this is F-1, not GP-2!!!
    the same for MAldonado!
    what a shame for both!

  6. Eggry (@eggry) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:04

    He got 5 grid penalty for the start. Out of my expectation but it might be fair.

  7. alexf1man (@alexf1man) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:07

    What happened when Michael Schumacher (then in Benetton, now Lotus funnily enough) was banned for two races in 1994?

  8. Babar Ali said on 2nd September 2012, 17:12

    I supposed Grosjean should be banned for the remaining 8 races the way he has caused accidents in most of the past 12 races of this season. He is either too immature for F1 racing or he has got a serious attitude problem same as Maladonando. Both of them complete nuisance to F1 racing and should actually be banned completely if possible.

  9. Switchbacker (@switchbacker) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:16

    Ruin someone else’s race gratuitously, get banned for a race – seems fair.

    Was so unavoidable and dangerous he should get a huge fine, or a further grid penalty too.

    When I saw it I thought Hamilton kept accelerating to make sure Grosjean paid for cutting him up, even seemed to steer to make sure he could push Grosjean into the pack, where Alonso was, anyone else think that?

    • Hamilton lost control of the car when he hit the wet grass

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:24

      When I saw it I thought Hamilton kept accelerating to make sure Grosjean paid for cutting him up, even seemed to steer to make sure he could push Grosjean into the pack, where Alonso was, anyone else think that?

      I don’t agree – partly because there’s no way you could get away with doing something like that, the telemetry would make it clear.

      But also because there was another driver who got onto the grass on the right during one of the support races and it was clear there was absolutely no grip there. I think Johnny Cecotto Jnr did at the start of one of the GP2 races.

      Hamilton’s loss of grip combined with the cars ahead braking for the first corner is what made the accident so violent.

      • Not just that but also the front end of his car went airbourne, your not slowing down when that happens.

        • Switchbacker (@switchbacker) said on 2nd September 2012, 18:18

          Yeah after he somersaulted over Perez, Im talking about the 400 metres between Grosjean taking him out, and him and Grosjean spearing the pack.

          • No if you look close Hamiltons front wheels lift off the ground as his front makes contact with Grosjeans rear.

            His wheels are smashed and the front end is off the ground, his car isnt goin to slow down.

      • Hamilton had 3 feet of space to his right. It was a racing incident, that is all.

        • McLar3n said on 2nd September 2012, 17:52

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQv7s55G8oc

          Calling ********. Watch 1:00-1:05 – Hamilton steering rack is dead straight. Grosjean moves rightward with such incredible speed (watch exterior shots) that Ham could’ve done nothing about it. And when they do make contact at 1:05, don’t tell me there’s 3 feet to the right of Hamilton. Grass don’t count.

        • minnis (@minnis) said on 2nd September 2012, 18:39

          *sigh*
          So Hamilton should have gone onto the three foot of GRASS, and hit his brakes immediately? And as there is no grip there, he just would have ploughed into the field as they turned into La Source anyway. Like what happened with Liuzzi at Monza last year(?).

      • Switchbacker (@switchbacker) said on 2nd September 2012, 18:03

        I never thought that definitely happened was just curious if you guys thought it looked that way.

        Do the stewards really analyse telemetry etc to that detail on every incident? Surely they would have to have a reason, and to interpret things in a certain way to even check his throttle, braking?

      • Switchbacker (@switchbacker) said on 2nd September 2012, 18:15

        Im refering to the 400 or so metres that he hardly decelerated after he had spun on the grass.

    • andrewf1 (@andrewf1) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:30

      umm…how can you possibly think that? i guess you would do that in computer racing, but not in real racing. no driver in their right mind thinks ‘i want to ram these guys off the track, yeah!’ it’s easy to say that watching from the living room, but its a completely different story inside the cockpit, accelerating to speeds of 200kph before a corner.

      i’ve watched the video again and i think what you’re referring to is actually Hamilton having his front wheels air-borne so i don’t think there was any way for him to brake.

      • Switchbacker (@switchbacker) said on 2nd September 2012, 18:13

        Why do you find my suggestion so outrageous? Senna took Prost out at much greater speeds, Piquet put his car in a wall so Alonso could win etc, it happens, and it would be owhere near as cavalier as you are infering.

        They were going maybe 130K before T1.

        He had 4 wheels on the track for at least 350 Metres before T1, surely he could brake even if front suspension is gone?

      • Front the inboard camera it seems that Hamilton did not brake and keep accelerating . It would be nice to see the telemetry data. I mean you did not see the from tires locking up.

        • DaveD (@daved) said on 2nd September 2012, 20:38

          “Front the inboard camera it seems that Hamilton did not brake and keep accelerating”

          What are you talking about? You think you can tell what he was doing on the accelerator by watching him try to jerk the wheel back and forth to get control of the car? It is physically impossible to see what gear he was in, much less what RPMs he was hitting.
          You are clearly seeing what you WANT to see, as there is NOTHING in that video that could possibly tell you what his feet were doing on the pedals. That is a stupid statement. Watch this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eQv7s55G8oc) between 1:06-1:10 and tell me that you could possibly see what was happening with his braking and acceleration! I’m sorry, but you’re completely seeing something you have imagined to be there emotionally and then filling in the gaps with your imagination.

    • Agreed. Hamilton has responsibility in this.

      • stirper said on 2nd September 2012, 21:55

        you are right

      • rantingmrp (@rantingmrp) said on 2nd September 2012, 22:01

        Wow – stellar thinking. Another driver zips across the track, knocks you out, but somehow you are responsible – despite everyone that knows anything about F1 agreeing it is Grosjean’s fault, you still think Hamilton “has responsibility in this”.
        How enlightening.

      • minnis (@minnis) said on 6th September 2012, 19:54

        @trev
        Great, thats reassuring, knowing that if I’m driving down the road and decide to veer onto the pavement, knocking over a pedestrian, I’ll know that it was the pedestrian’s fault.

        *facepalm*

    • Snafu (@snafu) said on 2nd September 2012, 23:39

      You really think Hamilton had the time to pick a victim and keep accelerating to hit him with Grosjean’s car?! You do realize that all the incident took 3 or 4 seconds, right? I’m not sure if anyone can do anything like that in that time with that condition!

  10. rajamaniarun (@rajamaniarun) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:16

    Crosjean deserves it but on other occasions when Maldonado has done the same the stewards have looked the other side.

  11. HUHHII (@huhhii) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:19

    Now Lotus has to realise Kimi is their man to win anything this year. Grosjean and whoever will drive for Monza (D’Ambrosio?) has to concentrate on helping Kimi in hunt for his 2nd WDC.

  12. Harsh but fair. It had to be done. This time it wasn’t just a plain stupid move but a very dangerous one as well.

    On the other hand, Maldonado should have gotten the same treatment a long time ago or in Valencia at least.

    The good thing is that the stewards finally decided where to draw the line. Hopefully consistency in applying these kind of penalties and bans will follow. Better late than never.

    Now, are Lotus allowed to replace him in Monza or will they run one car? It’s all a bit unclear to me at the moment. And if so…is it gonna be D’Ambrosio or will Boullier make a couple of phone calls first? He’s got options for sure: Heidfeld, Sutil, Alguersuari?

  13. Jason (@jason12) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:26

    Fair punishment, just wish the stewards would be more consistent though.

  14. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:32

    I agree it was stupid, but what were they expecting, really?

    If you have a driver like Maldonado that’s been crashing people on purpose or not at almost every single race this year and a couple of times last year, the rest of the guys will know that’s the limit.

    It maybe is a penalty well deserved, but Maldonado should’ve got a couple of them quite a few times already. It’s the “Schumacher-esque moves” all over again. They were right on the limit, and failing to penalize them at the right time, allowed the rest to be given green light to do the same thing.

    I get the feeling that the FIA wants to show the drivers they are not afraid to impose this kind of penalties. It’s just the timing that is wrong. As if they suddenly realized they could do this kind of thing. It’s been 18 years since a driver has not been given a race ban. Clearly, there must have been some good examples of drivers that deserved that in that time.

  15. Too soft, i would impose him to start always from pit-lane untill the end of this season, end of the problem.

  16. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:35

    I guess the punishment is fair enough – the last similar race ban I can remember is Mika Hakkinen in 1994:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxkDeMxkexo
    (ignore the first crash at the back! Look out for the white car on the left, 4 or 5 rows back.)

    But GP2 & 3 drivers are getting away with driving that’s as bad, or worse – e.g. yesterday’s GP2 race, where Canamasas ran someone into the pit wall (and got a 4-place grid penalty). I think harsher punishments should be used to set examples before drivers get anywhere near F1.

    • Mark Hitchcock (@mark-hitchcock) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:47

      When I saw that GP2 incident the first thing I thought was that he’d get a race ban. Only a grid penalty for that is shocking.

      Like you say, that sort of driving needs to be harshly punished or we’ll get more drivers like Maldonado and Grosjean getting into F1 and continuing to cause those sort of accidents.

  17. Babar Ali said on 2nd September 2012, 17:37

    It’s high time to check the driving licence of Grosjean. Has he got one or the one he has got is not fake ?

  18. William Brierty said on 2nd September 2012, 17:40

    The regulations say that Lotus can legally replace Grosjean, because the penalty is form the driver not the team, so I expect D’ambrosio to get a race outting soon. I’m not actually sure if it has to be the next race that Grosjean misses or if Grosjean can choose the race he misses, in which case it probably won’t be at Monza because with their “device” they might potentially be quite quick, I expect them to choose a circuit that won’t suit their car – Singapore perhaps. For all those that are saying that the decision was harsh, think about this – Alonso could have been killed. Imagine that. One of the greatest names ever in our sport struck down by the stupidity of another. For me that was a half race without Alonso, or Hamilton for that matter, the best two drivers, the benchmarks for the rest of the field were missing. Despite that I categorically agree with everyone who says that it is inconsistant to penalize Grosjean so heavily and let Maldonado off comparably lightly. I’d like to see a new system introduced that dictates that if a driver has more than a certain amount of penalties, say ten, he is deemed unfit for F1 and has his super license taken away – which needs to happen to Maldonado, because it’s getting beyond a joke now.

  19. Sandlefish (@sandlefish) said on 2nd September 2012, 17:42

    For sure I think Grosjean needs a race out to reflect and mature. He has good potential, but will never deliver unless he makes it past lap 1. We are fortunate today that the turn 1 accident only resulted in damaged cars. @Bullfrog has a good point in saying that GP2/3 rules should be tightened to make sure this sort of thing is improved from the ‘ground up’.

    However that said, I also agree with the posters on here who point to Maldonado’s various indiscretions. Twice he has caused accidents with intent, and has also been involved in several other collisions, yet only receives grid penalties. This needs equalising.

    Finally, justifying the ban on the grounds that the accident eliminated championship contenders seems odd. Does this imply that a similar accident caused by Grosjean, which eliminated non-championship contenders, would receive alternative punishment? If so, that is unacceptable. The punishment should reflect the potential severity of the accident, not the names involved.

  20. Fair punishment but the stewarding from the FIA has been inconsistent on how to deal with matters like this. Maybe they decided enough is enough with people like Grosjean and Maldonado thinking their actions have no consequence and treating F1 cars like dodgems, but I would argue Maldonado has crossed the line of what is acceptable plenty of times already this year and last, and should have had a ban by this point.

    Today Alonso was so lucky Grosjean’s car didn’t hit his head, and it was a reminder of what could go wrong in a crash. It wasn’t like it was Grosjean’s first accident this season, he’s done it 6 or 7 times now so I guess the stewards wanted to send a message. Quite why they haven’t done it with Maldonado earlier I don’t know but that’s another matter.

    I think F1 drivers are too flippant in general about the consequences of some of their actions can have with the incredible safety of the modern cars. Senna and Prost started it, Schumacher carried it on with many dangerous moves in his career and now guys like Vettel (with his chopping across the front of cars at the start of the race) Hamilton, Maldonado and Grosjean are/have been far too eager to make contact with other cars.

    You did that 30 years ago and you were running the risk of having a fatal accident, perhaps a few of the drivers need reminding of that.

    • Senna and Prost started it, Schumacher carried it on with many dangerous moves in his career and now guys like Vettel (with his chopping across the front of cars at the start of the race) Hamilton, Maldonado and Grosjean are/have been far too eager to make contact with other cars.

      It’s not a good idea to place Maldonado and Grosjean in the same sentence with 4 other people who share 16 WDC titles between them, if you want to make a point. :)

      There’s a thin line between being aggresive and being dangerous. Those first 4 guys are aggressive and that’s why they are among the best drivers the world has ever produced. The other 2 just become dangerous in the process of trying to succesfully be aggresive.

      • 5 guys, 17 titles. Sorry about that, Hamilton somehow got unintentionally overlooked.

      • You seem to have missed my point. Senna, Schumacher, Prost etc are some of the most high profile and greatest drivers of all time, but Senna and Schumacher in particular definitely were dangerous rather than aggressive several times notably during their career. Case in point being Schumacher on his return to the sport thinking it was acceptable to nearly put Barrichello in the wall.

        This attitude that it is acceptable to make contact with other cars has permeated down to the younger generation of drivers following the example set before. Hamilton and Vettel might be world champions and more talented than Grosjean and certainly Maldonado but the point still stands they have both made contact, or been over forceful with other drivers in the past.

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