Romain Grosjean, Lotus, Spa-Francorchamps, 2012

Grosjean handed one-race ban for first-corner crash

2012 Belgian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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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Image © Lotus F1 Team/LAT

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

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  1. Taking into account lewis was moved to the back of the grid after taking pole in spain for a fuel irregularity (no fault of his own) i think Mr Grojean has got off lightly….

  2. Agree wholeheartedly with the ban. I said it in 2008 & I’ve been saying it this season: Romain should not be in F1. He drives like a foal with blinders & is simply not up to the grade.

    1. Lol,what a lovely way of putting it!!! And i agree wholeheartedly!!!! Its shocking to see the two most recent GP2 champs drive so irresponsibly time and again…

  3. Would Indycar-style bodywork on the sides help? (in front of the rear wheels) – maybe Grosjean wouldn’t have got airborne, he and Hamilton would’ve just bounced off the sides of each other, and so maybe Hamilton wouldn’t have lost control and piled into the back of the others.

    I don’t want to make allowances for bad driving, and you might say the cars would look silly or clumsy – but they look stupid enough at the front anyway!

    1. Please dont, those things a pure crap.

  4. I think a lot of drivers feel they can get away with bumping into Hamilton,
    thanks to the bias the stewards have against him.

  5. Hopefully Renault can rent Bottas from Williams for a cheaper engine deal, I’d love to see him get a shot

    1. Though I like the idea, but this is going to be such a harsh blow to Jerome.

  6. not really the way i wanted to see him drive a lotus, but this looks like d’ambrosio will be in the car at monza. on one hand i am elated, yet i will also miss his gp2 commentary! unlikely, but i’d love for jerome to get an f1 seat next year. qualifying wasn’t a strong point for jerome at marussia – i hope he does well in monza.

  7. This is not the first start hot headed crash for grosjean, he has ruined many a drivers race!! As DC said you can’t win a race in the first corner!!! This idiot almost wiped out Alonso!! Penalty will hopefully make him think again.

  8. The crash was Grosjeans’ fault however a race ban seems a little harsh considering Maldonado actually swerved into another car on purpose in Monaco and he only got a 10 place penalty (from memory). Are the stewards punishing the crime or the result of said crime one wonders.

    1. Indeed, I wonder the same. It is unfair really for stewards to punish the result of a crime because no one can tell how an F1 car can react to an incident, serious or not.

  9. I’m sick of the FIA legislating race outcomes by making arbitrary calls that have no basis in reality.
    Just because Grosjean made a mistake thinking he was clear of Hamilton’s car is no reason to ban him for a race based solely on the severity of the accident that ensued. If it had been done intentionally, that’s another situation entirely.
    If you ask me, the accident was so severe because Hamilton didn’t immediately lift off of the throttle after he and Grosjean collected each other which is obviously the reason Grosjean’s car was shoved into and over the cars in front. I’m not blaming Hamilton, only saying that there was more at play there than just Grosjean’s clip of Hamilton’s LF tire.
    It’s about time the FIA let the drivers race and determine the outcome rather than assessing ignorant penalties for events on the track. I’ve not seen a previous race with so many “investigations” of things that happened on the track. Vettel and Schumacher trying to get into the pits? Get serious. What business is it of the FIA to even consider what happened there as any of their business? No one got hit or wrecked, no one complained. Ditto for most of the other calls.
    I also call BS on Maldonado’s penalty for jumping the start. I don’t care how great a timing system they’ve got, if the spectators can see that Maldonado didn’t appear to move until the lights were out then that should be good enough.
    I’d rather see the drivers being allowed to race w/o a bunch of fat-assed-arm-chair officials throwing their weight around micro-managing the races with asinine decisions.
    Decisions like these by the FIA really takes the joy out of watching the races, esp. when they postpone decisions until after races. To me, it appears that the FIA officials are just a bunch of bitchy little girls with control issues.

    1. If you can give me an actual reason why Grosjean left the swathes of open track in front of him to swerve right into Hamilton, I might begin to consider taking your comment seriously.

      Hamilton was without fault and was literally going in a straight line until Romain came flying from his left out of nowhere. Nothing Hamilton could’ve done differently to change the outcome.

      1. why Grosjean left the swathes of open track in front of him to swerve right into Hamilton

        I think you are being a tad unfair on Grosjean there @duchess, sure enough he failed to think/look at where Hamilton was, but it was clear to me that he was trying to avoid getting stuck being Kobayashi, and thought he could slip in between Perez and the edge of the track there.

    2. As Keith said in the live blog `if MAL didnt jump the start I`ll eat my trousers`
      No one gets a start like that without jumping the lights, and as mentioned elsewhere there is a Human reaction time of 0.085 seconds, if He left the grid within that time of the lights going out He jump started.

    3. A mistake? 7 incidents in 12 starts? He is not a driver, he is just mad. That’s a race not “last man driving contest”.

  10. This punishment is a complete over reaction. This is a guaranteed racing incident……….a complete joke that they seek to ban a driver

  11. This guy should be out of F1 for Ever. He could kill Alonso if the car Would go 10 inchies left.

    1. You must be joking.

  12. Harsh, definitely – which doesn’t mean unfair.
    Were it onl for this incident it would be too much, but I think it’s also because it’s not the first time that Grosjean has caused an accident at the start of a race.
    He went towards Hamilton, but just as they were about to collide he stopped turning left and started going straight. Hamilton had some little space on the right but decided to go straight. Grosjean’s right-rear tyre was between Hamilton’s front- and rear-left tyres, and as the Lotus was faster when his right-rear hit the McLaren’s front-left the cars were airborne and the drivers lost control.
    In the GP2 feature race Gutierrez jumped from 3rd to attack polesitter Haryanto who pushed him onto the grass – but Gutierrez avoided him and settled for 3rd. Hamilton instead, having seen Grosjean’s car so close, did nothing to avoid the accident. Grosjean, rather than turning into Hamilton, got very very close alongsde him, and the crash wasn’t due to one of the drivers steering into the other, but due to the different speeds of the two cars. Hamilton, as he was mostly behind, had a better view of the other car and could – and should – have done more to avoid the crash. This however doesn’t take most of the responsibility off Grosjean’s shoulders.
    On itself, this decision wouldn’t be unfair – but when compared to crashes caused on purpose (yes, I’m referring to Maldonado, on more than one occasion) the penalty is harsher there’s someting to look at, as it’s clearly wrong.
    On a side note, were d’Ambrosio to race at Monza I’d be happy for him. I always love when third/reserve drivers get a chance.

    1. So Hamilton had to drive onto the grass entering the braking zone to avoid GRO`s diagonal drive of the line, if he had done this what do think would happen as Hamilton braked?
      Everybody saying what the hell was Hamilton doing losing it against the wall in the braking zone perchance?

      1. There was room before the grass, then there was another metre. Had he gone on the grass he could have slowed down as he wouldn’t have been airborne. Grosjean definitely misjudged where Hamilton’s car was, but once he was ahead it was up to Hamilton to avoid the accident.

  13. I believe this incident is intentional. Do not forget that under the snazzy yellow and black paint jobs that this team is Renault, Flavio Briatorie’s team. This smells very simillar to Piquets incident

  14. The ups and downs of f1 2012 .on a real high after LH win in hungary.monza cant come quick enough now.Pick yourself up lewis, find out where it went wrong during p3 and qually and come out fighting next week .you now have a car quick enough to win this year,go out and do it.

  15. Grosjean’s sideswipe into Hamilton was obviously wrong and deserved a penalty, as any look at the vision from Hamilton’s cockpit will show. However, two the two issues are:
    1) Why a ban for Grosjean, but not Maldonado? I think this is right, because the danger resulting from Grosjean’s was much worse than anything Maldonado has done yet, simply because it happened right at the start, so there were many more drivers packed into a smaller “danger zone” on the track. The sport had to act tough on this one. These guys have to be more careful at the start, as there are simply more human beings in harm’s way.
    2) The main difference I saw between Grosjean’s move on Hamilton at Spa, and Alonso’s on Webber of the start-line at Silverstone, was that Webber’s skills in evading contact with Alonso were superior to Hamilton’s in evading Grosjean. Hence, the contact at Spa, but no contact at Silverstone. This doesn’t make Hamilton a culprit by any means, since the accident was still clearly Grosjena’s fault and the worst Hamilton could be accused of is not having superhuman reactions to an unexpected swipe from the side. But it does show just how skillful both Alonso and Webber were in their duel at Silverstone (both at the start, and then 5 laps from the end when Webber went past Alonso).

    1. Based on your analysis, Alonso should have avoided Grosjean’s car flying over his head…

  16. “Grosjean’s actions were reckless, but I believe that they were accidental. His move was deserving of a grid penalty, similar to Schumacher received in Barcelona, in my opinion.

    How the stewards decide to ban Grosjean and not Maldonado for deliberately using his car as a weapon in anger on two separate occassions and repeatedly poor driving standards is utterly beyond me”

    @Magnificent-Geoffrey has pretty much nailed it here. I’ll add a couple more things.

    Grosjean did the same thing to Schumacher in Monaco it has to be remembered. So he’s already had chance to learn from that mistake.

    As for Hamilton, it seems the main people trying to blame him are just trolling – and if that were any other driver there’d be a lot less people trying to blame him. That’s pretty terrible luck.

    Mixed emotions at the end of today – we had a great race, and it was nice to see Button so dominant and comfortable again. But that accident was so unnecessary and to see Sauber’s great opportunity thrown away really gets to me!

    On a better note, it has to be said – we saw some equally fantastic racing today. Let’s hope for a clean one at Monza.

  17. Even I can’t find a way to blame Hamilton for this one. Drats.

    1. Watch this Youtube video:
      – watching from the above car view you would have to blame Grosjean, but if you watch the in-car video (~1:05 in the clip) you can see that Grosjean’s car was definately past Hamilton, but Hamilton obviously didn’t want to back-off because he’s so stubborn and focused on the corner. I think Grosjean made the mistake of assuming Hamilton would back off – a mistake he won’t make again!
      But not worth a racing ban – it should be put it down as a “racing incident”. At worst they should have made him start from back of the pack.
      Random application of penalties turns people off any sport – both competitors and viewers.

      1. From the front view it actually looks like Grosjean was aiming for Hamilton and had orders to eliminate him, with extreme prejudice! He crossed the full width of the track to get him – shot! From Hamiltons view Grosjean wasn’t past him so there was no reason to yield and Grosjean, not being past Hamilton, kept moving left. Had he been a couple of yards further up the track it would have made sense for GRO to get in front of HAM and cover him. But he wasn’t far enough ahead.

        I think that the kindest you could say about GROs actions was that they were cavalier. At worst he’s an assassin.

        Believe me, I usually try to find a way to blame Hamilton for everything, including my bald spot and global warming. But in this case I just can’t see it. I tried, I really did.

        1. If you rewatch the restart, from the bird-eye’s view, you could see that Grosjean was still giving Hamilton some space before Hamilton accelerates as he tries to get that place back from GRO. So it is part of his fault, maybe 20%, for forcing Grojean back to his right and not backing off.

          1. You are pathetic.

  18. Justified punishment,Romain do need calm down a bit more over his 1st Lap driving.

    1. If you are the driver and you are desperately trying to get the win and you are qualified at the midfield, will you calm down?

  19. Let me be honest here: when I saw the F1Fanatic posting on Facebook yesterday, my immediate reaction was ***?

    Seriously, I thought it was a racing incident. Granted, Romain has had many of those this season, but the FIA should really have gave him a suspended race ban or a reprimand. Banning him because he caused an accident that took out the championship contenders is just plain stupid.

    What if the same accident happened, but no one else got involved and cars didn’t go airborne? Or what if it involved the HRTs and Marrusias. Would a race ban have been forthcoming?

    I understand, Alonso was a couple of feet from a near-certain death, but beyond the initial contact, you cannot blame Romain as a slight change in speed and direction can cause F1 cars to react in a myriad of ways.

    I have seen more serious incidents but with less severe outcomes in the past 5 seasons. Schumacher on Baricello a few years back, Maldonado’s stupid antics….a lot others were worth the one race ban, but I never ever thought Romain would get it in my wildest dreams after seeing the accident live on my PC. It was bad, undoubtedly, the outcome – but I squarely put it down to a racing incident.

  20. From Hamilton’s perspective, you are always vunerable when you start the race midpack. Even Alonso started only two places ahead of Lewis, and going into a tight first corner like La Source, these things can happen. I was pleased to see Alonso get out of the car unscathed, for a moment I thought he had been struck on the head by a wheel from the Lotus. Lucky.
    As for the penalty I would say a grid penalty is the better option. In Grosjean’s defence I saw it for what it was, the Frenchman thought incorrectly that he had more room than he did. It was an accident, nothing malicious or delibrate, but an accident! I admire him for admitting as much afterward, although it won’t help his situation nor will it help those whose races he ruined.

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