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. Lord Stig (@lord-stig) said on 2nd September 2012, 18:28

    I must agree with some of the postings people have made. While it is clear Grosjean was at fault, the penalty applied was not equal to the offense. It seems the stewards made the decision based on the amount of people caught up in the incident and not the initial incident between Grosjean and Hamilton. Grosjean did not leave enough room and certainly misjudged things, but it’s hard to say he did it with malice or significantly too much aggression. I feel a 10-place gird penalty would have been far more appropriate.

    • Jason (@jason12) said on 2nd September 2012, 18:50

      I’m not sure I agree with you here, Grosjean had a lot of track available to him.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 2nd September 2012, 19:09

      significantly too much aggression

      I think an experienced driver would know not to weave like that into another driver coming into La Source. While I agree that the penalty is harsh, I think enough is enough with this behaviour before someone gets seriously hurt. Yes we talk about closed cockpits and the like, but driver respect is key and Grosjean has been reckless at many starts this year.

      Grosjean’s biggest misfortune is the fact that Maldonado was not banned previously – which he probably should have been. That would have set the correct example and probably avoided this incident.

  2. This kind of penalty marks you for your whole career. So I feel bad for him. But only a little because his move was inexcusable.

    As far as the harshness, I think It makes sense to evaluate the circumstances and the result as well as the action itself. Consequences matter if they were foreseeable. Sweeping fully across the track going into a hairpin, without checking the position of a rival, at a notorious corner for start pile-ups was incredibly foolish. It’s not like he “misjudged” the corner or lost control. He actually interlocked wheels with Hamilton, as the latter tried in vain to get away from the collision, before continuing into the McLaren. This meant he was complete oblivious and reckless to me. It was not intentinoal, but clearly grossly negligent, so to speak. This was not a corner where Hamilton could run off the road to give way. The fact that he could have killed Alonso adds to it, because its evidence of the risks. Specifically, at a corner like that at the start you run the risk of hitting or riding over a car that is basically stationary or going perpendicular to your path at an enormous speed. The fact that it was Alonso and Hamilton, however, shouldn’t factor. I’m hoping they only added that as a mocking flourish.

    In general, the sport needs to crack down on the start behavior. As others have said, start accidents used to be very deadly and ] frequent. A combination of safer cars and the disasterous and widely emulated start-chop precedents of Senna and Schumacher made this kind of “chopping” the norm at starts. People even line up at an angle and shoot straight across the road at the lights. The FIA needs to crack down generally on start behavior. Maybe it has begun today. Monza is another race with a very dangerous start.

    Another thing. We need to have canopies. Maybe a lexan shield doesnt stop 1600lbs of race car from landing on Alonso’s head, but it can turn a glancing blow from deadly to surviveable. As we know even a 2lb piece of debris can kill. With Alonso, we got one more chance to whistle past the graveyard today. A completely exposed driver head is an anachronism that we likely will be rid of soon one way or another.

    • Yes, let’s mandate canopies, and Air conditioning so the drivers emerge only “well done” like a good English roast beef.

      Maybe warning stickers on the side mirrors… “objects in mirror are closer than they appear to be”.

      • John H (@john-h) said on 2nd September 2012, 19:13

        Ah Trevor, not you again.

        You do realise they have canopies in other series with side exits to avoid becoming ‘a good English roast beef’ as you say.

        Coming back to DaveW’s comment, I’d like to hope Grosjean realises how fortunate he is he doesn’t have a serious injury to Alonso on his conscience this evening.

        • Sorry to see you have no sense of humour john..

          F1 could follow the route of NASCAR and go with full rollcages. Then maybe convert to ovals and “go fast turn left”.

          Problem there is the drivers now treat them as bumper cars.

          Leave F1 as is.

  3. I think that the seemingly harsh penalty might have been done on purpose. What happened massively advantaged Kimi, his team mate, in the championship. Before the race Kimi with 5th (behind Hamilton) and 48 points behind Alonso. At the end of the race he is up to 4th (ahead of Hamilton) and only 33 points behind Alonso. It may be seen that Grosjean could have caused the accident on purpose (i.e. attempting to take out Hamilton) to give Kimi an advantage and as such given a large penalty.

  4. MahavirShah (@mahavirshah) said on 2nd September 2012, 18:41

    I think the penalty is a bit harsh for a couple of reasons.
    1) Something similar happened last year when the HRT of Liuzzi cannonballed into the front at Monza. He was not banned. Pastor’s many misdeameanours have led him to not be banned but reprimanded and handed grid drops. So the only thing against Grosjean was the fact that he had done something similar in Monaco. Yet for this I would have given him a “Start from the back” penalty.

    2) Had this happened at any other point or time during the race, I would imagine he would not recieve the ban. A penalty yes, but not a ban. My guess is the stewards were harsher since it was the start and potentially dangerous. However, any accident can endanger lives, potentially atleast. Yet, the penalty never reflects that.

    What, I feel is that, maybe the Stewards had some extra reason, based on some information we don’t know, to award such a harsh penalty. My point is just that it is high time to define penalties and rules for enforcing them properly. You can’t have a race where an incident for a collision reviewed after the race and in the next one have it decided almost instantly. There is a need for parity and equity in the decision making. While having former drivers as part of the sport helps bring tolerance, it also brings inequality in decisions. So for one race a collision may get a 5 place drop the same race by a steward A and a 5 place drop by Steward B and a reprimand by Steward C.

    • Good point 1, especially as it brings up Monza (I’m already nervous about that start next week). But that accident was different. First, Luizzi lost control (somehow, in a straight line). He wasn’t trying on some kind of swashbuckling squeeze-out move. Second, the actual collisions were not as grievous, which factors into the kind of care you would have expected him to take.

      As far as the consistency. Sure, we need more. But given that we have different stewards every race, it’s impossible. It’s just like any other sport, even like those with professional refs. They will just vary. And the sporting regs are so poorly written and vague in many places, it doesn’t help. The most we can hope for really is that the stewards stick with the available menu of penalties and make decisions quickly.

      • @mahavirshah : Yes,but you’ve overlooked something which the stewards probably took into account:Grosjean’s propensity for triggering 1st lap collisions….

        • MahavirShah (@mahavirshah) said on 3rd September 2012, 15:54

          @chicanef1 Yes I did think about that as well and to me it seems fair more that I think of it that a precedent must be set. I just felt that penalties should be same for all drivers regardless of when the accident was caused. An accident at Monaco at any time is dangerous due to the narrow nature of the cirucit. By the Grosjean yardstick must Pastor also be measured. I don’t have a grudge on the guy but I think he has had many misdeameanours to have warranted a ban as well especially after yesterdays false start and collision as well. That would then ensure that all drivers are being treated equally.

  5. katederby (@katederby) said on 2nd September 2012, 18:46

    It shouldn’t matter who is involved if safety if the main concern here.
    My issue is, will the FIA be consistent with handing out this kind of penalty?
    They haven’t been in the past as we’ve seen some horrid crashes go by with no mention of a driver being banned. And we’ve seen more dangerous driving get no more than a grid penalty… was Schumacher’s move on Barrichello in Hungary less dangerous than Grosjean’s today just because, thank goodness, Rubens escaped unhurt?

  6. People stop defending grosjean. The fia got mad that he has been involve in a crash at the start of the race in 6 out of 12 races this season. I’m pretty sure they want to prevent him from killing another driver as he almost did today with Alonso.

  7. Jason (@jason12) said on 2nd September 2012, 18:56

    Alexis (above) is on to something here.
    The move looked deliberate from Grosjean and it does benefit Kimi???

  8. f199player (@f199player) said on 2nd September 2012, 18:58

    Fair play to Grosjean for holding up his hands and admitting his mistake. He is a fantastic driver and I’ll miss him at the next race, like he said he’ll learn the lessons and come back as a better driver. Shame other people can’t admit to mistakes that they do.

  9. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd September 2012, 19:02

    The first thing I thought of when I read this was the person who suggested Pastor Maldonado take a race ban for blocking Nico Hulkenberg in qualifying.

    For future reference, causing a multi-car pile-up that sends three cars cartwheeling through the air is the kind of move that deserves a race ban. Not blocking.

    • John H (@john-h) said on 2nd September 2012, 19:21

      I didn’t see the comment, but presumably the person in question was forming a cumulative opinion to Maldonado’s many incidents, not just blocking someone in quali?

      In my opinion at least, Pastor’s intentional collisions with Hamilton and Perez (at Monaco, not Silverstone) should have warranted a race ban already, and may have even helped Grosjean realise he needed to start driving more sensibly, who knows?

      Having said that, in the situation we have now a race ban is warranted for Grosjean as you say.

      • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 2nd September 2012, 21:24

        @john-h

        Pastor’s intentional collisions with Hamilton and Perez

        I’m still not convinced – not by a long shot – that Maldonado deliberately crashed into Perez in Monaco. He simply had no reason to do it. I’ve asked to see conclusive proof of it, but nobody has ever given me anything more than “he was off the racing line”.

        I find an equally-plausible explanation to be that Maldonado misjudged the apex of the corner. Portier is already blind as is, but Perez’s car would have obscured the turn-in point even further (bearing in mind that the driver sits considerably lower than the camera view we get from the airbox). In his rush to get around Perez, he mistimed his turn-in and clipped him.

        Perhaps you can help here – is there something that I’m missing? Some crucial piece of evidence that I’ve inadvertently overlooked that proves Maldonado acted deliberately?

  10. I Love the Pope said on 2nd September 2012, 19:12

    Looking forward to seeing D’Ambrosio again!

  11. HoolyF1 (@hoolyf1) said on 2nd September 2012, 19:12

    Serves him right. He has been involved in 7 first lap incidents in 12 races. I am tired of him ruining others’ races and this will also stop other drivers (ie Maldonado) from thinking that they can get away with such incidents every week.

  12. James (@jamesf1) said on 2nd September 2012, 19:24

    I think Grosjean got off quite lightly here. I would say his punishment was more for the dangrous driving, rather than causin the reitement of two championship contenders. Although having said that, we need to look back to a similar incident, Monaco 2010, where Trulli choose to drive over Chandok rather than around him. I dont remember any penalty being applied, and I’m sure that Trulli was racing the following weekend.

    Grosjean has been involved in many first lap calamities this year, and he really needs to sort his behaviour out. He’s much like Maldonado in that respect, quick, but has very deep flaws which could ultimately become their legacies in F1.

    Also, I find that 50,000e fine a pitiful amount relative to how much money he must be recieving. Hit him in the pocket and really make him sorry.

  13. Bod606 said on 2nd September 2012, 19:30

    If you watch the footage GRO moves over till they interlock wheels then a split second later moves again causing the accident.
    As Coulthard said, perhaps this is a signal to the younger drivers coming through that this isnt a computer game and you ve got to start respecting each others safety.
    And if doing what nearly took Alonso`s head off doesnt get a ban then the World`s gone mad an left me behind.

  14. petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 2nd September 2012, 19:32

    Wow that’s harsh! He made a mistake but had Hamilton just gone into the wall and nothing else, he’d have given a 5 place grid penalty and that would have been it.

    The punishment should fit the crime, not the outcome (although I accept that in life, that’s almost never the case).

    I don’t know what’s been said though – perhaps he’s already on a warning as it isn’t the first time he’s done something stupid on the first lap.

  15. Jason (@jason12) said on 2nd September 2012, 19:49

    Does anyone know why Grosjean just chose to leave the ample track that was available to him?

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