Grosjean is first banned driver since Schumacher

2012 Belgian Grand Prix stats and facts

Michael Schumacher, Benetton, Interlagos, 1994Romain Grosjean will be feeling contrite after being banned from the next race for triggering a huge crash on the first lap in Belgium.

But his ban puts him in surprisingly good company. Several drivers who were handed race bans went on to become world champions.

The last driver to be banned from a race was Michael Schumacher, who was excluded from the Italian and Portuguese Grands Prix in 1994 following a messy incident in that year’s British Grand Prix.

Schumacher had broken the rules by overtaking pole sitter Damon Hill on the formation lap. He was handed a five-second stop-go penalty, which he failed to serve, and was then shown the black flag. Only then did he appear in the pits for his stop-go penalty, six laps after the black flag was first shown.

The FIA rejected Benetton’s appeal that the original penalty had been handed down too late and disqualified Schumacher from the race and two future races.

Before Schumacher could serve his ban another future world champion incurred the FIA’s wrath. Much like Grosjean, Mika Hakkinen was adjudged to be responsible for a first-lap crash in Germany, and was banned from the next race at the Hungaroring.

There was a spate of such exclusions in 1994. Eddie Irvine was banned from one race when he was blamed for a four-car crash in the Brazilian Grand Prix. When his Jordan team appealed the ban it was increased to three races.

Joining Schumacher and Hakkinen in the ‘future champions who were excluded from races’ is Nigel Mansell, who was barred from racing in Spain in 1989 after colliding with Ayrton Senna in Portugal while the stewards were trying to black-flag him for a pit lane infraction.

Since 1994 the only other race exclusions was the BAR team’s two-race ban in 2005 for infringing the technical regulations. Renault were initially banned from the 2009 European Grand Prix when Fernando Alonso lost a wheel during that year’s race in Hungary, but the ban was quashed on appeal.

Some may recall Felipe Massa’s absence from the 2002 United States Grand Prix following a collision with Pedro de la Rosa at Monza. But Massa was not excluded – he had been handed a grid penalty so the team chose to replace him with Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

Lap one crash ruins races

The crash ruined the races of several drivers including both Sauber pilots. This was especially galling for them as Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez had achieved their personal best starting positions with second and fourth respectively, which was also the best combined qualifying performance for Sauber.

Kobayashi equalled the best qualifying performance by a Sauber (they had pole positions as BMW Sauber), which was also achieved by Jean Alesi in the 1998 Austrian and 1999 French Grands Prix.

And Kobayashi also matched the best ever qualifying performance by a Japanese driver – Takuma Sato qualified second for the 2004 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

Another driver whose race was ruined by the first-lap crash was Fernando Alonso. Had he scored in this race he would have equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of 24 consecutive points finishes (set when points were awarded to the top six/eight drivers). Alonso’s last non-score was at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve last year.

Four drivers were eliminated on the first lap. That’s the most since the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix when Vitaly Petrov, Nico Hulkenberg, Felipe Massa, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Lucas di Grassi all retired.

Button’s first pole position for McLaren

Jenson Button, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2012Jenson Button claimed his first pole position for McLaren, in his 50th appearance for the team. He now has eight career pole positions, as many as John Surtees and Riccardo Patrese, and is the seventh different pole sitter this season.

He converted it into his 14th career win and his first at Spa-Francorchamps, becoming the first driver to lead every lap of a race this year. Button now has as many wins as fellow world champions Graham Hill, Jack Brabham and Emerson Fittipaldi.

Had he taken the fastest lap as well this would have been Button’s first ever ‘grand slam’. But Bruno Senna beat him to it, setting his first ever fastest lap.

Button’s win means McLaren have scored points in the last 50 consecutive races – the entire duration of the Button-Lewis Hamilton partnership. If they continue to score points in the next six races they’ll beat Ferrari’s record of 55 consecutive points finishes though, again, this record mostly covers races where points only went down to sixth.

Third place for Kimi Raikkonen was the first time he has finished the Belgian Grand Prix in any position other than first. He was classified 18th in 2008 having crashed with two laps to go.

Nico Hulkenberg achieved his highest race finish to date with fourth place. Both Toro Rosso drivers equalled their previous best finishes of eighth (Jean-Eric Vergne) and ninth (Daniel Ricciardo).

Three penalties in one weekend for Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado picked up three penalties in one weekend: a three-place grid penalty for impeding Hulkenberg, followed by two further penalties to be served in Italy.

That will give him a total of nine of the season so far as follows:

Race Penalty Infringement
Bahrain Grand Prix Five-place grid drop Gearbox change
Monaco Grand Prix Ten-place grid drop Collision with Perez in practice
Monaco Grand Prix Five-place grid drop Gearbox change
Canadian Grand Prix Five-place grid drop Gearbox change
European Grand Prix 20-seconds added to race time Collision with Hamilton
Hungarian Grand Prix Drive-through Collision with Di Resta
Belgian Grand Prix Three-place grid drop Impending Hulkenberg in qualifying
Belgian Grand Prix Five-place grid drop for Italian Grand Prix Jump start
Belgian Grand Prix Five-place grid drop for Italian Grand Prix Causing a collision with Glock

Maldonado also received a reprimand and fine for his collision with Perez at Silverstone. He had five penalties last year.

Review the year so far in statistics here:

Spotted any other interesting stats and facts from the Belgian Grand Prix? Share them in the comments.

2012 Belgian Grand Prix

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156 comments on Grosjean is first banned driver since Schumacher

  1. Girts (@girts) said on 3rd September 2012, 11:53

    Now I know why FIA haven’t banned Maldonado from a race yet, they don’t want to see him become a world champion.

  2. melkurion (@melkurion) said on 3rd September 2012, 12:09

    No team has scored a 1-2 yet this season, if this trend continues till the end of the season, it will be the first time since 1977 that no team has scored a 1-2 during a season. Tthere have been several years with just 1-2 scored since, but starting in 1978 at least one team as scored a 1-2 every year up untill 2011

  3. electrolite (@electrolite) said on 3rd September 2012, 12:21

    I think the COTD today sums the decision up the best. It seems it’s a bit of a knee-jerk reaction simply to shake all the youngsters up a little bit.

    But to be honest – let’s think, does the punishment fit the crime, or the consequences? Grosjean basically had a wall to the right of him. He turned towards that wall, where another driver was. Without looking to see if anyone was there. He did something similar at Monaco with Schumacher, where everyone was lucky something worse was avoided.

  4. HUHHII (@huhhii) said on 3rd September 2012, 12:25

    @keithcollantine I think here’s a small typo:
    “Mika Hakkinen was adjudged to be responsible for a first-lap crash in Germany, and was banned from the next race at Hockenheim.”
    The crash happened at Hockenheim, but Häkkinen was banned from 1994 Hungarian Grand Prix.

  5. djdaveyp85 (@djdaveyp87) said on 3rd September 2012, 12:36

    This is the first race where Martin Brundle has worn a hard hat on his grid walk and to top it off, his prediction was totally correct!

  6. DavidBR 2 said on 3rd September 2012, 12:38

    The last driver to be banned was Schumacher in 1994. But Schumacher apparently escaped a black flag (and maybe a heavier penalty such as a one race ban) for his move on Barrichello at Hungary 2010 only because it was near the end of the race.

    In Grosjean’s case, I think the ban is justified and he’s lucky it wasn’t three given his track record. He doesn’t seem malicious or deliberately dangerous, a la Schumacher, but there was something weird about the way he went for Hamilton. I don’t think he took him out on purpose, but maybe he’d been instructed to block him (e.g. for Raikonnen’s sake) if he, Grosjean, got a better start.

    • If the would have wanted to ban Schumacher, they could have after Hungary. They didn’t, so it was never going to happen.

  7. alexf1man (@alexf1man) said on 3rd September 2012, 12:44

    All of Ferrari’s 55 consecutive races (1999 Malaysian GP – 2003 Malaysian GP) had at least one top 6 finish in every race – and Michael Schumacher scored in all but 6 of them… as for McLaren, only 5 of theirs were outside the top 6 (one in 2010, the rest in 2012)

  8. But Massa was not excluded – he had been handed a grid penalty so the team chose to replace him with Heinz-Harald Frentzen.

    I was trying to find out more about this, because it struck me as an odd response to a grid penalty. Here’s an article with some further information, in case anyone is curious about the details like I was:

    http://www.motorsport.com/f1/news/frentzen-may-replace-massa-at-usgp/

  9. davidhunter13 (@davidhunter13) said on 3rd September 2012, 13:32

    A lot of people seem to think the race ban is unfair and is being decided by the severity of the accident which followed rather than his error which caused the accident. While I can see where they’re coming from I think Grosjean has clearly been in too many first lap incidents, as if he’s maybe a bit too nervous/excited and I think it’s right he gets a serious wake up call so he’ll hopefully calm down in future and be more careful. The fact is he had tons of space around him, more than you normally would stuck in the thick of it right at the start, but still he absent mindedly went across onto Hamilton, who could do nothing, wheels touched and that was that.

    Fact is what would people be saying today if yesterday they’d seen Alonso’s helmet rolling about on the ground after the crash, it was so close and we are truly lucky it wasn’t worse because, with a fraction of a second difference this could have been a tragedy, and it would be Grosjeans fault due to his unnecessary mistake. Accidents happen, and in the heat of battle they can be unavoidable, but normally they happen when maybe just two cars are in the vicinity, the dangers ultimately are less. At the very beginning of a race it is up to every one of these highly paid professional drivers at the peak of their profession to drive with safety in mind, always safety in mind above aggression. I like Grosjean but he has to think sometimes, or learn to think in the heat of the moment, same with Maldonado, otherwise, frankly they should not be allowed to race.

  10. james2488 (@james2488) said on 3rd September 2012, 13:44

    I guess this means Lotus will be running a new driver for the next race ?

  11. Bobby Balboa (@bobby-balboa) said on 3rd September 2012, 15:09

    The difference being RG will never be World Champion no matter how many races he gets banned for GP2 style driving.

    I was at Spa in 2009 only to have RG take out LH & JA take out JB on the 1st lap. We didn’t even get to see them drive past in racing trim. With KR cheating using KERS off the track to get to 2nd it was a total disappointment.

    They need to have a sit down with RG & PM to name a few & give them a lesson in driving because it seems they just crack under pressure or just down have the skills needed for F1. I had completely rote off RG his 1st time in F1 but this time around he’s had some great drives when he manages to go longer than the 1st 5 laps!!!

    Just on another note. If Massa is driving a Ferrari next year then you can expect more disappointment. Ok he had a good race today but only because so many drivers at the front retired. His race winning days are more than over & regardless of how little experience SP has he would still do a far better job in a Ferrari

  12. vjanik said on 3rd September 2012, 15:13

    i dont think people would be disputing the race ban if Alonso got badly hurt. the fact that he didnt get badly hurt is just pure luck. on that basisi the race ban is fully justified. just because nobody happened to get injured, or that Maldonado driver carelessly also, shouldn’t have an effect on the penalty that was handed out.

    Grosjean’s starts are like mine when i play on my playstation.

  13. Another trivial note: there have been two races which were #300 for a driver, both held at Spa and both saw Fernando Alonso in his Ferrari getting hit on the first lap.

  14. sumedh said on 3rd September 2012, 16:19

    Wasn’t Yuji Ide banned in 2006 for a few races?

  15. andrew simmons said on 3rd September 2012, 16:22

    Felipe Massa was banned in 2002 and missed the United States Grand prix.

  16. Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 3rd September 2012, 16:30

    I wonder if Jackie Stewart’s offer still stands – of some driver coaching for Grosjean?

    I didn’t much like the self-publicising way Stewart originally asked the question, but surely it can only do some good. The drivers with a feel for the history of the sport – including Webber, Button, Vettel, Alonso – seem to be more respectful of fellow competitors.

    • I wouldn’t count Vettel among those 3 for the same reason I would count Hamilton. They are both very aggressive and sometimes too much, just not as ignorant and careless as Grosjean. Instead I would say that the most respectful of fellow drivers are currently Alonso, Button, Webber, Raikkonen and Rosberg. Can’t really remember more than 1 or 2 crashes caused by them in their whole careers and 4 of them have raced in F1 about 10 years or so.

      • Meant to say that those 5 haven’t caused many crashes that involved any other cars than their own. They too have definitely wrecked quite a bit of their own cars.

      • Bullfrog (@bullfrog) said on 4th September 2012, 14:12

        Raikkonen – good call, he’s probably the cleanest of them all this year. He’s not as openly enthusiastic about F1’s past as the guys I mentioned, but I think the appreciation is there, if you read his quotes about Spa and other favourite tracks.

        Vettel did leave a trail of wreckage a few years ago, but I think he’s improved a lot. No doubt two world championships makes a driver a bit less desperate. Certainly his moves around the outside of the chicane at Spa are better than 2 years ago!

  17. paulgilb (@paulgilb) said on 3rd September 2012, 18:28

    Lewis Hamilton has kept alive his record of going off the track during every F1 race at Spa that he has competed in:

    2007: Forced wide on first lap by Alonso.
    2008: Took to the grass when Rosberg spun in front of him.
    2009: Collided with Grosjean on lap 1.
    2010: Went wide on a wet track.
    2011: Collided with Kobayashi and went down the escape road.
    2012: Collided with Grosjean on lap 1.

  18. F1Yankee (@f1yankee) said on 3rd September 2012, 18:38

    When his Jordan team appealed the ban it was increased to three races.

    LOL the good old days…

  19. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 3rd September 2012, 20:11

    I wonder if Maldonado bagged any penalties from broken gearboxes last year? If you take away those penalties he’s still on six, but it does skew things just a little.

  20. paulgilb (@paulgilb) said on 3rd September 2012, 22:17

    Just remembered another driver who received a ban – Hans Heyer for the 1977 Austrian GP, having started the previous race illegally (I believe he was not due to compete in Austria anyway).

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