Grosjean ban ‘not just for affecting the championship’

2012 F1 season

Start, Spa-Francorchamps, 2012FIA stewards have given rare insight into how penalties are decided in a feature for the FIA’s new magazine Auto.

One of the most contentious decisions of the season was Romain Grosjean’s one-race ban for causing a collision at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix which removed himself, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez from the race.

Grosjean’s ban, the first for an F1 driver in 18 years, attracted much discussion at the time, particularly over the stewards’ admission that it was levied in part because “it eliminated leading championship contenders from the race”.

FIA Institute deputy president Garry Connelly, who served as a steward at the several races this year including the Belgian Grand Prix, explained the thinking behind Grosjean’s ban:

“That incident could have completely changed the outcome of the FIA’s premier championship. But what Romain got the extra penalty for was not that, or at least not wholly for that.

“When you’re a relatively new driver to Formula One and you have the privilege of driving in a potentially winning or podium finish car, you’re mixing it with a group of drivers who have many years more experience than you do at the sharp end of the field.

“It therefore behoves you, in our view, to exercise greater care and attention because you are, in our view, with all due respect, the new kid on the block and maybe a little out of your league compared with the guys around you at that end of the grid.

“It was a very serious decision and one that was taken only after lengthy weighting of the facts, the evidence, history, everything. However, every decision weighs heavily on the stewards’ minds. No decision to penalise a driver is ever taken lightly.”

Driver stewards “revolutionary and outstanding”

Connelly praised the addition of former drivers as stewards, a practice which began in 2010, as “one of the most revolutionary and outstanding initiatives taken in the sport for years”.

“It brings a depth of experience and knowledge to the stewards’ room that is irreplaceable,” he added. “The drivers take it seriously too. They are constructive and they are, in some cases, tougher than the toughest stewards I’ve worked with.”

How far stewards should use their discretion when applying penalties, and whether there should be fixed punishments for certain transgressions, remains a point of debate. During the drivers’ briefing for the Korean Grand Prix several competitors voiced a desire for all incidents involving one driver impeding another to result in a five-place grid penalty.

At the previous event in Suzuka Jean-Eric Vergne received a three-place penalty for holding up Bruno Senna while Sebastian Vettel was given a reprimand for impeding Alonso.

Alonso later said the decision was partly to blame for him losing the championship to Vettel, describing the awarding of a reprimand as “surprising”.

The FIA is also considering introducing a points-based penalty system where drivers would receive points on their licence for infractions and an automatic race ban would be imposed if they reach a certain figure. The proposal has Jean Todt’s backing but race director Charlie Whiting believes more discussion is needed to come up with a satisfactory solution.

2012 F1 season


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61 comments on Grosjean ban ‘not just for affecting the championship’

  1. ECWDanSelby (@ecwdanselby) said on 8th December 2012, 14:32

    Don’t think that message comes across too well. Surely there’s a standard that all drivers need to meet to compete in F1, not as case of ‘oh, the new guy is mixing it with the best. He should respect them even more so’.

    I think that rubs people up the wrong way. At least it did for me, anyway.

    • N7 (@m77) said on 8th December 2012, 14:55

      completely agreed. a punishable driving offense is a punishable driving offense, regardless of who else was caught up in it.

    • Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 8th December 2012, 15:03

      It doesn’t sit with me well at all. Formula One is all about competition, where all drivers are to be treated equal by the rules and their enforcers. Surely Grosjean should be told to exercise the same degree of caution and care from the front of the grid to the back? I don’t like the precedent this justification may set – giving greater deference to older or more successful drivers and giving harsher penalties to the more inexperienced or less successful drivers who have an incident involving them.

      Let’s have one set of rules and equal application of those rules no matter who is involved.

      • Yes, it should be the same amount of caution from back to front there is a reason why the top runners are not constantly crashing around like this. To me the point of the statement is that without the added experience skill of these guys more caution is needed in order to race of their terms.

        Is it necessarily under a different set of rules if you are not receiving the same penalty for taking out a car that will never manage to score a point as for taking out the championship contender, in this case arguably changing the outcome of it all? I believe not; as long as anyone is penalized equally for equal offenses.

      • M Dickens (@sgt-pepper) said on 30th December 2012, 14:21

        Absolutely agree, but I also agree with the one-race ban – not because of who was involved, but because Grosjean is getting so dangerous he’s started putting lives at serious risk (Alonso was almost decapitated).

    • Mads (@mads) said on 8th December 2012, 15:11

      @ecwdanselby
      Yeah.
      After all, this is their safety we are talking about. Its not cheating, or anything which only affects the sporting outcome. This is human lives. And it just feels wrong to punish someone harder because they are endangering the drivers with the highest pay checks and the best resumes, because they are more important… I know that isn’t the reason, my tinfoil hat is still securely locked in my closet, but it does come across like that anyway. Which is unfortunate, because I guess this was supposed to explain that that was not the case, but I don’t think it helped one bit.

    • Nick.UK (@) said on 8th December 2012, 15:51

      I think you’ve misunderstood what was meant. It is assumed for the sake of argument that the drivers at the top end of the field will be more careful than the ‘new boys’ and that they have the correct degree of skill and attention to race hard and without incident (Webber/Alonso etc). It is this standard that drivers need to meet, it’s a standard that new drivers on the grid possibly don’t have, and thus they need to be controlled carefully in the event they start wrecking off title contenders.

      At least that’s how I interpreted it.

    • Ron Mon (@henslayer) said on 8th December 2012, 16:12

      If you live in town and take a gun into your back yard and fire it into a tree, you will get charged for illegally discharging a weapon. If you miss the tree and accidentally kill your neighbor you will get charged with manslaughter. If you intentionally shoot and kill your neighbor you get charged with murder.

      The same act with differences only of intent and results but three different crimes. Like it or not, that’s how laws work.

      • Brace (@brace) said on 8th December 2012, 16:52

        COTD right there!

      • Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 8th December 2012, 16:55

        But there shouldn’t be a difference in the crime if you accidentally murder a homeless beggar or a successful businessman. That’s what the FIA stewards did – differentiated the penalty not based solely on the infringement committed, but on who it affected. That is not how laws are supposed to work.

      • Mark (@marlarkey) said on 8th December 2012, 21:39

        If you go into your backyard and fire a gun at a tree and accidentally kill your neighbour… you don’t get a different punishment according to who your neighbour is… if your neighbour is an ordinary joe you get one punishment, if they are celebrity you get the same punishment, if they are running for Mayor you get the same punishment.

        Your punishment doesn’t vary according to who the victim is…

        At least that’s how justice should work… maybe it works differently in your part of the world – maybe in your part of the world you do get punished differently according to who the victim is ?

        • Sadly, I don’t think that’s how he world works. If a rich person is killed the sanctions tend to be more severe, as was perhaps the case with the Spa incident. Power talks.

          • Colossal Squid (@colossal-squid) said on 8th December 2012, 22:59

            While I agree that the world probably does work like that, that doesn’t mean it should be openly justified by the authorities. In this case the FIA shouldn’t come out and say ‘we treat differently similar incidents depending on the drivers/teams involved’. Doing so undermines the legitimacy and fairness of the rules themselves.

          • Neither did I! :)

        • @colossal-squid – oh I agree entirely, I was just referring to the off-topic discussion about killing your neighbour! Whether the car is green and yellow or red shouldn’t matter – it was a dangerous manoeuvre which could’ve so easily injured or killed drivers so the fact it affected the championship shouldn’t even have crossed the steward’s minds.

      • Drop Valencia! said on 9th December 2012, 21:58

        I think if you are an Olymic gold medalist at shooting, the law and your neighbours will turn a blind eye to your shooting at a tree, but if you are a new neighbour, the cops will be on the way!

      • MagillaGorilla (@magillagorilla) said on 10th December 2012, 19:18

        @Ron Mon Um okay…The analogy really is out of left field. The issue is certain drivers will take precedence over others due to length of time driving. If this happened to De La Rosa, Petrov and Perez the idea is thus given to us that a ban for Grosjean wouldn’t happen because, they aren’t championship contenders and aren’t at the top end of the heap.

        So the issue is certain people are looked upon as more important than others. When the true issue that isn’t said, is safety. Rather instead of punishing him for causing a stupid wreck that could have been much more dire, it is due to him not being in the old gentleman’s club long enough.

        And then this leads us to further ask other questions about the punishments passed. Which could explain the inconsistency

    • drmouse (@drmouse) said on 10th December 2012, 12:00

      Surely there’s a standard that all drivers need to meet to compete in F1, not as case of ‘oh, the new guy is mixing it with the best. He should respect them even more so’.

      I have mixed views on this.

      The main point I could make against you, here, involves UK driving licenses. I am playing devil’s advocate, here.

      For information, in the UK if you break traffic laws you normally end up with points on your license. If you get too many (12, I think, is the normal limit) in 3 years, you will normally receive a ban.

      However, when you are a new driver, you have a limit of 6 points within the first 2 years. You are basically on probation for this first 2 years. If you show yourself to be flouting the rules of the road, you have your license taken off you.

      It could be considered that the stewards are applying similar reasoning. If you are more harsh on those who are new to F1, it should cause them to be more careful and become better drivers.

      As I said, this is not my opinion, I’m just playing devil’s advocate.

  2. Osvaldas31 (@osvaldas31) said on 8th December 2012, 14:33

    “When you’re a relatively new driver to Formula One and you have the privilege of driving in a potentially winning or podium finish car, you’re mixing it with a group of drivers who have many years more experience than you do at the sharp end of the field.

    “It therefore behoves you, in our view, to exercise greater care and attention because you are, in our view, with all due respect, the new kid on the block and maybe a little out of your league compared with the guys around you at that end of the grid.”

    I remember Hamilton in his first and second seasons. At one point he started collecting penalties quite quickly. He was inexperienced then and driving one the fastest (if not the fastest) cars on the grid.

  3. He deserved the ban irrespective of who he took out. It was absolute carnage and all his fault by squeezing Hamilton off the track. He showed after the ban, that even though he was trying to be careful he still can’t avoid accidents.

    You compare that to Kobayashi’s reflex’s in Brazil at the start where Vettel got spun around, he managed to avoid a big crash through his ability. If Grosjean had been there, BAM! Vettel would have been taken out and Alonso would be world champion.

    Incidentally in 2009, during his first shot at F1 he drove into the back of Button on the first lap of Spa. Yes, he took out the championship leader in his rookie year, which also resulted in Hamilton and Alguesuari coming together and crashing out.

    You compare that once again to Kobayashi coming in for 2 races in 2009, he held off Button in Brazil for like 10 laps and drove hard but fair. He then had a great race in Abu Dhabi where he scored his first points.. In both races he finished ahead of Grosjean and he had way less time in his Toyota.

    So, why hasn’t Lotus signed Kobayashi up already? Oh yeah, Koba doesn’t have Total sponsorship backing.. What a pile of crock.

  4. Fer no.65 (@fer-no65) said on 8th December 2012, 15:15

    Not much of an argument, really… THey should’ve sticked with: “it was a massive incident, which could’ve had very serious consequences. And it’s not the first time he’s been involved in first lap incidents”.

    It’d have been fairer than “he took out championship leading drivers”.

  5. JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 8th December 2012, 15:38

    I read this hoping for more insight into the decision and to be told that it affecting championship contenders hadn’t been an important factor – but in actual fact what Connelly actually says is

    what Romain got the extra penalty for was not that, or at least not wholly for that

    In other words, that was a significant factor but not the only factor. LJ above tries to defend the ban by going into detail about the incident. From comments at the time I don’t think the ban itself was all that contentious, but rather the fact that who he took out was considered an important factor.

    I also agree with @colossal-squid – they give all of these guys a superlicence and as far as I’m aware there are no sub-categories, in which case they should be treated equally. It’s up to the top teams to decide who they want to put in their car (subject to the requirement to have a licence).

    • Robbie (@robbie) said on 10th December 2012, 19:22

      But the way I see it, RG created his own sub-category by going out there with a podium capable car, with his inexperience, and getting into several incidents before and after this main one we’re talking about in Belgium, so the stewards felt the need to sanction him. I don’t have a problem with it. I think usually it is top drivers on the top teams, but sometimes a lesser or inexperienced driver does land in a pretty good car. But to not take extra caution knowing you are going to be in there fighting with some pretty big names is not right nor respectful.

      Sure I agree that teams can put who they want in their cars, but that doesn’t mean those rookie drivers who luck into a pretty competitive package in a close field in a given year, should just go out there and be a hammer and not get a wake-up call when shoddy behaviour persists.

      This is not about different rules for different drivers…it’s about stewards being forced to do something about a specific inexperienced driver that was not taking enough caution in a car that happened to be podium worthy at most races. Most inexperienced (read also pay) drivers are in lesser cars and therefore get their experience relatively cleanly fighting amongst similar lesser cars/drivers. RG uniquely got to play among the top drivers and didn’t do well at it on several occasions. I’m glad F1 didn’t just turn a blind eye to that, and rather perhaps taught RG a lesson (I think whether he learned a lesson could be debated) or at least perhaps taught some up and comers something about the way it’s going to work in F1.

  6. Ben (@benchuiii) said on 8th December 2012, 15:52

    I believe Conelly is trying to say that Grosjean should recognise the fact that he is inexperienced and needs to be more aware of other cars around him, which is what more experienced drivers are able to do. Just compare the racecraft of the recent GP2 graduates with the 6 F1 champions this year.

  7. TED BELL said on 8th December 2012, 16:12

    Most young Formula One drivers make mistakes and it is the nature of humans to learn from said mistakes. So what if he was involved in so many situations in 2012. This guy has what it takes and will rise above the controversy. The example of the car shows that there is potential for results unlike riding around in an HRT or Marussia. Just let him race without all of the nonsenical warnings. If anything his unpredictable ways add much to a grid and provide a certain amount of excitement to any Grand Prix. in 2013 he could indeed become a true points stealer and we all know what that may mean.

    • Brace (@brace) said on 8th December 2012, 20:00

      They did “just let him race” at first, but after he managed to cause numerous crashes, they had to make him answer for his actions, just like everyone should.

      There’s no problem in letting anyone “just race”, nor is there a problem with letting anyone do whatever they want with their life and with their time, but the moment your actions start affecting other people, you are obviously denying them their own right to “just race” or do whatever it is that they were doing.

      • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 8th December 2012, 20:29

        @brace

        They did “just let him race” at first, but after he managed to cause numerous crashes, they had to make him answer for his actions

        I don’t agree. Yes he was involved in some incidents prior to Belgium but they were not all his fault and he was not penalised for any of them.

        It was only when one of the incidents he was involved in had an effect on the championship that they decided to ban him (see the breakdown here: How many first-lap crashes has Grosjean caused?).

        So from doing nothing they jumped straight to the nuclear option. I found that highly questionable.

        Particularly when another driver, Pastor Maldonado, caused a string of accidents during the same time and never came close to being dealt with as severely as Grosjean was.

        Maldonado hit another car while off the racing line during practice in Monaco, he took out a rival in Valencia (a championship contender, it must be noted, in light of the reason for Grosjean’s ban) and at Silverstone he lost control of his car and took out another driver yet received only a reprimand. And this is not an exhaustive list.

        I appreciate consistency is a difficult balance to strike but I think they were too soft on Maldonado and knee-jerk overreacted on Grosjean.

        • @keithcollantine – I think it was as much to do with the severity of the collision and the implications it could’ve (but thankfully didn’t) caused: we saw how close Grosjean’s car came to hitting Alonso, which could easily have proved fatal.

          I do agree though that, having not penalised him previously, a race ban seemed like a knee-jerk reaction. It may have been for the better though: in general the drivers calmed down a bit on the first lap, suddenly enlightened to the fact that the race isn’t only to the first corner. There seemed to be less first-lap collisions after Spa (albeit still some stupid moves were pulled however; Kobayashi in China and Grosjean in Japan for example) and so maybe the race ban served as a perfect opportunity to give warning to the drivers that causing such collisions is unacceptable.

        • Brace (@brace) said on 8th December 2012, 22:45

          @keithcollantine

          Where exactly don’t you agree with me. I didn’t say anything regarding that particular penalty, nor that all other accidents were his fault.

          And if you have a problem with the one of the life’s most common-sense views, that you can do whatever you want as long as it’s not at an expense of others (be it their physical well-being, their environment or something third), then I’m afraid I’d have to question your whole argument in this case.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 10th December 2012, 15:56

            @brace

            Where exactly don’t you agree with me.

            Here:

            They did “just let him race” at first, but after he managed to cause numerous crashes, they had to make him answer for his actions

            For the reasons explained in my comment.

            I didn’t say anything regarding that particular penalty

            You didn’t say anything about any specific penalties. I prefer to deal in specifics rather than generalities so I referred to an article which looked at all the penalties.

            And if you have a problem with the one of the life’s most common-sense views…

            This part makes me think you haven’t understood what I wrote because most of it contradicts my comment.

        • Krokko said on 10th December 2012, 15:21

          I completely agree with Keith. Being “involved” in accidents is absolutely not the same thing as to “cause” them!
          And they have to tell me why the identical manoeuvre of Alonso on Raikkonen in Japan was not even investigated (like that of Grosjean on Hamilton): they judge the driving fact, the consequences, the driver involved or what?

        • Robbie (@robbie) said on 10th December 2012, 19:54

          @Keith You make a compelling argument as usual…in this case, that perhaps “they were too soft on Maldonado and knee-jerk overreacted on Grosjean.”

          Your words immediately made me wonder…these drivers get interviewed by the stewards regarding these incidents, no? They get to tell their side of the ‘story’ regarding the incidents in question. I just wonder if RG seemed to not be ‘getting it’ when they talked to him. If there was something that said to the stewards, this guy is going to go out there and do it again because he’s not getting what we’re saying.

          Just looking for reasons why they would knee-jerk RG and go soft on PM other than the obvious taking out of some WDC contending drivers. I wonder if PM was saying the right things to the stewards like…you are right, I see what you are saying, I’ll be more careful next time, whereas RB was saying things like I don’t know what you mean, it was someone else’s fault, I’m here to race for the WDC and I’d do the same thing again. I could be off base, but I just wonder if we don’t know the whole story.

          Of course this could just simply be the usual inconsistancy in the enforcement of the rules. In 97 JV was banned from a race for yellow flag infractions, while MS was not given the treatened 3-race ban at the start of 98 for ‘interference with the WDC’ that Max had warned would be the penalty for any driver interfering with the fight for the title between JV and MS in Jerez 97.

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 10th December 2012, 20:22

            Technically JV was not banned from Luxemburg…he raced while the team appealed the yellow flag infraction, but they dropped their appeal and JV was disqualified from the race after the fact. No fifth place points, no pole position in the books, yet MS who had his 2nd place in the WDC wiped out as a ‘penalty’ for whacking JV in Jerez, got to keep his wins and poles and whatever other records.

  8. Racer (@racer) said on 8th December 2012, 20:11

    I don’t like the way this comes across. It should make no difference to the punishment whether it’s Grosjean taking out Alonso & Hamilton or Schumacher taking out Karthikeyan and Pic.

  9. Rich (@lebowskif1) said on 8th December 2012, 21:02

    If the stewards are inconsistent with the rules, on any basis, then there is an obvious lack of integrity. Teams and fans alike will lose respect for them, and potentially look to manipulate for their own ends. It’s already assumed to be the case in football by fans and popular media with referees opting to not award penalties to deserving players on the basis that said player has cheated in the past. I know this sounds a bit conspiratorial but let’s face it, money plays a huge factor. At one end of the field there are F1 teams obstructing changes trying to limit spending, whilst at the other there are teams saying goodbye because they have no money to spend. Also there is the sport vs spectacle factor, what generates more revenue? Are the stewards obliged to make decisions that protect revenue? Granted, Grosjean is inexperienced and was due a slapped wrist, but in this fans opinion it was by no means any worse than a lot of the big smashes we have witnessed over the preceding 18 years that never resulted in a ban.

  10. I think the FIA are completely correct in imposing strict sanctions on drivers after causing collisions comparable to the one caused by Grosjean. Alonso could’ve very easily lost his life had Grosjean’s car hit his helmet and if anything a race ban wasn’t enough: we saw that Grosjean then proceeded to hit Mark Webber in Japan a few rounds later.

    I hope Grosjean’s ban served as an ominous warning to any new GP2 graduates that conduct which is perhaps acceptable in the lower formulas isn’t acceptable at the highest level of motorsport. Rash moves and lapses of concentration can prove dangerous so in my opinion firm disciplinary action is necessary to prevent a repeat of Spa.

    Drivers such as Kimi Räikkönen have shown us many times how to act in close combat and the newer drivers could learn a lot by watching him; aggressive but knows when to back out!

    • Brace (@brace) said on 9th December 2012, 1:52

      Well, we’ve seen even in races after Spa that some of those gp2 guys just can’t keep out of trouble. I remember they managed to take out Webber buy causing a serious carnage in the middle of the road, at the beginning of the last sector. It was Perez, Grosjean and co. if I remember well.

      Watched the vid now. Besides Perez driving like a thug, thing with Grosjean is that he was unable to pay attention to more then one car again. His brush with Webber was completely unnecessary, but he needlessly swerved to the left after he touched Perez.

    • davidnotcoulthard said on 9th December 2012, 4:19

      Kimi…and I think Kobayashi should also be there……with the Korean GP being the anomaly (If I spelled that one right)

  11. The more the stewards explain their reasoning behind the Grosjean ban, the less convinced I am that they imposed the correct penalty.

  12. OmarR-Pepper (@omarr-pepper) said on 8th December 2012, 23:58

    If Alonso had lost his head (literally) in that crash, it would have been as punishable as if Kartikeyan or a replacing driver had, so the “clarification” of the ban is nonsense for me. I think the ban was well applied, but not for the “respect” he should have shown to Hamilton or Alonso, but for an innecesary, ruthless and dumb way to risk lives

  13. Brace (@brace) said on 9th December 2012, 2:04

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JHRsMoRfOA8

    If he actually doing what I think he’s doing at 1:18?!?!
    I think he is literary pushing other driver off the road. And I mean PUSHING. Not like squeezing him to the side, but pushing out of the road with the full 180 degrees to the right on his steering wheel.
    You get black-flagged for stuff like this even in the games.

    How is he allowed to keep racing after this? And this is GP2 for **** sakes! No wonder they come like lunatics out of there.

  14. rdpunk (@) said on 9th December 2012, 12:50

    As much as I respect there honesty and openness at this, but really it should be set in black or white rules. If you cause a multicar accident you will be banned. So what if he had hit someone else which wasn’t Alonso, does that make it fine? It shouldn’t be because he hit a title contender it should be because he caused a major accident.

  15. MazdaChris (@mazdachris) said on 10th December 2012, 8:58

    I don’t know that I agree with the idea of imposing a punishment based on what might have happened. In other words, what didn’t happen. Yes, it was possible that Alonso could have been seriously injured. But for a start, he wasn’t, and for second, there’s an equal (potentially greater in fact, chance that the incident could have had no consequences at all. But for a minor repositioning of Grosjean’s car, there may not have been a crash whatsoever. If you start playing the ‘what if’ game when you apply penalties, why do you look to unlikely scenarios with the worst possible outcome, when the likelihood is that actually the resulting crash was, if anything, more severe than was statistically likely. Don’t believe me? Consider then that Grosjean’s move was far from unusual. In fact, we saw Alonso pull off a virtually identical move a few races later, which did result in a crash but a far less spectacular one. When it’s Grosjean, we say isn’t it awful, everyone within a six mile radius could have been horribly killed, and potentially several million people could have been severely psychologically affected by seeing it on telly, and go on to require years pf psychotherapy before they’re able to function as normal human beings again, whereas when Alonso does basically the same thing it’s shrugged off because nothing bad happened. Nothing bad happened in Grosjean’s accident either, yet apparently he should be punished for things that didn’t happen?

    What I do think is concerning about the justification for the penalty is that Grosjean is an inexperienced driver who should be humble because of his position driving a front-running car, and not try too hard to tangle with the other leaders because of his inexperience which, in the opinion of the stewards, makes it more likely that he’ll make mistakes. Now, this is a driver who started in GP2 in 2008, four years ago, when he was the highest placed rookie. He first drove an F1 car in 2008, and drove a season in F1 in 2009. In 2011 he became champion in both GP2 and GP2 Asia. This is a guy who has won in every championship in which he’s competed, except for F1, and has been racing at the top level or the tier just below, for the past four (now five) years. And yet the stewards believe that he is inexperienced which will make him prone to dangerous mistakes.

    So, my question is this; what is the value of GP2 as a feeder series when one of its most successful champions of recent years, who has been driving at that level or higher for half a decade, is seen to be possessed of a dangerously underdeveloped set of racing skills? Surely the most basic requisite of a feeder series is to provide drivers who already have the requisite skills to be able to mix it safely at the top level of motorsports? If the feeder series fails in that one basic requirement, then there must be a very big problem with the administration and regulation of that feeder series. Drivers appear to be turning up in F1 who are unable to make even the most basic overtake without clattering into the side of another car. To my mind this highlights a very big problem with GP2. Just watch a race and see the kind of gung-ho, suicidal overtaking attempts which seem to end in crashes more often than not, and how they escape even the most basic penalty, to see exactly where this dangerous driving is learned.

    The only sensible conclusion is that GP2 is not at all fit for purpose, and the FIA need to have a major rethink about how drivers are nurtured in the supporting series, in order to ensure that the FIA SuperLicense remains the gold standard of driving, and provides a guarantee that the license holder is able to drive at the standard expected of every single driver on the F1 grid.

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