Belgian GP: Grosjean suspended for first lap carnage at Spa
By Berthold Bouman
Romain Grosjean received a one-race suspension as the FIA Stewards deemed he was responsible for the first-lap carnage at the Belgian Spa-Francorchamps circuit this afternoon.
The FIA statement read, “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 was an extremely serious mistake and an error of judgement. Neither the team nor the driver made any submission in mitigation of penalty.”
The Frenchman also received a 50,000 Euro fine, Lotus meanwhile, have confirmed they will not appeal the Stewards decision. The 27-year old Grosjean indeed caused an accident which could have caused serious injuries to the ones involved: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), and both Sauber drivers Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi.
Grosjean steered to the right immediately after the start and almost squeezed Hamilton, who had nowhere to go, into the wall. When the two inevitably collided, his Lotus was launched into the air and slammed into the back of the Sauber of Kobayashi, while Hamilton crashed hard into the Ferrari of Alonso who by then had moved to the left a bit. Perez was then hit by Hamilton and Alonso and all four were out of the race.
Alonso was lucky not to be hit by Hamilton or Grosjean who both landed dangerously close near the cockpit of the Ferrari. Also Pastor Maldonado was involved in the incident because he had jumped the start, he had already passed Kobayashi but the latter hit the Venezuelan driver when Grosjean’s Lotus slammed into the Sauber.
Maldonado received a double grid penalty for the Italian Grand Prix, a five-place grid penalty for jumping the start, and another five-place grid penalty for crashing into the Marussia of Timo Glock at the restart. Maldonado accepted the decision and commented later, “I made a slight mistake at the start because the clutch slipped out of my hands before the red light switched off.”
Grosjean has also accepted his penalty and commented, “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.”
He explained what had happened from his point of view, “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.”
Hamilton comments on the start crash
Fernando Alonso was in the ‘wrong place’