Grosjean handed one-race ban for first-corner crash

2012 Belgian Grand Prix

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Romain 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.”

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2012 Belgian Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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

  1. Well, wouldn’t say that is harsh but one hell of an accident he made there

    1. Come on… Lewis’ refusal to get out of the throttle a hair was a major contributing factor. Typical hamilton. “I had the position”

      1. Well, I do not raelly support Hamilton, but in this case I am not sure he share any responsibility on that

      2. You have to be joking? There’s was nothing for Lewis to do? It amazes me how people find a way to blame him for anything.

        1. Exactly, he did not do anything wrong, and people just blame him for nothing.

        2. Well, sometimes things are his fault…

      3. Once their wheels were interlocked, there was nothing Hamilton could do. It’s simple physics. When unprotected wheels are interlocked, either car changing their relative speed causes the wheels to come into contact and lauches whichever one is moving faster. Hamilton is blameless in this one, he has a right to his space when he is at the edge of the track and maintaining position, it’s Grosjean’s responsibility to give him room and not chop him like he did.

      4. seriously @trev where did you expect hamilton to go? on the grass? what was Grosjean doing, cutting across as if he is the only driver on the track?

      5. WHAT! Hamilton did nothing wrong, Grosjean is the one that keeps changing sides on starts just like at that time he almost killed a few guys a long time ago, at monaco.

        1. It reminded me Monaco this year, when Grosjean touched weels with Alonso and forced Schumacher into the barrier:

      6. *facepalm*
        Going by that logic, Alonso should get a penalty for driving into Grosjean’s airborne car…

        1. 2 race ban for alonso surely ;-)

      7. Man! Hamilton to blame? Poor man, after this I will not be surprised if someone says Lewis Hamilton killed Jesus.

        1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
          2nd September 2012, 19:07

          and george mccartney

      8. Trev, I couldn’t possibly disagree with you more. I taped it and have watched it in slow motion over and over, and there was absolutely NOTHING that Hamilton had to do with that. You don’t have to “get out of the throttle” while going in a straight line, down a STRAIGHT, no where near a corner, to let some guy get in front of you because he comes over on top of you! You either hate Hamilton so badly that you can’t be rational, or you didn’t watch any of the replays to see what actually happened.
        Lewis was moving over to the right to avoid him to the point he was putting tires in the grass already…what could you possibly want him to do?

        1. lift

          You don’t have to keep your foot in it when someone has 80-90% passed you.

          You can lift a hair and go on to race. There are 44 laps to go to earn your place. If you’re hamilton, you have the skill and the cat to do it. (You did notice who won? )

          Why must you presume that anyone who makes a critical comment about Hamilton must “hate” him?

          1. Because there is a difference between a critical comment and an irrational one.

            If Hamilton did lift, for example… What’s to say a car behind him didn’t expect the lift (understandable, as they were nowhere near the corner), and rammed up behind Hamilton instead.

            He had no choice, and did the right thing.

            Don’t try and sound high and mighty with your criticisms… It’s just making you look dumb.

          2. Because you’re taking the most absurd stance of anybody who claims to like racing. Why would you lift off the throttle when you see a cat [sic] next to you? Because it might crash into you? If that was everybody’s stance, all the drivers would stay on the grid after the lights go out until their engines overheat, so as to avoid getting any closer to any other cars.

          3. You’re…………. Oh I can’t think of the word……oh yes, Hilarious!!?!

          4. I understand where you coming from, and we saw plenty of experienced drivers, lifting to avoid accident. Kimi in Valencia vs Maldonado comes to mind, actually Kimi saved Grosjean by doing so there.

            But to be fair, even if Lewis was very coservative, he just didn’t have time.

          5. @Trev: With hindsight, it would have been better for Ham to drop back. However, how on earth could he have predicted that Grosjean would have driven right into the side of him?

            By the time he would have had any clue of it even being a possibility, their wheels were interlocked and he was right on the edge of the circuit. He couldn’t have moved further over as this would have put him off the track, with the potential of causing an accident. He couldn’t have backed off, as that would have caused their wheels to come together, causing an accident. All he could reasonably do is maintain his position and hope that Grosjean did nothing stupid. He had only one course of action available to him, which he took, and he had to rely on the racing skills of the other driver.

            I see no reasonable alternative course of action Lewis could have taken. He had no way to know what Grosjean would do, and cannot be held accountable for this incident in any way. To blame him for it would be like blaming a pedestrian standing on the pavement for causing an accident when a driver mounts the pavement and runs into him: Sure, he could have prevented it by not being there, but how could he reasonably expect the car to be on the pavement in the first place?

      9. @trev Suggesting that Hamilton could have avoided the incident by lifting off the throttle is just plain wrong.

        By Grosjean’s own admission he hadn’t realised Hamilton was there. He moved over so quickly Hamilton had no chance to avoid contact. They overlapped wheels so quickly that even if he had enough time to get out of the throttle it would not have been sufficient to avoid contact.

        Hamilton did everything that could reasonably be expected of him. He was hard up against the line on the right-hand side of the track.

        If there was a scintilla of doubt about where blame for this accident lies the stewards would never have dreamt of imposing as swingeing a penalty as they did. One which was pretty easy to forecast even as the marshals were sweeping up the carbon fibre:

        1. Well said and fully correct. Had Hamilton lifted there, he would only have made Grosjean fly over his front wheel.

          Grosjean jumped for a gap on the complete opposite side of the track so fast he did not even get to see he was squeezing Hamilton there. Harsh, but one would hope this makes drivers get a tad more aware of their surroundings at the start. After all, Grosjean failed to notice Schumi next to him only a couple of races back (though there it was less of his fault, he was avoiding Alonso.)

      10. Wow. There are people that think Lewis had any blame in that incident? There’s a car doing 150 mph right barely 2 metres behind him. If he brakes, he gets rear-ended. Grosjean drove like a crazy bat, cutting across and pinning Lewis on the wall – some people would rather Lewis had found a way to melt into the wall.

        1. Yeah, but Grosjean didn’t really act like a crazy bat did he? I mean, in a chaotic start as it was, don’t you think it could be hard to keep track of the car behind to your right?

          I mean, it’s not like there’s much going on or anything. -.-

          You sir, are one of the wavvy arms brigade.

      11. Why would you lift off the throttle when you see a cat [sic] next to you? Because it might crash into you? If that was everybody’s stance, all the drivers would stay on the grid after the lights go out until their engines overheat, so as to avoid getting any closer to any other cars.

        @matt90 I’m still laughing at this comment now. Classic :-D

      12. What are you on about!??? The one coming from behind at full throttle, cutting the whole track and Lewis should have lift the throttle??? Amazing!

        1. cutting the whole track

          This kind of arm wavvy, it’s the other guys fault I feel is just as counter productive.

    2. I’d say it was phenomenally harsh. One race ban for cutting across someone’s front wing at the start? Good lord, half the field would have been banned by now. Ridiculous decision and I hope common sense prevails in time for him to race at Monza.

      1. In light of what Maldonado has been getting away with (as in driving clean into Perez and Hamilton on purpose), I’d have to completely agree with this comment. However, it should be noted this isn’t Grosjean’s first spat of reckless driving either, particularly at starts.

        1. I again have to agree, it seems a little harsh given how they have bearly peanlised Moldanardo (who IMO isn’t safe to drive an F1 car at all)… but Roman did take out 2 of the big players in the Championship in one foolish and stupid move that he didn’t need to make and caused probally the most dangerous accident yet, given how close his car came to Alonso’s head.

        2. Well spotted but we gotta look at Romain’s starts record. That boy moves all over the plane without care. But that penalty should be a warning to MAldonado, another bad move and he will get his due ban too.

        3. Agreed that Grosjean hasn’t been the cleanest, but he’s neither the most dangerous driver nor was this is the worst infringment of the year. Given what other drivers have done this year (both deliberately and accidently), I don’t see how retroactively going nuclear on this particular driver is either sportingly fair to Grosjean’s championship or going to improve driving standards anymore than any strict whole-field initiative implemented by the stewards for the rest of the season would.

          Personally I don’t feel that Grosjean has earned a one-race ban this year. Coupled with the fact that others certainly have, I don’t agree with the reasoning behind this decision whatsoever.

      2. I don’t think it is too harsh, but I was surprised at the ban, purely because it’s not consistent with how other collisions have been dealt with. However, I have to take issue with @hey “cutting across someone’s front wing at the start”. Grosjean did not cut across Hamilton’s front wing – if he had, it would have been easier for Hamilton to get out of it by braking. Grosjean appeared to be trying to drive Hamilton off the track, although he has since said he didn’t realise Hamilton was there. Clearly the stewards thought there was something to it.

      3. watch it again but no at bbc watch it a t sky.

    3. Wow that’s harsh….

      They’re usually pretty lenient at the start and to me that just looked like one of those things… yes Grosjean caused it but that is one hell of a punishment…

      When was the last time a one-race ban was handed out and what for ? Bet it was for something much more significant than this incident.

      1. I’m not sure, but the last one was probably Schumacher’s two race ban in ’94, or Hakkinen’s ban that same year, whence he brake-checked 2 cars.

  2. Can’t say I didn’t see that coming. Definatly deserved.. It was a stupid move!

    1. Yes, at that moment while watching the start at BBC (again awful commentary) i told my father that he would get a race ban, my father replied saying that one would be too little punishment, and now it’s confirmed, no surprise if we remind monaco, he drives like a total rookie on starts, it reminds me of drivers of the early 2000’s.

      1. You are referring of course to the rookie LH.

        1. Good old Trevor

          1. Just sayin… hamilton was well known for his rookie incidents. Yes he has learned as hopefully, RG will.

        2. Really? OMG you cannot even hide you’re a Hamilton hater.

          1. @jcost
            Hamilton hater? Me? Hardly. As I said above, hamilton was well known for his rookie incidents. Yes he has learned . Look back at his early F1 history.

            Like many drivers he made mistakes, crashed out etc. etc.

            He’s better now but like most great drivers there is a tremendous ego attached and an “I can do no wrong” defensiveness about him.
            Shumaker was no different in his prime. Still a hard one to pass. Villeneuve?

            Chill out man.

          2. Canada pit lane crash was amussing. Luckly he crashed in Kimi :)

            Hamilton is x100 better driver this season though.

        3. @trev no other way to say this… You’re ridiculous

          Hamilton was one of the best starters in his rookie year. He was one of the most exciting overtakers, with some remarkable moves well before DRS. He may have gone straight into a fast car but how many other drivers have come 2nd in the WDC in their rookie year by one point? Surely to do that you have to avoid mistakes? I suppose he made far too many mistakes in his second year too? Your lack of impartiality is pitiful

          1. Running a red light in the pit exit to take out Kimi and himself…. priceless

          2. @trev still less mistakes in his rookie year than the majority of other top drivers

            What was it? 7 or 8 straight podiums in his rookie year… Unprecedented

          3. un-precendented I think not. villeneuve 1996 rookie 13 podiums

          4. +1,000,000

          5. @trev either way he was still impressive as a rookie. You do realise that the year he crashed into raikonnen that he won the WDC? How can that be “too many mistakes”?

          6. @trev actually Lewis had 9 podiums in a row. Villeneuve had a max of 7 in a row. Even if we were to consider a misunderstanding for simply the number of podiums throughout their rookie years, Lewis had 12 and Jacques had 11.

          7. Blah Blah Blah….

            Mayn drivers make mistakes.

            Lets focus less on who, and more on what it means, for example, in the past the stewards have been very lenient at the starts, does this signal the end of that?

        4. Rookie error there. Know your “early” and “late”.

  3. Completely the right decision. Is he allowed to be replaced for Monza?

    1. Bans apply to the official team entry against a driver. So whatever car# Grosjean’s drives, along with it’s entered driver, gets the ban. No replacement, at last Raikkonen’s going to get the preferential treatment ;-)

      1. Thank you.

      2. thats not actually true, expect the reserve driver D’Ambrosio to drive Grosjeans car in Monza

        1. He was talking about it to Buxton during the GP2 commentary, certainly would not have thought it would happen that soon, nor with this team!

      3. The ban was applied to the driver not the team – so they can race the car

      4. I think the ban excludes the driver from the next race, not his car. As far as I can tell, his car doesn’t exist in 1 piece anymore :P

        1. JimmyTheIllustratedBlindSolidSilverBeachStackapopolis III
          2nd September 2012, 17:31

          apparently this is all that is left of it

          1. Nah it’s still good to go.

      5. “Lotus can install a replacement driver for the Monza race. Their reserve is former Marussia driver Jerome D’Ambrosio.” (Taken from the Officilal F1 Website)

        1. I cannot wait to see Jerome in a competitive car

      6. @f1lunatic

        Bans apply to the official team entry against a driver. So whatever car# Grosjean’s drives, along with it’s entered driver, gets the ban.

        No they don’t, Lotus can and no doubt will replace Grosjean with whoever they choose for Monza.

    2. @alfie Yes. The driver is banned, not the team.

    3. Can’t wait to see D’Ambrosio partner Raikkonen for Monza. I wonder how the Belgian will perform in a (fairly) competitive car on such a great circuit. It’s such a great opportunity for him to prove his worth. I hope he does a Kobayashi in 2009 and gets Gorsjean’s seat permanently.

      1. Not the best way to get there for Jerome but surely a good opportunity for him specially at this time with lots of discussion for next year …
        I see this ban as an “Enough” from the steward and a big warning to Maldonado as well, but this crash had quite another dimension than those of Pastor (Even if we can discuss the volontary hitting other cars).

      2. Would have been cooler if Grosjean was banned for Spa instead (in a hypothetical kind of way, as that was where the incident was), and then Jerome got to race in a fairly competitive car at his home GP.

  4. A little harsh. Then again, it was his 6th first lap incident of the season. Even Maldonado has not done the same crime 6 times.

    1. Maldonado gets 10 place grid penalty

    2. I agree, I always joke that Romain crash on fist lap, but when I saw the accident and how terrible could have been for Alonso and other drivers involve it was time for FIA to do someting drastic, is his second time in F1 and none other driver has had so many incidents…

      1. I have said it number of times before (and it wasn’t a joke), and I still do not understand how Romain has not learned a lesson. It needs to be hammaerd into his skull. He shouldn’t be in F1 if he does not know how to respect the field, especially at start of the race. It is so crucial to be extra careful under those circumstances, every driver knows that, even if you have to lose a position – you lose a positon. Do what Alonso does, yield and regain later.

    3. +1.

      His video-game starts were becoming a major problem, that’s why he got such penalty.

      1. +1
        He thought he could just choose “Restart Race”…

        1. @snafu lol, good one

      2. “His video-game starts”

        Yep, that about sums it up.

  5. I knew this is coming. That was too aggressive, careless, dangerous. I think it would be remarkable signal for naughty guns.

    1. The logic of penalties is trying to correct wrongdoings so I hope GRO learns from it he starts being more careful. Today he put Alonso’s physical integrity at risk.

  6. Well I can pretty much understand the FIA’s decision (hopefully it’s not overturned), think it was mainly influenced by the intensity of the incident that could’ve potentially resulted in injuries for Alonso, I hope it serves as a period for Grosjean to really think about how he approaches his race starts & I hope this serves a warning for Maldonado as well.

    1. @younger-hamii the fact that the incident ended up so intense and so dangerous cannot be put to blame on Grosjean. heaven knows ive seen way more dangerous driving at starts in the past. Thats something the FIA should look at, not the driver. The ban is too harsh. I bet that Ferrari had ALOT so say to the stewards afterwards, probely influencing their decision more then we’d know. I wonder what we all would be saying if it happend at the back of the grid between a HRT and a Marussia

      1. I was wondering when someone would come and point Ferrari for influencing the stewards in this ban

  7. Feels a little bit harsh. Bad driving, but arguably no more dangerous than other moves seen at the start in the past, it’s just the consequences were more severe… would he have got the same penalty if back-markers had been taken out instead? Also In comparison to dangerous driving with intent (Maldonado…), I would have thought a grid penalty would have sufficed.

    1. dangerous driving with intent (Maldonado…)

      Not a long time ago, a car from the same team crashed, it DID have an intent, and a very nasty one at that. What’s to say that Grosjean was *not* instructed to create some sort of a confusion, only like you pointed out, the consequences turned out to be near-disastrous!

      and yeah, im sure the nay-sayers were in their full force post 2008 singapore gp too, to bark down any such theory, only to have their woofs blunted when the FIA revealed the truth later.

      1. With their track record, I can understand why you suggest this was deliberate, but in this case I actually think that he was somewhere between careless and reckless – I would be shocked if he *intended* this crash. I just think that he failed to take into account that Hamilton wouldn’t be prepared to give way to him…

        1. Hamilton was just as responsible for not giving way. Grosjean had overtaken him.

          1. Think you’ll find you’re in the minority with that opinion

          2. Actually this is an important point, I lost the beggining of the race because in my country the race was at 6:00am, so my older brother send me a text message to turn on the tv, he told me that he thought that Hamilton was at fault… before the penalty I thought that it was both Ham and Gro. Hamilton for not lifting and Grosjean for being over optimistic…

          3. I`m reading the blogs from Fox Sport Latin America, they are saying the incident was at least 40% Hamilton, 60% Grosjean….

          4. GRO should have given Lewis room and Lewis should have backed out of it.
            That being said, but not giving room GRO was in the wrong from a rules point of view. But not backing off, Lewis was in the wrong from a points point of view. In that regard, Lewis has already been penalised.

          5. Once their wheels were interlocked, there was nothing Hamilton could do. It’s simple physics. When unprotected wheels are interlocked, either car changing their relative speed causes the wheels to come into contact and lauches whichever one is moving faster. Hamilton is blameless in this one, he has a right to his space when he is at the edge of the track and maintaining position, it’s Grosjean’s responsibility to give him room and not chop him like he did. To suggest that Hamilton should’ve come out of the throttle much earlier is ludicrous. Just because Grosjean has most of his car ahead does not free him from his responsibility to maneuver safely. In the middle of such a packed group funnelling into one of the slowest corners on the schedule, it is insane to believe you can move laterally at will. It’s called “situational awareness.” With such a short run to the first corner there is no time to check your mirrors as you brake to a near stop in such traffic. This is a race. You are racing only to a patch of real estate at the start, you have a responsibility to do it safely. Penalty completely deserved IMO.

          6. Just a couple weeks ago Whiting clarified the rules on passing. No significant part of the car should be beside you before you cut them off. Grosjean clearly did not pass Hamilton completely, Hamilton had nowhere to go but on the soaked grass. Anyone putting blame on Hamilton has an agenda against him. He is entitled to his part of the track.

          7. Well said Kully…

          8. really do not understand this point of view at all… seems pretty silly to me. Lewis had moved over to the side but had little where else to go, maybe half a foot… Roman pushed him over to the side but was not fully pass him and the rules state that if a substancial part of the other car is along side you cannot push them off the track, which is exactally what he tried to do.

            Lewis did nothing wrong defended as best he could and Roman drove into the side of him as if he didn’t know he was there and nearly seriously ingured one of this generations greatest drivers and champions….

          9. @trev and @infy – Grosjean hadn’t properly overtaken Lewis at the point that they hit. Why should Lewis have to “back out” or “give way”? What form should that “giving way” have taken, given where Lewis was on the track?

            Definitely Grosjean’s fault, but I think the one race ban is a harsh penalty compared to those meted out for more deliberate transgressions by e.g. everyone’s favourite Venezuelan.

          10. @celeste I didn’t think there was more proof required to show that nobody should read, watch, or trust anything Fox news related.

          11. @dirgegirl Because if Lewis didn’t back out of it, he would be in an accident.

            What I tried to say in my terribly written post, was that while Lewis did nothing wrong from a RULES point of view, if he had backed out of it, he would have probably finished the race in the points.

            GROS being in the wrong is not going to give Lewis his points back.

          12. @infy it wasn’t clear that grosjean was going to continue moving right until it was too late. By the time it was clear the wheels were interlocked. I’d be surprised if any other driver would have anticipated the move. This type of move has been made illegal because it leaves the other driver defenceless, causes avoidable incidents, and can be easily proven who is at fault

          13. @Trev – every response on this subject from you is anti-hamilton. It was so clearly Romain ‘fatjohn’ that was at fault and its making your comments hilarious

            You could just write something along the lines of “I hate Hammy” instead of trying to mask your feelings by shunting the blame in his direction!

        2. @matt90 well, is the Latin American channel, and they have no vias in this incident… I won`t say that is Hamilton`s fault, but certanly a lot of people think he could have done a little more to aboid the accident…

          1. Those people are wrong. Categorically. Hamilton was at fault as much as Alonso and Perez.

          2. @celeste, when you have seen it you will realize that Hamilton tried his best to avoid Grosjean but had no-where to go except into the wall, even if he managed to get onto the grass and keep it straight he would have been unable to brake for the corner and would have been involved in the same sort of crash. Hamilton in this case was totally innocent victim.

          3. @hohum I already saw it… what I found interesting, is that not only me, but people iwth lot of expetience are also placing some blame in Hamilton…

          4. If these people you speak of actually have experience, I fear for everybody they will ever race against. I assume they would only say that because they have often driven like Grosjean, caused huge crashes, and so wrongly apportioning blame now is the only way they can justify to themselves that they weren’t solely to blame for the chaos they caused. This isn’t a matter of opinion- Hamilton was as much at fault for that incident as I am. This is probably the clearest cut racing incident I’ve ever seen, and it is both phenomenal and slightly worrying that people still find a way to blame an innocent party.

          5. It amazes me how could someone still blame Hamilton for that. I am starting to believe that there is an anti-Hamilton league out there

    2. @legnig makes a good point. i disliked the mention of ‘taking out leading championship competitors’ – it should have no bearing on the punishment who is involved. however, a one-race ban is a good idea, and should have been applied to other incidents (maldonado at spa last year, monaco this, for deliberately attacking another car, should have warran