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Grosjean penalty was coming, say drivers
Posted By: James Allen  |  03 Sep 2012   |  8:49 am GMT  |  244 comments

It was interesting to speak to a few of the drivers privately after the race in Belgium and to hear that some of them welcomed the stewards’ tough stance on Romain Grosjean, banning him from the next race in Monza. One or two said that the ban should have been longer.

Clearly there is a problem here with two drivers in particular: Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado. Their fellow drivers are upset with their repeated incidents involving other drivers and don’t feel safe racing against them.

Grosjean has been involved in incidents at the start in Australia, Malaysia and Monaco among seven in total and, like Maldonado, has clearly been punished by the stewards this weekend as a way of making them take a long hard look.

A racer’s instinct is one thing, but it’s costing their teams valuable points and is a concern for other drivers.

Maldonado was handed a five place grid penalty at the next race in Monza for jumping the start today and another 5 place penalty for causing an accident with Glock at the restart. This was on top of a three place grid penalty yesterday for blocking Hulkenberg. He has had quite a few run-ins with other drivers, particularly Lewis Hamilton.

An hour or so before the stewards’ decision was announced, Fernando Alonso was asked whether he felt that the stewards should take some decisive action with Grosjean. Alonso was almost taken out by the Frenchman at the start in Monaco and was taken out by him today. He said,

“It may be a good opportunity. It’s true that we saw some repeat accidents for the same people and maybe a different approach from the Federation can be the solution. But it’s not easy; all the incidents are different. F1 with the speed, with the time, the distance, it’s difficult to combine these three elements and sometimes something that looks spectacular on TV is not so easy to avoid in reality.

“(At the start) The first thing was Maldonado; it was still the red lights and he was already P3 or P2, ” said Alonso before turning attention to Grosjean.

“I’m not angry,” he said of being knocked out of the race. “No-one does this on purpose. I think they were fighting and they are two aggressive drivers on the starts, Lewis and Romain and this time it was us in the wrong place at the wrong time.

“It’s true also that in 12 races he (Grosjean) had seven crashes at the start…

“The drivers need to have common sense, to have respect for the others.”

Ironically the driver steward in Spa was Eliseo Salazar, the Chilean driver who caused an accident with Nelson Piquet in Germany in 1982, which led to Piquet attacking him in the famous “punch-up” incident.

A further irony is that the last time Grosjean raced an F1 car at Spa in 2009, he crashed into Jenson Button on the opening lap, eliminating the then championship leader!

Lotus can replace Grosjean for Monza and Eric Boullier has indicated that the likely replacement will be Jerome D’Ambrosio, the reserve driver. A decision will need to be made quickly to allow time for the replacement to get up to speed in the simulator.

Grosjean was apologetic about triggering the accident at the start, when he swerved across the road towards Lewis Hamilton, giving him nowhere to go and causing a four car pile up which also eliminated Sergio Perez and Alonso.

“I did a mistake and I misjudged the gap with Lewis,” said Grosjean. “I was sure I was in front of him. So a small mistake made a big incident. I didn’t change my line, I went from left to right. I was not really wanting to put anyone in the wall – I’m not here to stop the race in the first corner. I’m very, very sorry and I’m glad that nobody is hurt.

“But I have to say it is a very, very hard decision to hear.”

Eric Boullier, the Lotus team boss defended his driver, once again,
“He was not responsible for seven incidents. He was involved in seven incidents, which is different,” said Boullier. “But obviously being in the wrong place is not good; and that means we have to keep working and talking, which is more talking I think, about the reason why he is in the wrong place. He will learn even more if he does not put too much pressure on himself at the start of the race.”

Meanwhile Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali believes that the FIA should be tougher on drivers in the junior categories so they have more respect when they reach F1. Many in F1 noticed the number of accidents this weekend in GP2 and GP3; there is a kind of desperation about many of these young drivers who know that their chances of progressing into F1 in this economic climate are virtually non-existent and who are so desperate to catch the eye and impress and to get results.

“I can only say that the judgement falls to the FIA,” said Domenicali. “What is certain is that, it would be better if, starting with the junior formulae, rules relating to on-track behaviour were enforced in an inflexible manner, so as to have drivers as well prepared as possible when they reach this, the highest level of motor sport.”

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I have to agree with the comments highlighting that Grojean’s (‘harsh’) penalty appears to have been applied because ‘genuine championship contenders’ were affected by his misendeavours.

I hope that this is not the case. But it’s fine if it is the catalyst for sterner action, by the stewards, in the future.

But it’s not just about who is affected, it should about what could have happened; too many times, in recent years, have we seen dangerous behaviour go unpunished, because no (or little) harm actually occurred: i.e. moving too late to defend a position is a reoccurring situation that seemingly goes unnoticed by those who should take notice!

I really don’t want to see lots of intervention; above all else, a racing driver should feel free to ‘have a go’. But, in a kind of contradition to football becoming about ‘playing for the foul’, Stefano Domenicali’s comments remind me that motor racing seems to becoming about ‘getting away with the foul’! It’s pointless to debate why and who is responsible for this, we just need to remember that the risks are much greater in motor sport.

What is it going to take to make those in control be seen to take driving standards seriously, throughout the sport?


I still think this penalty is a bit too harsh. Grosjean clearly needs to develop his spatial awareness, but none of his accidents were caused by him being too aggressive or ambitious. The DNFs alone are enough motivation for him to improve on that front.

Maldonado is a different kettle of fish, as some of his tangles since entering on F1 have been bordering on thuggish. The FIA should’ve given him a suspended one-race ban already, as with Bottas going well on Friday the threat of missing a race would surely see him cool his jets.

As things stand, Grosjean will be working hard on how to position his car during the race start (as he doubtless would have without the penalty) and Maldonado will probably get into another scrape before the FIA dish out the same penalty to him. The governing body isn’t making very effective use of the tools available, in my opinion.


Perhaps they should consider implementing some kind of merit-system, so that not all the new drivers in F1 are “rich kids” who did “only OK” in junior classes.

Perhaps some kind of draft, where teams can pick a driver for themselves…?

I don’t know…F1 is getting to be too commercial, too safe and too strict about mechanical rules. Where’s the creativity and exciting racing? Now it’s push-the-button-to-overtake-once-per-lap “racing”.


If grosjean deserves a one race ban, then Maldonado deserved a two or three race ban, especially after the incidents at spa last year with Hamilton and Perez in monaco this year, but then again maybe that would affect Williams sponsorship


I don’t get where this idea of Grosjean and Maldonado being similarly aggressive came from…

The difference between Maldonado and Grosjean is Maldonado is pure arrogant and deliberately crashes, or defends too aggressively. Later, when interviewed, he blames car, tyres, and other drivers.

Whereas Grosjean is just too keen at the start and gets into trouble that way. But Grosjean takes responsibility, apologises, takes the penalty, and will probably learn from his mistakes.

Also, to say that Grosjean has been in seven start accidents is true, but your forgetting that Australia was Maldonado’s arrogance, Grosjean left loads of space.

But, yes, the penalty was fair. He did the same in Monaco, and now he pays the price…


They both have an under developed sense of risk


It’s clear grid penalties for causing collisions isn’t having the desired affect, as it doesn’t seem to deter drivers from making the same mistakes again in future. If anything, Grosjean and Maldonado’s on track behaviour has been getting worse rather than better over the course of the season. Therefore I think it was time for a more severe stance to be taken by the stewards. A race ban will hit Grosjean hard, and hopefully help him to clean his act up. I only hope this also serves as a warning to Maldonado, who can consider himself very fortunate not to have received a ban this season after some outrageous incidents, the collision with Perez at Monaco alone should have seen him banned for several races.

The last driver to be banned for causing a collision was Mika Hakkinen back in 1994, in remarkably similar circumstances to that of Grosjean today. Hakkinen too was regarded as a fast but wild driver, and after a number of first corner incidents, he was eventually given a 1 race ban for triggering a multi car pileup at the start of the German Grand Prix. After returning from the ban, Hakkinen notably cleaned his act up, the first lap shunts became a thing of the past, and obviously 2 world titles followed. Lets hope the ban proves to be the making of Grosjean like it was with Hakkinen.


This may sound like blasphemy.

I understand that the massed starts have always been an integral part of Grand Prix and Formula 1 racing, but seeing innocent contenders having their opportunities for finishing positions that reflect their and their car’s potential wiped out at the start of race after race seems plain stupid to me.

Is it not time that the FIA considered rolling starts behind a pace car?

It would not only be more fair to the teams which have spent tens of millions to achieve their places on the grid, but would also give the possibility of seeing all the drivers racing to the end, instead of the just thefortunate few that have escaped the first corner carnage.

Pierre of Spa Francochamp

James, I’m surprised you haven’t mentioned the many stories that locals in the village bars tell about demons ….

apparently every 2 or 3 years they strike to wreck the race.

Sunday, these demons and voices got hold of Maldo and said, “Don’t be a fool, watching lights. Go! Go now!”

Then they went and whispered to Grosjean, ” Hamilton is not beside you here, on the right. There is empty space. Move in there quick or you’ll be the last to reach la source..”

Those boys need exorcism, not punishment


Sounds feasible !

DanWilliams from Aust

haha 🙂


Can a driver have too much support from their mentors? Eric Boullier is RG’s manager as well as his Team Principle. I seem to recall a comment from EB at the start of the season that RG should not worry about crashing too much, just drive fast. I would hate for a return to the morbid days of the 60s, 70s and 80s but maybe Stirling Moss has a point when he bemoans the “safety” of modern F1 which leads to astonishingly stupid behaviour by young drivers.


Now I have read the feedback, you can now officially update your headline to read “Penalty was coming, say driver AND fans …” with the sidebar “Williams and Renault can count themselves lucky”.

Kudos to Alonso for the incredibly lucid response to the incident. He must have been flush with adrenalin when he was asked for his point of view. Amazingly poised and clear.


It was around 4-15pm in Spa, so a couple of hours after he was hit by “what felt like a train”


How difficult, really, would it be to implement a disciplinary points system in F1? For example, punishments continue to be melted out as they currently are, but, in addition to in-race or next-race penalties. The following points are attributed….

3 for jump-starting

5 for causing a collision

7 for causing a collision that leads to the direct retirement of the driver that was crashed into.

5 for changing line more than once when defending position.

5 for speeding in the pit lane or unsafe release

You reach ten points, you have a 5-place grid penalty at the next race. When you reach 15-20 points, it’s a ten-place penalty. 25 points and it’s ten-place penalty or black flag for the next race. 30 points and it’s a black flag for the driver and no option for the team to replace that driver. Next step and it’s deduction of WDC and WCC points.

The above are all just examples, but, at least there are some longer-term consequences for continued abuse of the rules. Let’s face it, Maldonado could and should have been excluded from a race based on what he did to Perez at Monaco and Hamilton at Valencia. But, on each ocassion, they’re treated as isolated incidents so no real consequence and no real deterrent to change ways.

Really, how difficult would it to be implement something like this? Has it been proposed before?


I agree with that. You should e-mail the FIA and tell them of your fool-proof idea 😉


I can’t wait to see what Jerome is capable of in a competitive car.



He outperformed Glock on several occasions in his rookie year.


I thought the same thought as others – that Maldonado’s jump start was the catalyst for the first turn mayhem. Alonso made mention of him being in P3 or P2 when the lights were still red, so it seems to me that the other drivers were thrown off by his ridiculous jump start as well. How that yahoo will be driving in Monza while Grosjean watches from the sidelines is beyond me.

I don’t care how much money Maldonado is bringing in with sponsors, I think he is doing more harm than good for Williams, and F1. Think of how much money could be going to development rather than building 2-3 cars for Pastor every weekend, and how fast the Williams looks, if only it was in the hands of a driver that could make it to the end of a race. Morale must be low in the Williams garage – I can’t imagine putting the hours and effort in that the mechanics do, just to watch Mr. Deep Pockets take it out and crash your work over and over again.


Yeah a bit like that sadly..I’m still dreaming about what Kimi could have done in that team ! You would think Romain would have learned from Kimis starts by now !


I completely agree.


I don’t agree with any of the race stewards punishments during the F1 Belgian Grand Prix weekend or how subjective their decisions were. I agree with Niki Lauda that GrosJean’s punishment should have been a two-race ban and the $50,000 fine come out of his pockets.

You me, it seems as the race stewards only punished Grosjean because the crash “eliminated the leading championship contenders”. Is that to say if Grosjean would have crashed in a HRT car than he wouldn’t have gotten a one-race ban?

Grosjean’s one-race ban should not have been based on which drivers he eliminated. It should have been based on his history of seven first lap accidents in 12 races , the potential danger of the crash, and how many cars got eliminated. If you look at a slow-motion replay of the crash from Alonso’s in-car camera, Grosjean lef

-rear tire came within only a few inches of Alonso’s head.

This was Sauber’s best qualifying positions of the season. Both cars were eliminated because of Grosjean’s mistake. These points are worth million of dollars for the teams. Last I looked, Sauber is not Ferrari, McLaren, or Red Bull. They need every penny they can g

The race stewards decision to only punish Mr Crash himself, Maldonado, only three places, instead of the usually 5, because “Hulkenburg was still able to make it into Q2” was another subjective decision by them. If a driver blocks another driver in qualifying, it should be an automatic 5 grid place penalty. It shouldn’t matter if the driver made it into the next round of qualifying or not.

Maybe if Maldonado was in his proper grid penalty position, none of this would have happened. Grosjean did mentioned that Maldonado jumping the start was a distraction.

Maldonado should have also gotten a one-race ban. How many accidents have he been involved in this season? He received three penalties this weekend and will start the Monza Grand Prix race next weekend with a 10 grid penalty already.


As a Lotus/Grosjean fan I completely agree with the ban, and I hope that it calms him down. Its so frustrating as hes a talented and fast racing driver but he seems way too aggressive at the beginning of the race, its almost like he drives like hes playing a video game and doesn’t think of the bigger picture of the race.


I have no data to back my observation up but it seems that there are a lot more crashes and multi-car crashes at the starts of GPs compared to (moving) restarts. With jumped starts, stalled cars, spinning tires, missed gear changes and other variables that almost inevitably jumble the cars and cause chaos from stationary starts, perhaps it is also time to look at making the starts be moving in the interest of safety?


If the did that around (my guess) 50% of fans won’t watch, because it eliminates all fun and excitement at the start. Bernie wouldn’t have that.


50% of fans watch F1 for just the start? I find that estimate to be excessive, if not missing the point. Of course some fans watch F1 because of the potential for mayhem and accidents, but that has never changed. Don’t forget how many drivers were killed in the 50’s,60’s and 70’s because it was feared that taking more safety measures would take the excitement out of the sport.


Ok, I massively exaggerated it. But half the excitement is in the start 🙂


Maldonado makes Yuji Ide look competent…that said Ide got stripped of his licence for barrel rolling Albers rather than lots of crashes…

Also, how slow does Karthikeyan need to be before he’s picked up on? Nothing against the guy, but he was 1.9 seconds off his team mate in qualifying. Either he’s going snails pace, or De La Rosa is screaming that car.


One of the areas that has to be looked at is the FIA test ban. Drivers today get almost no time in an F1 car other than during a race week-end. Most of their testing time comes from driving a simulator, which may be similar isn’t the real thing and probably gives them a false sense of their skill in an F1 car.


Obviously many of the accidents we have seen this year appear to have inexperience as a major factor. Let me throw this thought into the mix. Not too long ago there was mid season testing and even extra teams with two extra drivers testing cars. All the extra testing would have given drivers many miles in the cars and more experience before getting in an actual race. Gone are the days of racing on Sunday and being back in the car testing on Tuesday. From what I understand many drivers would have been doing race distances several times a week.

Maybe despite the financial cost, it’s time to bring it back, before there is an even greater cost.


Has this been an issue in the past? Could some trivia buff clear that up for me?

If it has not been an issue then we need to ask why?

– do current F1 cars accelerate too fast for rookie drivers to adjust?

– does the feeder series properly teach the nessary skills?

– is it coincidence that both drivers in question bring large advertising revenue?

– are the drivers under too much pressure to perform?

– are the current cars too fast for standing starts?

– are the spaces between grid spots not large enough?

Any ideas?


Mr Allen,I thank you for the opportunity to

express one thoughts.

Grosjean should have been suspended from F1 grid after the third crash,the bigest culprit

is Maldonado unfortunately he has not made the grade and one doubt if he ever will.

However I truly believe the mamagement of the

Williams/Lotus teams onus rest squarely at their feet,failure to brief their drivers

duty of care thus fine of € million for first

offence € 10, million for second and for third

suspenssion for the rest of season,should this

be applied in some form there would be no need for inclosed cocpit for drivers but the professionasm and good racing.



How come the cars were not directed through the pit lane during the Safety Car period?? With all of the debris they had to go through and the high speed nature of the circuit, surely that was why that particular rule was implemented.


Can anyone tell me where I can find a copy of the official stewards report relating to the Grojean ruling after the Belgian Grand Prix?

Most certainly Grosjean was to blame for the incident; but I think his post race apology and comments on the incident showed great maturity.

I have read elsewhere however that the stewards report mentioned that he “eliminated leading championship contenders from the race”. If true this shows a level of bias that is completely unnecessary and sets a very dangerous precedent. The message as I read it is: don’t mess with drivers in the championship running (even my mistake) or you’ll get a race ban. I find this very disturbing, but I am happy to be corrected.


Quid pro quo. If you as a driver stay out of someone else’s championship fight when you are not currently contesting, then that same competitor will not ruin your championship fight if you later find yourself in one. The moral of the story?… think about the future.


Post race apology will not give points back to Alonso, Hamilton or Perez. Two of them fighting for the championship.


No, but it’s also about attitude – something Maldonado lacks (a good one that is).


See this tweet from @F1Kate

It has photo of report. Or the FIA website has ‘news’ versions of the decisions


10 Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team
14:08 Race
Caused a Collision.
Breach of Article 16.1(d) and Article 20.4 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations and Article 2(e) of
Chapter IV Appendix L of the FIA International Sporting Code.
A one Event suspension and a fine of € 50,000 in accordance with Article 18.1 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.
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.


Thank you James. That confirms what I have previously read.

Whilst a penalty was definitely called for (and we can argue whether or not the one dished out was too harsh or not until the cows come home), I am not at all impressed by the wording. Reading between the lines, if it was a Marussia, an HRT and a Caterham that were eliminated from the race at Turn 1 then it wouldn’t be as serious; which of course is complete rubbish.

They should have left that sentence regarding “leading championship contenders” out altogether. Does anyone else smell a hint of bias?


I just think for the next two races they should let Maldonado and Grosjean start from the pit lane. Have Maldonado start in front of Grosjean so he can feel a little jittery for a change. They could take each other out and learn while the race continues safely. By the way James, the sound on my TV wasn’t working so for once I thought I could listen to you on the radio… I was genuinely excited but alas we are not allowed to listen to 5 in Singapore.


For GBP 5/month you can get yourself a UK IP-address and listen to 5 wherever you are




I am all for the race ban, as i think it will send a much needed warning message to all drivers about saftey.

However, I am a bit uncomfortable with the wording of the FIA’s reasons for the ban ‘taking out leading championship contender’ sounds very subjective and leaves me asking same punishment would have been metted out if Grojsean had hit Glock and Pic instead.

Punishments should’t be subjective and this one sounds like it was dished out because Alondo was affected.


i think lot of people here are forgetting the number of crashes Hamilton has caused. i forgot which race it was, but hamilton cut a chicane and overtook raikkonen and then ultimately crashed into raikkonen . i dont remember hamilton being penalised for taking out a top contender. nor did raikkonen point at hamilton and make any actions.WE all know the Hamilton crash department in FIA. so its presumptuous to make such statements that grojean ban was fair. Rookie drivers have caused lots of crashes and hamilton must be reminded of some of his own. correct if im wrong james…..

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