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Calls for Grosjean to face fresh ban after latest start incident
Posted By: James Allen  |  07 Oct 2012   |  10:02 am GMT  |  338 comments

Mark Webber has led calls for Romain Grosjean to face another driving ban after he was taken out by the Frenchman at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix, the seventh such incident Grosjean has been involved in this season.

Grosjean received a one-race ban after causing a pile-up in Spa, but today’s incident shows that either he has not learned or he has some in-built problem when it comes to the instinctive phase of the racing driver’s art – the chaotic race starts.

Because race starts are an instinctive moment, many ex-drivers in the paddock argue that this is not something that can be trained into him.

Webber called Grosjean a “first lap nutcase” and added, “The rest of us are trying to fight for decent results. Maybe he needs another holiday. He needs to have a look at himself, how many times can you make the same error. It’s embarrassing at this level.”

Grosjean said, “After the ban I am very careful at the start. I kept my line trying to avoid any contact with Perez, who was on my left. I was focussing on that and I didn’t see the delta speed with Mark.

“Trying to avoid any contact was my main objective, but it didn’t work, it’s a stupid crash.”

FIA stewards at Suzuka handed him a ten second stop-go penalty during the race, but the GPDA will clearly want to look at this and discuss it together with FIA Race Director Charlie Whiting.

What do you think should happen?

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Formula 1 is a source of entertainment and it has to be said the Grosjean is very entertaining, and very quick. The way Ayrton Senna’s deliberate crash into Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1990 or the way Schumacher’s 1994 crashing into Damon Hill are considered acts of ruthless competitiveness and are even heralded- this is because they were highly entertaining incidents. James had a great article about how the lack of testing is affecting the driver talent coming into F1 and I don’t think that’s become any less relevant since he’s written it (great article by the way, James).

Grosjean may be causing several incidents but I don’t think that every single one of them can be squarely blamed on him. No-one gave David Coulthard a one race ban after he nearly took of Alex Wurz’s head in Melbourne a few years ago, instead higher side head protectors were brought in for the next year, and no-one called for Hamilton to be ejected from the sport for causing several accidents with all and sundry last season-although he did receive heavy criticism. But petulant characters like Grosjean cause high levels of entertainment in the sport because, to new fans, the crashes are often the most interesting part.

Now I know that sounds hugely depressing to an experienced F1 fan and the fact that it puts peoples lives at risk does warrant extremely close analysis of someone in Grosjean’s position, however, he has shown his abilities as a bonafide racer and when he’s not crashing out on the first lap he can actually be highly entertaining to watch-his style is very aggressive and that’s very likeable. So with these facts in mind I would say that he is an asset to F1, not a liability.

Provided the stewards keep a close eye on him, I think he has a bright future in F1 and will provide a bright future for F1. He just needs more hours in the car, it’s as simple as that. Perhaps this year will be the catalyst for him to become a great racer- it worked for Jody Scheckter. I hope that Grosjean stays in the sport as I’ve attracted a number of my friends to become F1 fans this season because of him and his personality fits well within the traditional Formula 1 racer mould.


I guess the biggest sign of Grosjean’s incompetence is that he doesn’t looks too comfortable talking about his crashes. Most other drivers look frustrated, embarrassed, or relieved to be alive. Not Grosjean.

I’d have disqualified him mid race if I was in Mr Whiting’s seat.


i would call it 50/50..webber is also at fault… looking at the video footage from different angles, it seems more and more that romain could have taken the corner without any problem had mark not been there…so it is also webbers fault to be too slow and brake much earlier than other drivers… i dont know if stewards did really check and compare the telemetry of webber to other drivers.. but mark seems to be way too slow…but grosjean’s past incidents made him an easy choice so they put all the blame on him… so if one is to be banned, it should be both mark and romain..otherwise we can call it a stupid first lap incident made by both drivers…


I think you might want to look at that again!


perez and grosjean is next to each other just before the incident…so if romain is too fast, perez was driving more dangerously then… because it would be more diffucult to take the corner from outside… romain is trying to take the turn inside so he could normally take the corner faster than perez… i am neither french nor romain fan but it is just unfair to put the blame on romain because of his past incidents… i have watched it over and over again and it still doesnt seem to be just grosjeans’s fault…


Think back…they dumped Heidfeld for Senna and now this guy. Solid driver with lots of experience and who put points on the board…..good job Boullier


Wow f1, what can you say, [mod]


Nothing here if you phrase it as you did -Mod


F1 unfortunately has little time or patience for Roman to learn his race / Starting craft. Although he has shown glimpses of skill on the track, I fear that he will not get the chance to stay in formula 1 to ‘come good’. I think that if lotus want to keep him on track ie. no ban, then they may have to start from dead last or as suggested – the pit lane. Will be surprised if he keeps his drive given the surplus of excellent drivers available for next season.


Was it not a Renault (kimi) that crashed during qualifying after the Red Bull (Renault) pair set their qualifying times that brought out the waved Yellow Flags preventing the others to qualify properly and was is not a Renault (Vettel) who hindered Alonso during qualifying And subsequently Vettel was reprimanded for the incident whereas Jean Eric Vergne (williams) was given a 4 place grid penalty for hindering a Toro Rosso (team No.2 of Red Bull). Was it not a Renault (kimi) that touched Alonso’s Left rear wheel in the start of the race, slit the tyre and ended Alonso’s race and was it not a Renault (Grosjean) again that took off Mark Webber from the equation at the start of the Japan GP. Vettel had to capitalise and there is no question about it.


He should start from the pitlane for the remainder of the season..

Grosjean Romasi

I don’t think that ban would change much. Cars and tracks should be more frightening to drive, that would probably calm things down.

The most disappointing is to see that nobody is even considering penalizing Alonso.

What is so different about Grosjean forcing Hamilton at Spa or Alonso/Raikkonen situtation? Only the consequence. Yes, his move hurt him more than Raikkonen, but it should not matter. Swerving is swerving.


Couldnt agree more on Alonso… clearly put Kimi in the grass.


I agree regarding Alonso – there was no need for him to move so far to the left of the track (forcing Kimi onto the grass). It seems to have been passed over due to A) the fact that Alonso didn’t get more than another 100m down the track and B) the uproar over Grosjean which of course is deserved in his case.

Even on the BBC coverage it was not even brought to light that actually, Fernando was the architect of his own demise by moving over too far. It is as if some drivers can do no wrong sometimes and they need to be a bit more even-handed in the coverage. It was like, “poor Fernando, title lead slipped away”. Sorry but I don’t buy it and the likes of the BBC need to stop insulting the viewer by passing over such things when it is clearly evident on replays.

Alonso very seldom makes mistakes but there was one yesterday and it was ignored by the BBC. He put his car in a position it did not need to be and as a result, paid the price, one could argue at least 10 points if he had managed a 5th, given how Massa’s race (pace) panned out in his Ferrari.


Something else to consider is that its not just this year that Grosjean has been making these sort of mistakes.

I recall watching him in the Euro F3 series where he was making the same kind of errors & there was a couple while he was in GP2 as well.

Also when he was in F1 with Renault in 2009 he had a couple silly 1st lap incidents including the one at Spa where he caused a multi-car pile-up.

If he hasn’t learnt by now, He’s never going to.


Grosjean doesn’t appear to have the mental capacity to process more than one thing at a time. His comments about watching the car on his outside and then plowing into Webber, pretty much straight in front of him, suggests he’s not cut out for multiple scenario planning.

I’ve seen this in kart racing where some drivers would struggle to process a incident in front of them, and then batter into to someone who they could easily have avoided.


It’s interesting that we are all talking about Massa and Kamui being under pressure to keep their seats, but noone is saying that Grosjean is under threat. F1 is a tough business and you either perform or your out. We have seen other drivers with a similar experience level to RG manage to smooth out the rough edges, he has to do the same or that will be it for him. Romain is quick but an F1 driver needs to have the full package if he is to succeed. It seems he has a problem keeping the car under control with full tanks and also lacks the ability to judge where other cars are around him. I don’t know if these things can be learned or not, but if they can he needs to get on with it.

I thought that Grosjean seemed a bit cocky after the ban, as if he still didn’t believe it was his fault, but in the post race interview yesterday he looked like a frightened schoolboy about to burst into tears! I hope he really does learn his lesson this time.


Grosjean should simply be banned for ever from F1: there is no room for incompetent drivers damaging professional drivers results and ultimately their carreer. Get him out and give a seat to one of the many deserving young drivers waitnig in the wings.


I find it hard to come down on one side of the fence or the other with Grosjean with regards to a ban. There is clearly something up with him in terms of the start of the race, but he does seem to be a talented driver. What will giving him a ban really teach him. I doubt that he is deliberately driving dangerously! And it isn’t like he is the first driver to bave gotten this reputation – Jody Scheckter did in his early career and he went on to be a world champ. However, how do you get the message to sink in that he HAS to deal with these starts. If I were Lotus, I would be seriously looking at car management training, simulated starts and even people like sports psychologists. Lets face it, if he could to sort out the starts and first lap, he would be a serious talent!


Romain ‘Mr Magoo’ Grosjean 🙂 Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha!


Lets be honest, Webber had another crappy start, something that’s plagued him for years now. He’s been struggling to keep the pace the last few races and I think those are the primary reasons for the lashing out. Amidst all of this, Vettel is on another role and the rest of the team are in toe.

Grosjean does appear to be more of a nuisance to the sport than anything else, but I just can’t see him getting another ban. No one’s life was in jeopardy and it looked like an honest mistake. He’s immature and his driving tactics certainly aren’t making him any friends in the sport, but we’ve seen this type of contact from so many of the other drivers on the grid before.

Webber’s always been one of the more sensible drivers in the sport. I don’t understand the media hoopla honestly.


He missed pole by .2 of a second! Hardly struggling.


instead of a ban for next race, he has to start in pit lane?


Lack of Karting experience. As Schumacher said, karting is most important lesson/base in drivers career and is one thing that should not be rushed. That is where you get all the racecraft from.

If you ever participated in semi/pro or pro kart race, you know how tough those starts are. Talking about space awearness.


So he needs practice. Banning him for another race is not addressing the issue. Just like when a soccer player misses a penalty in the World Cup final- you don’t tell him he will never ever score another penalty kick. Instead, you make him practice more than the others…

And I can’t help but think what MSC would do in a car like the lotus, given the fact he and Kimi drive in the same way…


same way??? both like oversteer, but unlike schumacher, kimi can handle much more oversteer due to his smooth driving style and unique steering system setup! totally different style..and kimi has more skills than schumacher in wheel to wheel racing!!


It’s not a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction and it’s wrong to ‘give him a break’. His personality is also irrelevant.

This is sport and he is currently incapable of racing within the rules or limits.

Safety is priority number one and he is not adhering to that – he must therefore be banned.


I think Grosjean, is always driving at max pace, and when he needs to overtake he will just try to go around the car. But that is problem when driving in a pack, because you have to effectievly reduce your speed to the car in front of you


Ironically, if he were -driving- Webber’s car, this discussion wouldn’t be happening – a better qualy and he’s just got Seb to worry about.

Feel a bit for the lower end top 10 guys – there must be huge pressure to get a good start, knowing it can make 5+ places difference by the end of a race, especially round a circuit where cars spread out a bit during the race.

I think 10sec stop/go penalties are the right way – it effectively cruels his race. Ban him when it’s dangerous (Spa), but you have to let him figure it out in-situ, and hope he doesn’t kill someone.


I’m disappointed in you James, I thought your site was better than this, but with your story on Perez the other day and now this you seem to be going down the sensationalism tabloid route.

Grosjean has been involved in 7 or 8 incidents from the start. Watch the video from the BBC and look through them, 2 with Schumacher (The last man to be similarly banned, causes more crashes with others this year tried to kill Barichello a year ago(hows that for sensationalism), 1 with Maldanado not on the first lap, (perhaps a worse reputation than Grosjean this year), 1 with Webber who used to do things like this all the time years ago but got away with it because it was down the pack, 1 with Hamilton who spent last year constantly crashing into Massa.

It’s racing sh*t happens.


Well, let’s have a look at that.

There was another incident following a one race ban, that’s a major talking point in the paddock and whatever the decision it will set an important precedent.

We have almost 250 comments and a grown up poll about it, This site is about debating things that happen in F1 and fans getting their voices heard.

So what’s tabloid about that?

As for Perez, I flagged something up, we had a great debate, many people disagreed with me and I learned a lot. What’s tabloid about that?


Presumably because the stewards have dealt with the matter under race conditions, any additional penalty like a ban will be precident setting


Thanks for replying, I think the fact that the main thrust of the comments to the Perez story were along the lines of what else was he supposed to do show that the majority of the readers didn’t agree with you [mod]. That’s where the tabloid angle comes from, getting stories down to the lowest common denominator.

WRT to this story you haven’t presented any mitigation about Grosjeans driving, many people felt the first penalty was harsh in the extreme. Do you personally feel he was at fault for all those incidents in he BBC video? A lot of them were 50-50 at worse the Hockenheim one he just drives off the road on his own!

Writing an article citing unnamed ex-drivers saying he can’t change, Webbers heat of the moment quotes and positing that the GDPA will want to look at it with out collaborating quotes is the sort of thing you find in the red tops, all that’s missing is starting the story with the line I can exclusively reveal…

I was surprised by the results of the poll, it would be interesting to see the demographic of the readers responding, having watched F1 for 25 years there’s been much worse driving unpunished over that time.


Also James, in addition to the 7 incidents this year, didn’t he cause similar accidents in 2009. If he didn’t learn in the 2 years he was away and even after his ban, will he ever learn.


I’m not sure what mitigation there is in this case. GRO himself admits it that he misjudged the closing speed and it was a stupid accident. Not many people in F1 disagreed with the ban for Spa and he’s gone and done it again.

We’ve not seen a serial issue like this for quite some time in F1.


Much as I can understand Webber being properly annoyed about this latest incident of Grosjean’s, I can’t say I feel it warrants a ban on its own merits. That would be slightly overkill, and given the poor guy looked close to tears when being interviewed there’s also a chance he wouldn’t turn up again at all. What it does illustrate, however, is the need (in my view) for the FIA to introduce a points system akin to those the rest of us have on our driving licences and add penalty points in the same way for incidents such as these. That may encourage drivers to be a bit more circumspect, more so than a penalty which only applies to one race (and in this case one he didn’t finish anyway).


I think this will all be sorted out next year.

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