No Italian GP for 'Fly too high' Grosjean

Eric Gilbert

After his crazy stunt at the start of today's Belgian GP, Lotus-Renault driver Romain Grosjean has been given a one-race ban at the Italian GP.

He was deemed responsible for the crash at the start of today’s Formula One race on Circuit Spa-Francorchamps by the race stewards. The Frenchman was also given a 50,000 Euros penalty. "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,”said Grosjean.

This was his 7th first-lap crash in 12 races in 2012. Grosjean clipped the tire of Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren, and the two went on to take out Sergio Perez and World Championship points leader Fernando Alonso.

I didn't deliberately try to squeeze him or anything like that.

Romain Grosjean on his initial contact with Lewis Hamilton

Grosjean admitted that he did hit the McLaren-Mercedes: “(I) was heading into the first corner when the rear of my car made contact with the front of Lewis’ car. 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.”

What happened afterward causes a few anxious moments when Grosjean’s flight took him over the Alonso’s Ferrari; very close to the cockpit. Alonso said afterwards, “I’m fine, except my left shoulder hurts a bit: I went to the medical centre immediately after the accident but everything is alright, the pain only comes from the whiplash. I had no idea what happened”

From a statement from governing body the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA): "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 judgment. Neither the team nor the driver made any submission in mitigation of penalty."

Jenson Button, McLaren leads at the start as a crash ensues involving Lewis Hamilton, McLaren and Romain Grosjean, Lotus F1
Jenson Button, McLaren leads at the start as a crash ensues involving Lewis Hamilton, McLaren and Romain Grosjean, Lotus F1

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Lotus confirmed it would not appeal the judgment from the FIA. Team Principal Eric Boullier, who commented, "It's been a tough day for the team but we fully respect the Stewards' decision. Romain won't be driving at Monza but he still has our full support. We'll announce the name of his replacement a bit later in the week.” Lotus reserve driver Jerome D'Ambrosio will most likely sub for Grosjean at Monza.

Grosjean added, “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."

It has been 18 years since the last time a race ban was 'awarded' when none other than Michael Schumacher missed the Italian and Portuguese GPs for ignoring the black flag waving at him at the British GP. At least, Romain Grosjean is in good company...
To see all the photos from the crash and the race, click here.

Top names from the world of Formula 1 react to the first corner accident at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix that saw Romain Grosjean handed a one-race ban .

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Michael Schumacher , Fernando Alonso , Lewis Hamilton , Eric Gilbert , Sergio Perez , Romain Grosjean
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes , McLaren , Lotus F1 Team
Article type Breaking news
Tags ban, belgian gp, crash, featured, grosjean, italian gp, lotus, penalty