Grosjean handed one-race ban
Frenchman banned for Monza after 'extremely serious breach' of F1's driving standards
Last Updated: 03/09/12 8:42am
Lotus driver Romain Grosjean has been banned for one race by Belgian GP stewards for triggering the massive first-corner collision in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix.
The Frenchman will sit out next weekend's Italian GP at Monza after the stewards at Spa ruled that he had been at fault for causing the collision which took out four drivers. Grosjean has also been handed a €50,000 fine.
"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," a contrite Grosjean reflected in the wake of the ruling.
"I honestly thought I was ahead of Hamilton 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."
The team have confirmed they will not contest the decision and will name Grosjean's replacement for Monza in due course.
Announcing their verdict more than two hours after the end of the race which was won by McLaren's Jenson Button, the stewards issued a strongly-worded rebuke of the Lotus driver.
"The stewards regard this incident as an extremely serious breach of the regulations which had the potential to cause injury to others," their statement read. "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."
Replays of the incident showed that the Lotus driver, who had started from eighth on the grid, squeezed Lewis Hamilton onto the grass as the McLaren driver attempted to go down the outside of him, causing Hamilton to lose control of his car and plough into the back of the Lotus.
Their tangle sent Grosjean onto a collision course with the Sauber of Sergio Perez and across the nose of Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, putting all three drivers out on the spot along with Hamilton and damaging the other Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi.
Analysing the incident both during and after the end of the race, Sky Sports F1's pundits agreed that Grosjean deserved to be blamed.
"I'm afraid I have to say that's Grosjean's fault," concluded Martin Brundle. "Grosjean doesn't seem spatially aware of his car. That could have been a very, very nasty accident in terms of injury."
"Lewis couldn't go any further right," concurred Damon Hill. "And if you start moving when a guy is coming over that aggressively then he will keep coming so even that is no guarantee that you'll avoid an accident anyway."
Grosjean's ban for Monza makes it likely that Lotus will draft in their test and reserve driver Jerome d'Ambrosio to compete in the reigning GP2 Champion's place next weekend.