Grosjean Needs To Learn Driver Etiquette

Now that some much-needed time has passed and I have cooled down some, I will expound in more detail about the first lap incident, make that first TURN incident, at Spa Francorchamps during the Belgian Grand Prix. “Disappointment” does not begin to describe what I felt shortly after Roman Grosjean took out Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and our championship points leader Fernando Alonso, who I just happen to have quite an affinity for. Later on Kamui Kobayashi would also retire due to complications from the same first turn melee. All I can say is, for myself and my buddies watching with me, we were all in disbelief. I still am slightly in denial about it. Well I guess “that’s racing” as the old adage goes. However, I feel it needs to be said that this accident was totally avoidable. Rarely can a driver win the race on the first lap (unless you are starting in the first three positions) so there’s no need to be so aggressive on the first turn. Mr. Grosjean, you started from eighth position! Eighth! Where did you think you were going to get to with that move? Plenty of time to take P7 or even P6 a few laps in!

NOT QUITE SURE WHAT RACING LINE GROSJEAN IS USING HERE, BUT I AM PRETTY SURE IT IS NOT THE ONE THAT MOST DRIVERS WOULD RECOMMEND.

Of course there is always a good chance that two or more cars will have some kind of coming together at the start of each race, that is part of the thrill of Formula One when the lights go out. But what Grosjean in his Lotus did was just not cool anyway you cut it. No bueno, buddy. I realize that 24 cars all racing for the best spot to go into the first turn is not ideal and the further back you are the greater chance of an incident. But there’s no reason to add aggressive weaving and overly ambitious driving to that cocktail, especially from eighth place. I don’t even need to get into the safety issues associated with a crash like this because it is so obvious how dangerous a multi-car crash is with open cockpits and heads exposed, enough said there.

And what about the fans that spent hundreds of dollars to attend a Grand Prix and two of the most popular drivers are out within 15 seconds? What about the teams that work so hard and pour so much effort into a Grand Prix weekend, and then to have it all wiped away in the first hundred meters? For no reason? It’s just not acceptable. Period.

It’s also wrong that a driver who is nowhere in the overall standings (that is you Mr. Crash ‘Em Up) and therefore not a challenger for the driver’s crown, takes out not just two of the protagonists (one being Hamilton) in this years campaign but the points leader (that being Alonso). But I do concede that racing is just that way, un-lucky sometimes, and I will also admit that Fernando and Ferrari have enjoyed some good luck this year as well. Good and bad seem to even out, but that will not make me forgive Grosjean any sooner.

Grosjean has been involved in seven first lap incidents in twelve races, at least that is the number that is being thrown around on the Internet. I am sure those have not all have been his fault. Maybe none. But the point is, why does it keep happening to him? Mr. Grosjean, can you please explain to me and to all the Formula One fans worldwide why this keeps happening to you?

Here is a quote from Fernando, who obviously lost the most in this whole debacle, although one could also make that argument for Hamilton. I pulled this off the BBC website from one of my favorite bloggers – Andrew Benson.

Alonso, a double world champion, refused to criticize Grosjean, who was his teammate at Renault in the second half of 2009. “I am not angry,” he said. “No-one does this on purpose. They were fighting, two aggressive drivers on the start – Lewis and Roman – and this time it was us in the wrong place and the wrong moment.” However, he pointed out that Grosjean’s record does not make good reading, saying: “It’s true also that in 12 races, Roman had seven crashes at the start, so…”

I love it when drivers get all philosophical after some huge drama, just makes me think that inside they are cussing their hearts out. Maybe I would be more forgiving if this didn’t all seem so … familiar. When I was at Spa back in 2009 there was also a first lap incident. I will give you one and only one guess who caused that one. That’s correct, Mr. Grosjean, while driving for Renault. In fact not only is the incident similar, Grosjean also managed to crash out points leader Jenson Button in that race as well.

Here is a little re-cap of the first lap at Spa 2009. As the race started everyone seemed to make a good start apart from Rubens Barrichello, who almost stalled his car, causing him to drop to the back of the field. At Les Combes, at the top of the hill, a crash caused the safety car to come out. Grosjean ran into the back of Button who in turn spun 180° and collided with Grosjean for a second time, causing them both to retire. Hamilton backed off after seeing the incidents ahead of him, which caused Jaime Alguersuari to run into him; both crashed into the barrier and retired. I guess you could say Hamilton really is the one that has suffered the most at the hands of Grosjean at Spa … both times.

So for the 2012 incident, the stewards hand out a one-race ban punishment and everyone agrees that while harsh it is well deserved. I hope it helps prevent unnecessary first lap incidents, but will it? I’m not sure that even a more severe penalty would change the behavior of some drivers. They’re already risking the worst punishment of all – not being able to complete one lap, let alone finish the race, when they’re driving a top team car. Drivers should have enough judgment by the time they get to F1 to know the risk is not worth the reward. And by the way, Fernando has never ever crashed anybody out on the first lap.

I leave you with this quote from Mark Webber, one of F1’s elder statesman and a driver that I highly respect. “You [the governing body] do need to get involved, but some guys are having more incidents than the others and they need to take that on board,” said the Red Bull driver. “We should be the best at what we do, racing in all conditions on all kinds of tracks, and driver etiquette has to match that.”

And by the way – don’t crash Alonso out anymore, bitches…jp

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