Japan GP review: Grosjean bashing unjustified (inc video footage)
I’m a little perturbed about the F1 fraternity’s reaction to Romain Grosjean today. Grosjean bashing appears to be many of F1’s figures favourite sport this year and at times its prejudicial and poor form. It reminds me a lot of the way senior MotoGP personnel were treating an exciting young gun called Simoncelli last year before his tragic death.
Let’s remember he is not being accused of deliberately driving into anyone and will not be removed from the season’s records as has happened in the past when a certain individual was accused of doing just that.
Romain is clearly very quick and unlike some of the petulant F1 drivers a very likeable young man who always own’s up to his mistakes (again unlike some) and was clearly distraught when interviewed at the end of the race.
To be fair, Nico Rosberg’s response when questioned what kind of penalty Romain should receive made it clear it was not for him to comment. It’s a shame some of the other driver’s do not behave with a little more circumspection over these matters.
Of course 7 first lap incidents involving Romain is statistically relevant, but each incident should be examined individually and treated accordingly.
Compare today’s incident with Kimi and Alonso with the one between Lewis and Grosjean in Belgium. Kimi realising he had no where to go moves wide onto the grass and slows slightly to move in behind Alonso. Lewis did not do this in Spa and the resulting interlocking of the wheels of the McLaren and the Lotus caused the first corner carnage we all remember well.
I’ve watched the Spa footage several times, and yes there is a wall to Lewis’ right (which Kimi didn’t have to deal with today), but there was more than enough room for him to move right and do exactly what Raikkonen did today. Lewis didn’t even move far enough to touch the white line near the edge of the track. Grosjean was slated by many and of course banned for 1 race. (video footage)
In Monaco Romain’s start incident with Schumacher is different. There is no where for Michael to go but into the wall, yet interestingly Coultard a multiple winner in Monaco and driver for a top team for many years calls it a racing incident without as he watches the replay. (video footage)
It’s great Mark Webber is so anti political correctness, and his comment after winning the British Grand Prix when Red Bull had taken front wing and giving it to Vettel is iconic. “Not bad for a number 2 driver”.
So maybe we need to take Mark’s reaction today with a pinch of salt, he called Grosjean that “first lap nutcase” having battled from last back to finish 9th after their collision at the second corner after the start.
The Monaco and Spa incidents were due to lateral collisions, but today’s was caused by closing speed. Webber needs to remember how tough it is to judge closing speed at times.
In Valencia 2010 he was catching a Lotus on a fairly long and enormously wide straight piece of track, yet trying to be clever he stayed in line to presumably get the tow and misjudged the closing speed – flying into the back of Kovalainen and launching his car into the air like some fighter jet taking off from an air craft carrier.
The commentator on the TV channel I where I saw the replays was dismissive of Webber, calling the lack of judgement “utter stupidity” and suggesting a driver of his experience should know much better. (video link)
One of the reasons for today’s incidents was because as happens all too often Webber had a pretty poor start being overtaken by Kobayashi. Turn 1 is flat out and you can see Webber is wider as he begins to turn into the second corner than both Vettel and Kobayashi had been.
Also worthy of note; as the front 3 approach turn 1, they are roughly and equal distance apart, but by the time Grosjean hits Webber there is a significant gap between the Red Bull and Kobayashi in front of him. This means Webber as lifted to regain position on the track and slowed and he actually gets closer to the apex than Kobayashi had managed – more evidence of Webber lifting on the throttle.
Grosjean has taken the corner much better than Webber and is carrying more speed in his battle with Perez. The resulting impact for me is a combination of a sudden change in closing speed between Grosjean and Webber and a disappearing gap.
Now of course as all good students of driving codes will know, in a collision, the driver in the rear is blamed as they should allow enough distance to avoid the car in front. But for goodness sake, this is F1. That’s how the stewards called it and that is how the record of fault has been made.
One respected commentator suggested Romain needs to have a more reflective attitude at the start of the race, a suggestion I find clearly ridiculous. These are drivers of highly powerful prototype projectiles being hurled into a bottleneck where they know often track position at the end of the first lap will define their ultimate potential for the rest of the race.
At least the team were thinking smart and kept Grosjean going and only retiring the car late in the race. This means his punishment has now been awarded to the maximum during the race with a 10 second stop and go penalty. Calls for further bans have no precedence as the matter has been tried and judged with the sentence already handed out.
For UK viewers, here’s footage from the BBC of Grosjean’s first lap incidents before today. Make you’re own minds up. (Please someone with the technical skill put it on YouTube). (Link)
Please leave a comment with your observations.
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