Much has been said of Romain Grosjean’s dangerous move on Lewis Hamilton, and the swift and unforgiving penalty issued afterwards.
Some have argued that the penalty is inconsistent with penalties issued to other incidents, and they would be correct. Pastor Maldonado causing a deliberate crash in Monaco springs to mind, where he was only handed a grid penalty.
Others claim that this crash must be used as the basis for all other penalties in the future. Fernando Alonso’s lucky escape has reminded us of how dangerous such incidents can be.
Personally I agree with both arguments, however I think that the problem is far more wide-reaching than many have realised. The fact that Grosjean and Maldonado, two of the newest GP2 rookies, continue to cause crashes is a huge cause for concern.
The drivers of GP2 and other feeder series all share the same sentiment – that they must push the rules to the maximum, and push the other drivers to the limit, in order to make progress, in both the race and their career. This kind of reasoning often results in huge, unnecessary accidents, as demonstrated this year in Monaco:
In that video, Dimitry Suranovich decided to keep on driving, despite having no rear wing on his car. He braked earlier into the chicane, and Conor Daly powered into the back of the GP3 machine, causing a huge crash and a near fatality, as the marshals post was almost wiped out.
Incredibly, Daly was awarded a 10 place grid penalty, while Suranovich walked away scot free. Aside from the sheer stupidity of the decision itself, the problem is this: if GP2 drivers are allowed to drive dangerously in their feeder series, then they will probably continue that in F1.
I’m not the only one who feels this way – Ferrari principal Stefano Domenicali urged the FIA to improve driving standards in lower formulae series:
"In my view, the most important thing is looking at the behaviour of drivers. It has
to start in the championships before Formula 1.
You see it too often in the other series that drivers are very aggressive and try to
do something almost over what it is possible to do, so it is important to be very
strict since they start racing and then they will arrive in F1 in a better condition
So far, Grosjean has been involved in 7 first-lap accidents out of 12 races. Pastor Maldonado has received 9 penalties, and deserves a few more, in my opinion. However, neither of them has been handed anything more than a 10 place grid penalty – until yesterday.
I fully support the decision to ban Grosjean from Monza, as it is the only way the stewards and FIA can lay down the law. If a rugby player interferes in a scrum or ruck, for example, he is sin-binned and forced to sit out a portion of the match. The same should apply to F1 – if a driver clearly breaks the rules in a dangerous manner, they should be made to watch from the sidelines.
I’m almost certain that Romain will learn more from this ban than any other grid penalty or paltry fine. The same should apply to Maldonado as well, seeing as he has never learned from his previous penalties.
Perhaps this first-lap crash was a hidden blessing for the sport. As well as all of the drivers escaping without injury, it has forced many to look again at today’s driving standards, and to see how F1 can be made safer in the future. If the stewards can crack down on irresponsible driving from now on, then Formula 1 can set the standard for safer motorsport in the future.