'Dangerous' Romain Grosjean has not learnt from past crashes, claim Red Bull
Published 09/10/2012 | 09:18
Christian Horner, the Red Bull principal, has attacked the behaviour of Lotus driver Romain Grosjean after the 26 year-old Frenchman ran into the back of his driver Mark Webber's car on the opening lap of Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix in Suzuka. Horner told Lotus they need to control their impetuous young driver.
After Webber had visited the Lotus hospitality cabin and hammered angrily on the door demanding an audience with Grosjean, who was banned from last month's Italian GP after causing another first-corner accident in Belgium, Horner, said: "He is capable of doing it, as he is obviously a quick driver, but so many incidents is unacceptable at this level.
"He needs to really talk to himself, or the team needs to talk to him, because not only is it dangerous for others, but he has cost himself and his team a colossal amount of points – together with the innocent victims that he has collected en route."
Horner, whose own drivers Webber and Sebastian Vettel memorably collided while fighting for the lead in Turkey two years ago, said his biggest concern was that Grosjean does not appear to have learned from his recent ban.
"I think Mark has every right to express his feelings, and I think that it was just a complete misjudgement by Grosjean," he said. "The most important thing when you make a mistake is to learn from it, and I think the most disappointing thing is that it is a repeat incident and proved extremely costly for Mark. Grosjean doesn't appear to be learning from his mistakes."
Lotus chief Éric Boullier has put the responsibility for that, and for finding the way to avoid first-lap incidents, firmly on Grosjean himself. "We have spoken a lot," Boullier said, "but only he can fix this problem. He has to find the right balance in these situations and only he can do that because he is the only one driving the car.
"I think Romain has the privilege to be talented, and he has a car fast enough to qualify at the front of the grid. If you look at his career he was a bit of a hot-headed driver until he got some confidence, but F1 is not as patient as a junior category.
"It's about trying to make the kid self-confident enough to cool down and control the race start, and this is what we are trying to do since the beginning of the year."
After Webber had described him as "a first-lap nutcase," a repentant Grosjean said: "Ever since I came back in Singapore my priority has been to be very cautious at the start, and I was watching Sergio [Perez] on my left to make sure there was no contact with him. There was quite a big speed difference between me and Mark as I came into the first corner which caught me by surprise, and we collided. It was a stupid mistake. Mark came to see me after the race and was obviously not happy, but I apologised. We have to look ahead to Korea and a chance to make amends."
Rumours the FIA is to consider another ban for Grosjean are wide of the mark. The stewards of the Japanese GP imposed a 10-second stop-and-go penalty on him during the race after his clash with Webber, and there is no facility to reopen such incidents after they have been dealt with. They are highly likely, however, via the stewards in South Korea this weekend, to keep a close eye on the Lotus driver.
Dangerman: Grosjean's year of accidents
Australian GP, 18 March
Grosjean criticises Pastor Maldonado after a clash on second lap forces the Frenchman to retire. No disciplinary action was taken.
Malaysian GP, 25 March
Grosjean spins off on lap four after a first-lap collision with Michael Schumacher takes its toll. The 26-year-old blames Schumacher.
Spanish GP, 13 May
Sergio Perez is forced to retire with a puncture following a first-lap collision with Grosjean.
Monaco GP, 28 May
Hits Schumacher going into the first corner, which also forces Kamui Kobayashi and Maldonado to retire.
British GP, 8 July
Forces Paul di Resta out of the race after contact on lap one.
German GP, 22 July
Hits Felipe Massa and then collides with Bruno Senna, also on lap one.
Hungarian GP, 29 July
Brushes his Lotus team-mate Kimi Raikkonen and nearly takes him out of the race. Grosjean later finishes third.
Belgian GP, 2 September
Grosjean is banned for one race, and fined €50,000 (£40,000) after the first-corner smash with Fernando Alonso), which took out three other drivers, including Lewis Hamilton. Grosjean apologised for his actions after the race.
Japanese GP, 7 October
Given 10-second stop-go penalty for colliding with Mark Webber on first lap, pushing the Red Bull driver off the track. Webber later labels Grosjean a "first-lap nutcase", and "embarrassing".