Photos: Start mayhem eliminates Alonso, Hamilton, Grosjean and Perez
2 September, 2012
Aug.2 (Apex) Mayhem ensued as the red lights went out to start the Belgian Grand Prix, which resulted in the immediate elimination of championship leader Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez with several other cars suffering minor damage.
The chaos appeared to be triggered when the Lotus of Romain Grosjean edged into the path of the McLaren of Lewis Hamilton which resulted in contact, thereafter the two became projectiles which proceeded to skittle everything in front of them as they hurtled uncontrolled towards turn one.
Luckless and unsighted were Fernando Alonso and the Sauber pair, the Lotus and McLaren low flying over the Ferrari. Four cars ending wrecked, stationary and steaming – their races run.
Several other cars escaped with minor damage including Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber. It was a luckless day for the Swiss team who 24 hours earlier had been celebrating their finest moment in qualifying.
Hamilton jumped out of his destroyed McLaren and walked towards Grosjean gesticulating before storming through the pitlane to his garage. Alonso was slow to alight his wrecked Ferrari, and needed to be assisted by marshals and medics, but appeared later taking and smiling with his crew in the Ferrari garage.
Alonso commented afterwards, “I have a little bit of pain on my back because of the hit. It is a shame I could not continue the race. I did not know what happened until I saw the TV. The cars behind me touched and lost control, and they were in front of us. It was a disappointment to see points lost but in five days I can be in the car in Monza. You can have an injury in your hand or your head with a crash like that, so I am lucky in that aspect. I felt a train coming with a big, big hit. I stayed in the car due to the hit. There was a bit of fire in the car and I could not breathe because of the smoke so I jumped out.”
Perez gave his view, “I am OK. I think we paid for the mistakes from another driver. I am looking forward to the next race.”
Hamilton sought to avoid controversy, simply telling BBC, “I really don’t want to talk about the start. People can see what happened.”
McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh made no bones about how he felt, “I wouldn’t want to print the words I was thinking when I saw the crash. Grosjean just kept coming, for Lewis and the others, it was a shame for all of them and us as race fans. It is not my business to say if a penalty should be awarded. They were complete victims of an incident.”
After the incident Grosjean was seen watching the accident replay on the Lotus pit gantry, but said, “It was a good start, then a big boom. I have not seen the image, but the main thing is we are all OK. I do not know if I moved over too quickly.”
Three-time world champion Niki Lauda was not impressed, “I’ve never seen such a stupid accident from Grosjean. I would stop him for two races to [make him] start thinking. It was the second time he has done something like this.”
Grosjean was involved in a similar incident at the start of the Monaco GP earlier this year, when he squeezed Michael Schumacher into the barrier and triggered a multi-car pile-up which also ended his race on the spot.
Subbed by AJN.