SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, Belgium, September 3 – Lotus team chief Eric Boullier hopes his errant French driver Romain Grosjean will learn from his errors this season after being handed a one-race ban and a 50,000 Euros fine at Sunday’s Belgian Grand prix.
Compatriot Boullier said he believed Grosjean’s punishment for triggering an opening lap pile-up that eliminated four cars was ‘severe’, but added that if the penalty helped him improve in the future it was a good thing.
The crash marred a spectacular race won by Briton Jenson Button of McLaren who kept alive his own slim championship hopes with a consummate drive from pole position to the chequered flag.
Button is now sixth in the title race with 101 points, trailing leader Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari by 63. Defending champion German Sebastian Vettel, who finished second on Sunday, is second with 140 ahead of Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber, on 132, Finn Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus on 131 and Briton Lewis Hamilton of McLaren on 117.
Grosjean, 26, will miss next weekend’s Italian Grand Prix after being the first driver to receive a ban since Finn Mika Hakkinen of McLaren at the 1994 German Grand Prix.
Asked if he will learn from his experiences, Bouillier said: “I can only say yes, I hope so. Obviously the penalty is done to make people understand what they did.
“So the penalty can help him learn to do better in the future and I am happy about that.”
His over-aggressive change of direction at the start of the race saw Grosjean swerve right and into the McLaren of Briton Lewis Hamilton, forcing his car into a multiple collision involving championship leader Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari and the Saubers of Mexican Sergio Perez and Japanese Kamui Kobayashi.
Kobayashi, after repairs, was the only driver who could continue in the race while Alonso, dazed and suffering back pains, climbed out after evading serious head injuries by a narrow margin when Grosjean’s Lotus car was launched over his Ferrari.
The race stewards declared Grosjean’s involvement to represent a ‘serious’ breach of the regulations. It was the seventh time in 12 races this season that the Frenchman has been involved in an opening lap collision.
He has previously been in incidents in Australia, Malaysia, Spain, Monaco, Britain and Germany.
Boullier said: “He was not responsible for seven incidents. But, he was involved in seven incidents, which is different.
“But obviously being in the wrong place is not good; and that means we have to keep working and talking, which is more talking I think, about the reason why he is in the wrong place.
Boullier added that he was undecided about whether Grosjean should go to Monza and attend the Italian Grand Prix, but said: “He is part of the team, he should be there and that is it.”
Grosjean said: “When you love racing this is very hard. I accept my mistake.
“We know that La Source is a very tough corner. It was a bit of a crazy start as well with Maldonado leaving the grid so early and the Sauber of Kobayashi smoking a lot.
“I did a mistake and I misjudged the gap with Lewis. I was sure I was in front of him. So a small mistake made a big incident.
“I didn’t change my line, I went from left to right. I was not really wanting to put anyone in the wall – I’m not here to stop the race in the first corner.
“I’m very, very sorry and I’m glad that nobody is hurt. But I have to say it is a very, very hard decision to hear.”
He added that he had been involved in too many incidents.
He said: “I did too many. If there is more than one then that is too many, I agree.
“But as I say it is not always the same. It’s not over-aggressive by braking 200 metres too late, it’s just most of the time misjudgement of the space I have in front or the space I have on the side.”