Drivers fortunate to escape La Source pile-up
2 September 2012 – The crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix was one of the scariest seen in Formula 1 for some time. Triggered by Romain Grosjean, who is likely to receive a hefty penalty, no less than three cars were launched high into the air in front of a charging pack.
After Pastor Maldonado jumped the start, Grosjean squeezed Lewis Hamilton onto the grass. The now out-of-control McLaren duly tobogganed into the Lotus, taking out both Sergio Pérez – who clipped Maldonado – and championship leader Fernando Alonso. Kamui Kobayashi was also tagged, ruining Sauber’s superb second and fourth grid slots.
As the F1 paddock begins to leave Spa, everybody is breathing a sigh of relief after Grosjean’s car missed Alonso’s head by centimetres.
“A good start, then a big boom and then off - I haven’t seen the images but the main thing is that we are all okay,” Grosjean told reporters before being asked if he had moved over too soon. “I don’t know…as I say I haven’t seen the footage yet.”
The Frenchman’s rivals were less sympathetic.
“Yeah I’m okay,” Pérez told BBC Sport. “I think we paid for the mistakes of other drivers. It’s a shame for myself and for the team and we’re looking forward to the next one.”
The crash marked a highly disappointing end for Hamilton, who refused to speak to the media until after the race and who had arrived in Belgium as the most recent F1 winner.
“I don’t really want to talk about the start,” Hamilton said bluntly. “I think people can see what happened, but huge congratulations to Jenson (Button) on a fantastic race which was like a walk in the park for him. It’s great to see that the team has great pace.”
FIA stewards are not likely to take kindly to Grosjean, whose start-line tactics have already been questioned this season – not least in Monaco when he moved over on Michael Schumacher and consequently spun across the chasing field. Today’s collision is also likely to rekindle the debate over closed cockpit racing in the sport.