Romain Grosjean causes carnage again - but do you agree with his criticism?
Just 4 points in it at the top of the Drivers Championship
Sebastian Vettel has become the only driver to take back-to-back victories in 2012, by seeing the chequered flag first in Suzuka, followed by Felipe Massa, and home favourite Kamui Kobayashi. It was Massa’s first podium since Korea 2010 and Kobayashi’s first in Formula One. There was chaos at the start which saw Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg retire from the race, after they both picked up punctures, while Romain Grosjean sent Mark Webber into a spin. Following a disappointing qualifying, McLaren had solid 4th and 5th finishes with Kimi Räikkönen in sixth.
There were a number of key moments in today’s race, particularly Alonso’s retirement at the first corner. Vettel was able to lead from lights to flag, setting the fastest lap on the way, meaning that he is now just four points behind the Ferrari driver in the championship. Also on the first lap, Bruno Senna ran into the back of Rosberg’s car causing the Mercedes driver to retire. This means that Räikkönen is now the only driver to complete every racing lap in 2012, and the Finn still sits third in the championship despite not winning any races. Sergio Perez enjoyed a battle through the race with Lewis Hamilton – the man he will replace at McLaren next year – passing him on the inside into the hairpin. He later tried a repeat move but spun out and retired from the race. Massa and Kobayashi finishing on the podium came at a crucial stage for both drivers, as both are under pressure to retain their seats for 2013. And incidentally, my highlight was the atmosphere of the podium. As the fans waited for the drivers to appear, they took to chanting “Kamui” – a special moment indeed for any driver on the podium at their home race. A podium for Kobayashi has been a long time coming and finally he has got one.
After his first lap collision with Webber, Grosjean was given a ten second stop-go penalty, which is the harshest penalty the stewards can hand out, bar exclusion, for a racing incident. When the race was over, Webber referred to Grosjean as a “first lap nutcase”, with the Lotus driver having been involved in seven first lap incidents this season, although not all his fault. Webber also suggested that Grosjean should “take another holiday”, referring to the one race ban he served at Monza. McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, when asked about it, said it was “typical Grosjean”. Is this harsh on the Lotus driver or is his driving something to be looked at? Earlier in the season we saw Perez refer to Pastor Maldonado as a “stupid” and “dangerous” driver, so it is not the first time a driver has spoken out about the driving of another. It is understandable that drivers may become frustrated and speak their mind, but is the criticism just? Should Grosjean maybe consider a ‘mentor’ or do you agree with Webber that he deserves another ban as he is getting involved in too many first lap accidents? Or is the criticism at times over the top, as at times Grosjean finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time, but it still gets viewed as a first lap incident he was involved with, even if it wasn’t his fault?
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