In today’s post, we will focus on some of the drama that happened during the Spa weekend, especially Lewis Hamilton’s twitter account and Romain Grosjean’s ban for Monza.
But first lets talk about the crash itself that has prompted so much discussion. Let me say this, this crash was absolutely Grosjean’s fault. No one, including Grosjean, is denying that fact. The simple fact is that he cut across Hamilton, believing that he was past. He was not. They rub wheels. Hamilton ends up pushing Grosjean with his front wheels up on the Frenchman’s crash structure. The pair, unable to brake, slams into the side of Alonso and Grosjean catapults over the Spaniard.
Alonso was visibly shaken, and for good reason. The onboard clips are frightening and I am surprised that he did not hurt his hand. While Alonso did stay in the cockpit for a bit after, it seems that is down to shock more. The crash also took out Perez and damaged Kobayashi and very nearly hit Raikkonen.
In the immediate aftermath, Hamilton approached Grosjean, visibly upset. Grosjean talked to Hamilton then and there and seemed to apologize while Alonso stayed in the car.
After the race, Hamilton remained the most obviously upset, with his anger at Grosjean evident. Alonso, on the other hand, seemed to have accepted the Frenchman’s apology while also taking the opportunity to criticize the lower formulae for putting too much pressure on young drivers and not penalizing first lap aggression strongly enough.
This whole crash fits into a context of numerous incidents in both the GP3 and GP2 support races over the Spa weekend. While Alonso did seem the most reasonable, he also had precise and accurate statistics to hand about the number of Grosjean’s first lap incidents (7 out of the 12 races thus far, Grosjean has had some sort of contact, an alarming statistic no doubt).
This crash has brought to the fore, two distinct conversations. The first surrounds driver over-aggression something very evident this year. There is an alarmingly high number of trips to the stewards being done by three drivers, each of whom ascended to F1 through GP3 and GP2, Sergio Perez, Pastor Maldonado and Romain Grosjean.
While I have been particularly critical of Pastor Maldonado (it is his second year of F1), each of these drivers have been involved in a large number of incidents due to over aggressive behavior and a lack of respect to other drivers. As I mentioned, Alonso was the first to call upon junior formulae to punish this kind of behavior more aggressively.
The second conversation surrounds driver safety, particularly the area surrounding the driver’s head, neck, and hands. These are the only exposed areas in the otherwise very safe F1 cars of today, but still technical directors are talking of intensifying focus on protecting the driver.
This conversation originated from several incidents, most notably Felipe Massa’s horror crash in 2009 and Michael Schumacher’s crash at Abu Dhabi where a Force India car ramped up the low nose of the Mercedes and came very close to the driver’s head. At the time, the FIA looked into jet fighter style canopies. This solution was rejected, though, on the grounds of weight and how they slowed driver escape in the case of fire. Another option was a forward roll hoop. This design, however, is horribly ugly and, at the time, severely limited driver visibility. It seems, however, that gains have been made on the visibility front and that is the path that is currently being pursued.
On a completely unrelated note, Lewis Hamilton, during the Spa weekend, tweeted some very confidential information, angering the McLaren team. He tweeted a picture of his traces for a lap. Traces are basically sheets that show things like speed, throttle position, braking and other such information. Included in the image was very sensitive info on ride hight. While Hamilton took down the tweet, the team is none too pleased, calling it a lack of judgement.
Hamilton, however, was expressing his frustration over his higher downforce setup (compared to Button) in one of the few ways available to modern, highly controlled, F1 drivers.