Lotus driver Romain Grosjean has to swallow Italian Grand Prix ban

Kimi Raikkonen celebrates his third-place finish in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix for Lotus. Picture: Lorenzo Bellanca Kimi Raikkonen celebrates his third-place finish in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix for Lotus. Picture: Lorenzo Bellanca

Monday, September 3, 2012
4:57 PM

Kimi Räikkönen once again impressed for Hethel-backed Lotus – but it was his team-mate who was the focus of attention after a dramatic Belgian Grand Prix.

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Romain Grosjean launches his Lotus into the sky after the horror opening corner smash at Spa Francorchamps on Sunday. Picture: Luca BrunoRomain Grosjean launches his Lotus into the sky after the horror opening corner smash at Spa Francorchamps on Sunday. Picture: Luca Bruno

It was 2011 GP2 champion Romain Grosjean who instigated a huge opening corner pile-up in Sunday’s grand prix at Spa Francorchamps, sending a host of cars out of the race – and plenty watching fearing an even higher price.

Grosjean has since been banned for Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix at Monza and fined €50,000 for his misdemeanour.

“When your life is all about racing, not being allowed to attend an event is probably one of the worst experiences you can go through,” said the Frenchman. “That said, I do respect the verdict of the stewards.

“I got a good start – despite being disturbed by Pastor Maldonado’s early launch, which I think was the case for everybody at the front – and was heading into the first corner when the rear of my car made contact with the front of Lewis Hamilton’s.

“I honestly thought I was ahead of him and there was enough room for both cars; I didn’t deliberately try to squeeze him or anything like that. This first corner situation obviously isn’t what anyone would want to happen and thankfully no one was hurt in the incident.

“I wish to apologise to the drivers who were involved and to their fans. I can only say that today is part of a process that will make me a better driver.”

Räikkönen found safe passage to see his E20 home on the third step of the podium – possibly less than the Finn and his team at Enstone had hoped for before the race, but enough to send Kimi fourth in the drivers’ championship and keep Lotus third in the constructors’ standings.

“I made a pretty OK start…I saw a lot of action in the mirrors but luckily it missed me,” said Räikkönen. “Unfortunately, we didn’t have the pace today. My car wasn’t great all weekend and we couldn’t find a competitive set-up.

“On new tyres it was OK but we had to use a lot of downforce to prevent sliding. That meant we were very slow on the straight. You could see that in my battle with Michael Schumacher. Each time I passed him he just went straight back past down the Kemmel straight.

“My only chance was to go for a gap at Eau Rouge. Luckily it paid off and I managed to stay ahead of him that time. We didn’t have the pace today and it wasn’t an easy race, so P3 was not too bad.”

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