Lotus Japan GP review: Grosjean and Kimi left to deal with first lap incidents
Kimi Räikkönen’s solid sixth finish was not enough to help his diminished drivers’ title hopes at the Japanese Grand Prix – but he still had a better time of it than his Lotus team-mate.
Another first lap accident for Romain Gosjean left his fellow drivers pointing the finger and Red Bull’s Mark Webber describing the Frenchman as “a first lap nutcase”.
Grosjean had served a one-race ban at Monza after causing the horrific first corner crash at Spa. This time around, Grosjean was a little unlucky with what happened in front of him.
However, the pressure was clearly having an effect on Grosjean as the driver looked visibly upset when talking to the media after the race at Suzuka – where Grosjean came home 19th despite his E20 being retired with a couple of laps remaining.
“Ever since I came back in Singapore my priority has been to be very cautious at the start, and I was watching Sergio (Perez) on my left to make sure there was no contact with him,” explained Grosjean.
“There was quite a big speed difference between me and Mark as I came into the first corner, which caught me by surprise and we collided. It was a stupid mistake.
“Mark came to see me after the race and was obviously not happy, but I apologised and we have to move on. We’ll sit down and look at things again before the next race to see what we can do to improve these situations.
“In the last few laps of the race the tyres were at the end of their life and we were out of the points, so it made sense to retire. Not a good day, but we have to look ahead to Korea and a chance to make amends.”
It was Räikkönen, third in the title standings and now 37 points behind championship leader Fernando Alonso, who clashed with the Spaniard in a separate opening lap collision and cause the Ferrari to puncture and end its race.
The Finn added: “Sixth wasn’t the result we were hoping for but unfortunately we didn’t have the speed to do better.
“The start was very tight; I was alongside Fernando straight away and he kept moving further across until there was nowhere left go. We lost some time there and our second pit stop wasn’t the best, so overall it was quite a difficult race. The good thing is we still managed to score points to stay in touch in the championship.”