Back in 2012 Romain Grosjean caused a nasty first corner crash at Spa which ended up eliminating Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Sergio Perez from the race. As a result he got the F1 equivalent of being told to go and sit on the naughty step as the FIA handed him a one-race ban so that he could take some time to think about what he’d done.
Fast forwards to 2017 and Grosjean was again involved in a big first lap crash, only this time he wasn’t at fault. Carlos Sainz clumsily chopped across the front of the Haas driver and lost control in a big way, spearing Felipe Massa out of the race. As a result the Toro Rosso driver has a three-place grid penalty for the race in Baku.
Because Massa was the big loser in the crash he naturally has an opinion about it, and he reckons that what Sainz did was as bad was what Grosjean did back in 2012. He said:
“When I saw [the crash], I saw that he [Sainz] started it, which is a shame. Because I don’t think it was so different, what he did, compared to what Grosjean did, and he [Sainz] only lost three places at the start. This is something that I remember before, when Grosjean was doing in a bit dangerous manoeuvres so they put him one race at home. But now I think maybe they need to be strong as well. Fortunately nothing happened [in Canada] but it could have been like a big accident. And I think if we had a big accident, the result would have been different, which is not correct.”
Massa questioned the severity and consistency of the penalty given that similar penalties have also been issued to other drivers for much more minor incidents. He added:
“We saw so many people losing three places by doing a very little thing – and then you are doing a lot more dangerous thing and you have three places. It’s inconsistent.”
Another thumbs down for the stewarding in Canada then, but if he wants to make a complaint about it he’ll have to queue up behind Daniil Kvyat…
Sainz blamed the crash on the fact that Grosjean was in his blind spot and claimed that he couldn’t see him in his mirrors. Massa did actually agree that the visibility out of the mirrors is a problem and called for the FIA to launch an investigation:
“Mirrors is a problem and, if you don’t see, then you need to change. I think the FIA needs to do an investigation and if somebody is not seeing the right way, they cannot race with these mirrors, they need to change the mirrors. The mirrors is something [important] for the safety as well.”
Sainz is hot property on the driver market at the moment and he’s pretty high up on the shopping list of a number of teams.
However Haas boss Gunther Steiner said that he’s damaging his reputation with his incidents, having already caused a crash with Lance Stroll back in Bahrain. He said:
“I think he should know better, he is a better driver than that to do this in my opinion. To run into [Grosjean] once and then go back and run into him a second time was, like, come on. I don’t think he needs to have this behaviour because he is better than that as a driver, he is a good driver. This is hurting his reputation because people think about this. It is not one incident, if a guy has one incident it is like ‘hey we all make mistakes’ which you hold your hand up but it seems like [there are] getting more and more, and here this year when he ran into Stroll. If you do it once, it is fine, but if you keep on doing it, it is like – ‘is he actually not as good as I think he is’, you know?”
Some pretty strong words there about one of the sports most highly-rated young drivers! Then again it’s hardly surprising that it’s Massa and Haas that are being the most vocal about it as they’re the ones that lost out from Sainz’s crash.
Of course the big difference between Sainz’s Montreal crash and Grosjean’s Spa crash is that Grosjean took out a couple of championship contenders. If Sainz had done the same then maybe he’d have been dealt with more harshly…
What do you think? Is Sainz’s three-place grid drop and a couple of penalty points on his superlicence a fair punishment, or should he have been dealt something more severe? Let us know in the comments!