Apologetic Romain Grosjean promises to clean up his first-lap act
Lotus driver says sorry to Webber after their crash at Suzuka
Last Updated: October 11, 2012 2:08pm
A contrite Romain Grosjean has publicly apologised to Mark Webber for crashing into his Red Bull at Suzuka and vowed to do everything he can to clean up his first-lap act.
Having become the first F1 driver in almost two decades to suffer a race suspension after causing the mass mayhem at the start of September's Belgian GP, the Lotus driver was castigated last week after ramming into the side of Webber's Red Bull at the second corner at Suzuka.
The Australian branded the Frenchman a "nutcase" as he reacted with understandable anger to a collision which effectively removed him from the World Championship fight before confronting the 26-year-old in the Lotus garage.
"Mark came to see me, and I completely understand why he was unhappy," a chastened Grosjean confirmed as he sat alongside Webber in the Thursday press conference at Korea. "All I could do was apologise. I was very sorry."
The collision was the sixth first-lap crash which Grosjean has been involved in this year. It's a statistic which the youngster is acutely aware of - not least because any further indiscretions could jeopardise his position with a Lotus team which has insisted that the onus is firmly on Grosjean to fix his errant ways.
"I've spoken quite a lot to the team, they aren't happy, I'm not happy. There are five hundred and fifty people at Enstone trying to give us the best car and if you ruin everything at the first corner then it's not good," Romain told Sky Sports F1's Johnny Herbert when asked how he would be approaching the start of this weekend's Korean GP.
"I will try to take as many precautions as possible through the first lap. I'm not stupid, I'm clearly conscious of the risk of the start and I'm working to change quite a few things, but that doesn't just happen from one day to the next. There is a process going on."
Grosjean also seemed to suggest that the mistake he made in Suzuka was focusing on rebuffing the advances of Sergio Perez around the first corner before slamming into Webber's RB8 as it slowed through the second turn.
"Hopefully it will be a different story now and I won't make the mistake of focusing on the wrong targets," he added.
The great pity is that, but for his repeated failings off the line, Grosjean would have been considered one of the stars of the season. Since Suzuka, the Lotus driver has been offered help from former World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart - an offer which Sky F1 pundit Martin Brundle hopes he will accept.
"He probably does need the help of someone like Sir Jackie Stewart although it would have been better if this was public afterwards rather than beforehand," Martin wrote in his column for this website.
"I believe Grosjean's pace and ability deserve time and attention for his undeniable problem with contact in close combat, especially on the first lap when so much is going on. At those moments it's pure instinct but he is making the wrong decisions under pressure.
"Assuming his eyesight his fine then his brain must be processing information in the wrong way at those critical moments. It cannot be a run of bad luck and yet it's surely fixable and I wish him luck. He won't get many more chances."