|© AP Photo/Dimitar Dilkoff, Pool
Romain Grosjean has been handed a one-race ban and fined €50,000 for causing a spectacular crash at the first corner of the opening lap at the Belgian Grand Prix on Sunday.
After the five red lights went out, the Frenchman squeezed Lewis Hamilton as he went for a small gap and clipped the McLaren that sent both cars spinning and led to Grosjean's Lotus flying over Fernando Alonso's Ferrari, which then took out Sergio Perez's Sauber.
All four escaped unhurt although the crash compromised the outing of a few other drivers too.
“The stewards regard this incident as an extremely serious breach of the regulations which had the potential to cause injury to others,” read a statement from the FIA.
“It eliminated leading championship contenders from the race. The stewards note the team conceded the action of the driver was an extremely serious mistake and an error of judgement,” it added.
Lotus accepted the verdict and the FIA said "neither the team nor the driver made any submission in mitigation" of the penalty.
“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,” Grosjean said. “That said, I do respect the verdict of the stewards.”
The 27-year-old pointed out that he thought he was well clear of his rivals at the start.
“I honestly thought I was ahead of (Hamilton) and there was enough room for both cars; I didn’t deliberately try to squeeze him or anything like that,” he clarified apologising to the drivers involved and their fans.
It is likely that reserve driver Jerome D’Ambrosio, who was with Virgin last year, may take Grosjean’s place at the Italian Grand Prix next weekend.
Team principal Eric Boullier said that Lotus would announce the name of the replacement “a bit later in the week”.