Alonso reflects on good fortune
Updated: 2012-09-04 08:09
By Agence France-Presse in Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium (China Daily)
Lotus' Romain Grosjean, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and McLaren Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton are involved in a brutal collision after the start of racing at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit on Sunday. Tom Gandolfini / Agence France-Presse
F1 points leader says spectacular crash could have easily led to serious injury
Fernando Alonso said he felt fortunate to have escaped serious injury in Sunday's Belgian Grand Prix when he was almost struck by Romain Grosjean's airborn Lotus.
Spaniard Alonso of Ferrari was left as a stranded victim of a multiple collision triggered by Frenchman Grosjean's impetuous aggression.
Alonso said: "I'm disappointed because of the points lost, but I'm also lucky that I can be in the car in five days at Monza because - looking at the images - we were turning in so you could have a problem with your hands or even your head because Grosjean's car was so close.
"I think we broke everything on top of the car. It was lucky in that aspect."
Alonso said he could not understand how the accident happened until he saw the replays.
He said: "I didn't know what happened until I saw it on TV because it was difficult to imagine how the hit could be so big or how a car could be on you so quickly.
"After seeing it on TV, I saw Grosjean and Lewis touch each other. They lost control and then it was in front of us."
The Spaniard took a few moments to assess his condition before climbing from his wrecked Ferrari.
"I stayed in the car for a few seconds because I had back pain," he explained.
"Then there was a little bit of fire so they came with extinguishers and I decided to jump out because I could not breathe with all the smoke there."
Alonso added that the start had been eventful even before the accident.
"The first thing was (Pastor) Maldonado," he said. "I was surprised because we still had the red lights and he was already P3 or P2.
"So it was a big jumped start. Then the start was good, I overtook the two Saubers and was in third position. Then I started turning in and then it felt like a train coming. It was a big, big hit."
Alonso's elimination meant the end of his unbroken run of points-scoring finishes this year - and saw his lead in the title race cut to 24 points.
Grosjean banned, fined
Grosjean was given a one-race ban and fined 50,000 euros ($62,840) for causing the first-corner crash.
After a thrilling race marred by the wild driving of both Grosjean and Maldonado, the Venezuelan was also punished for his part in the chaos by being penalized 10 grid places at the Italian Grand Prix next Sunday.
Maldonado, of Williams, jumped the start and then crashed later into German Timo Glock of the Marussia team.
But it was the 26-year-old Lotus driver Grosjean who triggered the accidents that led to his elimination along with those of world championship leading Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, Briton Lewis Hamilton of McLaren and Mexican Sergio Perez of Sauber.
Grosjean swerved to the right at the start of the race and, in an aggressive change of direction, drove into Hamilton as the race began and the field drove into the perilous Eau Rouge corner.
Hamilton was rammed by Grosjean just behind his front-left wheel and was unable to stop from colliding with Alonso and the two Sauber cars.
Perez's Sauber teammate Japanese Kamui Kobayashi had made a slow start from second on the grid and his race was almost wrecked by the accident, but he survived the worst of the carnage to continue and finish 13th.
It was a day when the Swiss team's best hopes after its best-ever qualifying session on Saturday turned into a nightmare.
Grosjean said he was not sure who caused the accident.
Speaking during the race, he said: "I had a very good start and then boom - it was the end of the race."
The race stewards held an investigation and said Grosjean was responsible.
He was given a one-race ban and will miss next weekend's Italian Grand Prix at Monza.
In a statement, the stewards said: "The stewards regard this incident as an extremely serious breach of the regulations, which had the potential to cause injury to others.
"It eliminated leading championship contenders from the race."
The stewards added that Lotus and Grosjean had not tried to contest the stewards' verdict.
"The stewards note the team conceded the action of the driver was an extremely serious mistake and an error of judgement," it said.
"Neither the team nor the driver made any submission in mitigation of penalty."
Lotus has former Virgin driver Belgian Jerome D'Ambrosio as a reserve.
(China Daily 09/04/2012 page23)