Romain Grosjean edging towards race ban after Leclerc collision

United States Grand Prix – Haas’ Romain Grosjean added to his penalty point tally after being deemed at fault for crashing into Sauber’s Charles Leclerc.

Grosjean was racing Leclerc down the back straight on the opening lap of Sunday’s race when, hard under braking for Turn 12, he slid into the side of the Sauber and spun him around. Due to the suspension damage, Grosjean was out on the spot: “I had a decent start. There was a lot of action going on. I was fighting with Charles (Leclerc) and Esteban (Ocon). I got to turn 12 and I braked early because I was behind them. I didn’t want to take much risk, but I ended up in the dirty air and I couldn’t stop the car.”

“I tried to avoid the contact as much as I could, but Charles was trying to get a good exit and I hit him. I feel sorry for Charles and I’m frustrated for the team. This being our home race, we wanted to do well. It’s not been a great afternoon.”

The incident was investigated by the stewards, who deemed him at fault for the clash and awarded him one penalty point, stating that they took into consideration the fact that telemetry showed Grosjean has braked earlier due to the positioning of cars ahead. The point takes his tally to 10. 12 points triggers an automatic race ban, a rule introduced due, in part, to the ban Grosjean himself earned in 2012 for causing the Belgian Grand Prix first lap carnage. Grosjean has also been given a three place grid penalty for Mexico City this weekend.

Charles Leclerc was able to continue in the race, pitting for repairs at the end of Lap 1 and taking on a new front wing. However, the damage was more extensive than initially thought and Sauber chose to retire his car at half distance: “It is frustrating to finish the race like this.” said Leclerc. “It was clear that the potential was there to achieve a good result, especially after starting from P9 today. After the incident on the first lap, the car was just too damaged for us to extract enough performance to allow us to be competitive enough to race properly – even after changing the nose and tyres just after it happened. In the end, I had to retire from the race early, which is a shame. Our performance was strong this weekend, and we will take that with us to Mexico and build on it.”

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Thomas Maher

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