Romain Grosjean will be feeling contrite after being banned from the next race for triggering a huge crash on the first lap in Belgium.
But his ban puts him in surprisingly good company. Several drivers who were handed race bans went on to become world champions.
The last driver to be banned from a race was Michael Schumacher, who was excluded from the Italian and Portuguese Grands Prix in 1994 following a messy incident in that year’s British Grand Prix.
Schumacher had broken the rules by overtaking pole sitter Damon Hill on the formation lap. He was handed a five-second stop-go penalty, which he failed to serve, and was then shown the black flag. Only then did he appear in the pits for his stop-go penalty, six laps after the black flag was first shown.
The FIA rejected Benetton’s appeal that the original penalty had been handed down too late and disqualified Schumacher from the race and two future races.
Before Schumacher could serve his ban another future world champion incurred the FIA’s wrath. Much like Grosjean, Mika Hakkinen was adjudged to be responsible for a first-lap crash in Germany, and was banned from the next race at the Hungaroring.
There was a spate of such exclusions in 1994. Eddie Irvine was banned from one race when he was blamed for a four-car crash in the Brazilian Grand Prix. When his Jordan team appealed the ban it was increased to three races.
Joining Schumacher and Hakkinen in the ‘future champions who were excluded from races’ is Nigel Mansell, who was barred from racing in Spain in 1989 after colliding with Ayrton Senna in Portugal while the stewards were trying to black-flag him for a pit lane infraction.
Since 1994 the only other race exclusions was the BAR team’s two-race ban in 2005 for infringing the technical regulations. Renault were initially banned from the 2009 European Grand Prix when Fernando Alonso lost a wheel during that year’s race in Hungary, but the ban was quashed on appeal.
Some may recall Felipe Massa’s absence from the 2002 United States Grand Prix following a collision with Pedro de la Rosa at Monza. But Massa was not excluded – he had been handed a grid penalty so the team chose to replace him with Heinz-Harald Frentzen.
Lap one crash ruins races
The crash ruined the races of several drivers including both Sauber pilots. This was especially galling for them as Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez had achieved their personal best starting positions with second and fourth respectively, which was also the best combined qualifying performance for Sauber.
Kobayashi equalled the best qualifying performance by a Sauber (they had pole positions as BMW Sauber), which was also achieved by Jean Alesi in the 1998 Austrian and 1999 French Grands Prix.
And Kobayashi also matched the best ever qualifying performance by a Japanese driver – Takuma Sato qualified second for the 2004 European Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.
Another driver whose race was ruined by the first-lap crash was Fernando Alonso. Had he scored in this race he would have equalled Michael Schumacher’s record of 24 consecutive points finishes (set when points were awarded to the top six/eight drivers). Alonso’s last non-score was at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve last year.
Four drivers were eliminated on the first lap. That’s the most since the 2010 Japanese Grand Prix when Vitaly Petrov, Nico Hulkenberg, Felipe Massa, Vitantonio Liuzzi and Lucas di Grassi all retired.
Button’s first pole position for McLaren
Jenson Button claimed his first pole position for McLaren, in his 50th appearance for the team. He now has eight career pole positions, as many as John Surtees and Riccardo Patrese, and is the seventh different pole sitter this season.
He converted it into his 14th career win and his first at Spa-Francorchamps, becoming the first driver to lead every lap of a race this year. Button now has as many wins as fellow world champions Graham Hill, Jack Brabham and Emerson Fittipaldi.
Had he taken the fastest lap as well this would have been Button’s first ever ‘grand slam’. But Bruno Senna beat him to it, setting his first ever fastest lap.
Button’s win means McLaren have scored points in the last 50 consecutive races – the entire duration of the Button-Lewis Hamilton partnership. If they continue to score points in the next six races they’ll beat Ferrari’s record of 55 consecutive points finishes though, again, this record mostly covers races where points only went down to sixth.
Third place for Kimi Raikkonen was the first time he has finished the Belgian Grand Prix in any position other than first. He was classified 18th in 2008 having crashed with two laps to go.
Nico Hulkenberg achieved his highest race finish to date with fourth place. Both Toro Rosso drivers equalled their previous best finishes of eighth (Jean-Eric Vergne) and ninth (Daniel Ricciardo).
Three penalties in one weekend for Maldonado
That will give him a total of nine of the season so far as follows:
|Bahrain Grand Prix||Five-place grid drop||Gearbox change|
|Monaco Grand Prix||Ten-place grid drop||Collision with Perez in practice|
|Monaco Grand Prix||Five-place grid drop||Gearbox change|
|Canadian Grand Prix||Five-place grid drop||Gearbox change|
|European Grand Prix||20-seconds added to race time||Collision with Hamilton|
|Hungarian Grand Prix||Drive-through||Collision with Di Resta|
|Belgian Grand Prix||Three-place grid drop||Impending Hulkenberg in qualifying|
|Belgian Grand Prix||Five-place grid drop for Italian Grand Prix||Jump start|
|Belgian Grand Prix||Five-place grid drop for Italian Grand Prix||Causing a collision with Glock|
Maldonado also received a reprimand and fine for his collision with Perez at Silverstone. He had five penalties last year.
Review the year so far in statistics here:
- 2012 F1 championship points
- 2012 F1 season records
- 2012 F1 race data
- 2012 F1 qualifying data
- 2012 F1 retirements and penalties
- 2012 F1 strategy and pit stops
- 2012 F1 driver form guides
Spotted any other interesting stats and facts from the Belgian Grand Prix? Share them in the comments.
2012 Belgian Grand Prix
- Button wins Belgian GP Driver of the Weekend vote
- Rate the Race Result: 2012 Belgian Grand Prix
- Top ten pictures from the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix
- Predictions win puts Rajamaniarun second
- Vote for your Belgian GP Driver of the Weekend
Image © Ford