Fernando Alonso, McLaren, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018

Hulkenberg accepts blame for first-lap crash as Alonso calls for “harder”penalties

2018 Belgian Grand Prix

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Nico Hulkenberg has admitted responsibility for the first-lap crash which led to five Formula 1 drivers retiring from the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Renault driver said he “misjudged” his braking point at the start and lost downforce from running in the slipstream of other cars.

He confirmed there was “no problem” with his car which contributed to the crash.

“It’s just incredible, to climb out again on lap one, how sensitive these cars are with aerodynamics. When you have a few cars that bunch up in front of you, how much grip and loads you lose.

“When I hit the brakes obviously I instantly locked up the front wheel and just was sliding into Fernando [Alonso]. Probably misjudged a bit on my side. A bit too late on the brakes. A bit too keen.

“Frustrating, obviously, for him, for Charles [Leclerc] as well, and also for myself.”

As well as eliminated Alonso and Leclerc on the spot, Alonso’s car damaged Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull which in turn hit Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari. Both also later retired.

Alonso, who was involved in a similar crash six years ago, sharply criticised Hulkenberg’s driving. The McLaren driver said F1 competitors “should have higher level to race in this series.”

“I am disappointed,” he added. “We had a good start. there were a couple of possibilities into turn one.

“You play cautious, you brake in the same point, you look in the mirror and you see the guys behind that they think this is the last corner of the championships.

“Those kind of mistakes, the starts with high consequences, I think they should be reviewed a little bit harder.”

The stewards are investigating the incident.

This article will be updated.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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14 comments on “Hulkenberg accepts blame for first-lap crash as Alonso calls for “harder”penalties”

  1. Well, at least he’s honest. Would be very easy to blame the car. Expecting a grid penalty for the next race.
    Race ban calls from Alonso, comparing to 2012 with Grosjean, are different as he was consistently causing crashes. This is the first Hulk has caused including other cars for a good while. These things happen. Unfortunate.

    1. @hugh11
      I just don’t see how hulk could blame the car, he had to own up to the error here. Also he gets no brownie points for being honest that’s just expected behaviour.
      Ten place grid penalty sounds about right.

  2. So purely a driver error was behind an incident that subsequently started a chain-reaction. Some type of penalty wouldn’t be wrong, but I doubt it’d be the same Grosjean got six years ago, LOL.

  3. Honest of the Hulk to hold his hand up for his error. A penalty is warranted, to be fair, since without the halo we’d have most likely been staring at a very different race weekend.

    1. How could he not hold up his hand? He was clearly at fault.

  4. It was Alonso’s fault.

    1. You spelled ‘Ericsson’ wrong.

  5. Good on him for holding up his hand. But I still expect 2 penalty points and a 3 or 5 place penalty next race.

  6. Apparently the stewards offered Alonso to hand out a harsher penalty to Hulkenberg but he rejected them

    1. I do hope you are kidding?

  7. An interesting side note from the damage to Alonso’s car from the wreck was seeing under the ‘skin’ of an F1 car as it was peeled back extensively. A rare peek at what lies under the colorful livery of an F1 car and its usually hidden inner structures.

    As an aside to that, this seems an interesting observation only in the light that all drivers came through unscathed from this rather spectacular crash.

  8. Hulkenberg: “It’s just incredible, to climb out again on lap one, how sensitive these cars are with aerodynamics. When you have a few cars that bunch up in front of you, how much grip and loads you lose.
    When You watch the replay, the excuse of loss of grip and load on the front wing, doesn’t apply here – Hulkenberg has a long distance up to Alonso, when Hulkenberg should have applied his brakes, but sort of missed the mark a little bit…

  9. Why is Hulkenberg also blamed for Raikonnens retirement? From the https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXg1sGWpLlQ replays of the accident, I can see that Ricciardo’s rear wing also takes damage, but the carnage where Ricciardo hits Raikonnen happens much further down the turn, some seconds later than the Hulkenberg vs Alonso vs Leclerc shunt.
    I think someone else hit Ricciardo and pushed him into Kimi – what to You think?

    1. No Daniel got a boost but those in front didn’t move fast enough causing a harmonica effect So Kimi could get away fast enough so Daniel hit him.

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