Nico Hulkenberg, Renault, Spa-Francorchamps, 2018

Hulkenberg given 10-place grid penalty for Italian GP after causing crash

2018 Belgian Grand Prix

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Nico Hulkenberg has been given a 10-place grid penalty for the next race at Monza for causing a multi-car crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix.

The stewards ruled: “The driver of car 27 stated that he completely misjudged the situation and freely admitted it was his mistake.”

Hulkeneberg said he “probably misjudged a bit on my side” where to brake for the first corner at the start. “Was also given three penalty points on his licence for the collision, giving him a total of four for the current 12-month period.

The crash led to the retirement of four other drivers. It prompted comparisons with a similar multi-car collision triggered by Romain Grosjean in 2012, which led to a one-race ban for the driver.

The stewards acknowledged this in their ruling: “It should be noted that since 2014 the FIA has introduced the penalty points system which takes into account previous offences by a driver and can lead to a race suspension if 12 points are accumulated within a 12 month period. This system was not in force when an incident not dissimilar to this, occurred in 2012.”

FIA race director Charlie Whiting, who has the power to refer matters to the stewards but does not take the decisions, said Hulkenberg accepted responsibility for the crash.

“It was clearly Nico’s fault,” said Whiting. “He admitted completely, he said he was completely to blame for it. And he took three, arguably four cars out, or destroyed their races. I think that obviously came into it.

“I think the points are exactly right and I think that the 10 grid place penalty is pretty much what he expected. He didn’t say too much after it.”

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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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48 comments on “Hulkenberg given 10-place grid penalty for Italian GP after causing crash”

  1. I think 3-4 penalty points should also be handed out, as it really was a very clumsy accident.

    1. The article states that he also received 3 penalty points.

      1. @schooner Completely missed that.

    2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      27th August 2018, 0:01

      @mashiat not sure a penalty was required – seemed like a racing incident more than anything to me.

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        27th August 2018, 4:14

        Definitely NOT a penalty – I watched it again 20-30 times. Hulkenberg’s next to Stroll. If he had misjudged the braking point, he would have shot past him but he didn’t pass Stroll. He’s already locked tyres as he barely passes Stroll so he’s braking at the same time if not before Stroll… He didn’t shoot by Stroll by 2-3 car lengths and then braked.

        Terrible, terrible, terrible decision by the stewards who were obviously affected by Alonso’s comments who blamed Hulkenberg.

        Neither Alonso, nor Leclerc deserved to be taken out but neither did Hulk deserve to be taken out – his wheels locked, he actually tried to go off the course to avoid a collision.

        To give him a penalty for something that is totally not his fault – terrible decision… Renault should appeal that and show Stroll’s vehicle next to Hulkenberg’s.

        He was actually driving extremely carefully, staying on the outside to avoid everyone and when he tried to brake, his wheels locked and he was just a passenger. There wasn’t even a hint of ambitious or careless driving as we see in other Turn 1 incidents.

        If there’s a turn 1 incident that was completely a racing incident in the history of F1, this was the one… You can do everything you can to avoid contact and it still happens…

        1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
          27th August 2018, 8:28

          I think you have missed something though. Hulkenberg had Alonso significantly closer in front of him than Stroll had anyone in front of him. So he should have beaked sooner than Stroll. If he had braked at the right point, he wouldn’t have locked up. As he left it too late and had too much speed, due to being so close to Alonso, it will have been the lack of downforce that triggered the lock up, and he’s to blame for driving so close without breaking earlier. He very quickly accepted responsibility so there is no point defending him if he blames himself and the stewards agree and give him the biggest penalty any driver has had for possibly several years.

          1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
            27th August 2018, 11:19

            As far as I know Hulkenberg hasn’t admitted that – he simply said that maybe he could braked earlier as any sensible driver would have said. The press are claiming that he admitted it.

            I don’t think there was anyway for Hulkenberg to anticipate Alonso’s sudden deceleration after Leclerc swerved in front of him. You are suggesting that Hulkenberg should have braked in anticipation of an event where Alonso does an emergency brake as another car appears in front of him and taken downforce into account all while maintaining his position. If the same thing happens on the street, it would usually turn into an accident especially if both drivers Alonso and Hulkenberg were racing.

            It’s a clearcut racing incident.

  2. Interesting penalty. Probably the correct call by the stewards in the circumstances – the Hulk is unlikely the re-offend …

    Does anyone know if the stewards looked into Bottas running into the back of the Williams?

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      26th August 2018, 17:31

      I haven’t head about that no. But it was nothing like as severe as the other. He caused damage to himself and didn’t really do any harm to the Williams from what I recall. Probably would be a racing incident as they haven’t yet done anything.

    2. Bottas got 5 sec time penalty for that bum ‘kiss’.

    3. On channel 4 post race coverage they said Bottas just hurried past them and had been called to the stewards. I agree it was a relatively minor incident though and drivers have got away with worse at the first corner before so I doubt there will be any more than another reprimand.

  3. Also back then they pointed out one of the reasons for the ban was that “the crash took out major contenders to the world championships” which wasn’t the case today!

    1. Indeed, gotta be careful who you crash into. Crash into Alonso in 2012 is a big nono, crash into Alonso in 2018 and it’s more like “meh, he probably wouldn’t have scored points anyway”.

      1. Yes, terrible, terrible mclaren; alonso could’ve squeezed a point or two out but would’ve been hard, and furthermore it’d have required raikkonen and ricciardo to be out and I don’t see how that’d happen without alonso hitting ricciardo.

  4. Seems about right. Will probably be starting from last due to the Renault engine at Monza, and there being Haas / Sauber / Force India likely ahead of them, so eh.
    I always find it amusing how the reports say ‘the driver of car __’ rather than their name.

    1. Michael Brown (@)
      27th August 2018, 5:43

      @hugh11 Especially considering that they have driver numbers now rather than numbers allocated to cars like they did before 2014.

  5. Justified.

  6. Seems a bit excessive. Didn’t Grosjean get a lesser penalty for Spain 2018?

    1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
      26th August 2018, 17:32

      he didn’t cause 5 drivers to retire.

    2. Seems a bit excessive. Didn’t Grosjean get a lesser penalty for Spain 2018?

      Seems a bit lax. Didn’t Grosjean get a harsher penalty for Spa 2012?

      1. Grosjean got one in the regime of inconsistent penalties and no penalty points. Just because the stewarding was poor then doesn’t mean that for consistency’s sake, we stick with it for perpetuity.
        Hence, my question about Grosjean at Spain 2018 as that is a relevant comparison from the stewarding attitude perspective.

    3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      27th August 2018, 0:05

      If Hulk knew that Leclerc was going to jump in front of Alonso, he would have slowed down and avoided the collision. He wasn’t trying to get to P1 from P17. He stayed on the outside and simply couldn’t account for the sudden deceleration of Alonso, mostly caused by Leclerc jumping in front of him.

      Bottas also ran into the car in front of him so 2 experienced drivers running into cars in front of them is most likely the result of a racing incident, not bad driving on behalf of those drivers.

  7. Wow. I was indeed expecting a grid-penalty for him for Monza, but definitely not 10 places, but rather the 3-place one, which has been the tendency in the recent past.

    1. I mean, considering it caused 4 other retirements…

  8. Jelle van der Meer (@)
    26th August 2018, 17:45

    So if your engine blows during the race (already painful) you get minimal 10 place grid penalty if not much more.

    Absolutely screw up braking for turn 1, destroy the race of 4 competitors and your own and you get also 10 place grid penalty.

    F1 is absolutely ridiculous with engine penalties and even more insane that Nico only gets 10 places.

    They should introduce point penalties on top of grid penalties – 5 points for each competitors race you ruined.

    For engine penalties the max grid penalty should be 5 places unless if engine/parts caused a race ending failure (FIA to determine) then no grid penalty. On top comes 10 points deducted from constructor championship points per set of parts per car.

    1. I don’t understand why you are complaining, he will start last anyway in Monza. No way he will get into Q3 with a Renault

    2. If you want to do that you need to apply a percentage of points, 2 points are probably irrelevant for verstappen but are huge for hartley.

      And indeed, hulk will start last.

  9. The article does not states, but Hulck will also receive a vanilla ice cream.

  10. I wonder if this could change the mind of Abiteboul to perhaps try the C-spec engine.


  12. Unpopular opinion: This was much, much worse than what Grosjean did in 2012.
    But I agree with the penalty this time.

    1. Unpopular opinion: what Grosjean did in Spain 2018 was much worse than this.

      1. Michael Brown (@)
        27th August 2018, 5:46

        @casjo At least in Spa 2012 he had the sense to use the brakes. In Spain he kept going on the throttle because maybe he could save it.

    2. Absolutely agree. Grosjean made a clumsy mistake that turned out costly.

      Hulk just turned his brain off.

    3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      26th August 2018, 23:58

      Not sure I agree here – too many variables and a similar situation with Bottas exonerate Hulk. Check out my post below.

  13. “Hulk” went full Hulk

  14. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    26th August 2018, 23:57

    It’s a tough one really to call.

    Would it have happened if Leclerc had not gotten in front of Alonso who obviously had much better visibility than Hulkenberg and was able to slow down the car. Once Hulk realized that Alonso was sandwiched behind Leclerc and all speed and room were gone, he slammed the brakes but it was too late as his car couldn’t decelerate quickly enough for Leclerc and Alonso.

    It was Leclerc who set the collision in motion, not Hulkenberg.

    It’s important to note that Bottas also had the same issue but was able to avoid a full collision so 2 very experienced drivers collided with the pack. it seems to me that the pack was going way too slow into the corner and braking earlier than expected and, of course, the drivers behind had less time to react.

  15. Honestly, I think it’s harsh.
    They say it’s the conduct, not the outcome. Well, Bottas mistook the braking point just like him: 5 secs.
    As one of the guys at C4 pointed out, Nico started braking at about the same time as a Williams at his side.
    And idk, but Fernando seemed slower than usual for that turn, not that it takes away the responsibility of Hulk for the crash.
    I’d add more points at his license, maybe 3 places penalty, tops. But 10 places is harsh.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      27th August 2018, 2:11

      @niefer I think Leclerc jumped in front of Alonso – that’s what caused him to go slow. However, they must have been going more slowly than expected because Bottas was also caught by surprise.

      I agree 10 places is harsh.

      1. @freelittlebirds Yeah, maybe. It would be nice to see Fernando’s perspective at the cockpit. Don’t recall seeing it at the broadcast.

        1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          27th August 2018, 4:31

          @niefer I think it’s a terrible decision by the stewards – you’re absolutely 100% right about the Williams. I forgot you had mentioned but I just watched it a few dozen times from all the angles and Stroll is next to Hulkenberg and only passes Stroll after he locks up so Hulkenberg didn’t brake late. He probably braked before Stroll which is what you and the other person pointed out. Hulk even tried to go off course to avoid the accident but the car doesn’t respond.

          Actually Hulkenberg was the safest driver along with Alonso – they didn’t weave or try to pass anyone. They drove straight without any attempt to brake late. It’s a shame they are both out but the penalty is not correct here.

          If Alonso watches the replay, he should be apologizing to Hulk because he blamed him and probably is the reason Hulk got the 10 spot penalty. After all, he’s big on apologies especially when people insult him:-)

          1. @freelittlebirds Yes, he went conservative and tried to get out but couldn’t. Hulkenberg is one of the safest on the grid. As a matter of fact, he is fairer than Alonso on track.

            Fernando’s declarations post-crash were harsh as well, knowing the racecraft of Nico. Unfortunately I don’t think we’ll see any amendment. At Baku he said the same things when Sirotkin got squeezed into him by a Renaut. He’s doing that everytime, he’s fed up.

            @hugh11 The whole incident seemed unclear to me, taking those things at consideration. I believe it happened the same that happened to Ricciardo at Baku.

    2. Yeah, to be fair, I noticed that Hulk staryed braking at around 125m, which is usually well early enough, but because there were so many cars directly in front of him, it ended up being too late. But he still could’ve maybe read the situation directly ahead of him better. I dunno.

  16. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
    27th August 2018, 13:50

    I don’t like the comments by people that think they have all the evidence possible. The stewards have more access to things as well as the data. If they believe Hulkenberg was in the wrong and they give out a penalty this big, it is more that clear that Hulkenberg did something very wrong, no matter what you think yourself. They have more evidence than we will ever see. Hulkenberg didn’t even seem to argue after he was given the penalty given the words he used on thannel 4. If it was far too harsh, he will have shown his frustration. But he seemed to totally accept it.
    Hulkenberg may not have braked any later than others, but he should have known that he had many cars infront of him, therefore should have breaked sooner. Especially since knowing that you loose downforce when driving close behind the car in front if you are close. For the situation Hulknberg was in, he should have known to break that bit sooner. Bottas’s situation was different. He was far closer to the corner before the contact. Not with a long string of cars infront of him. And the damage he caused was minimal compared to Hulkenberg. Both penalties were fair. If anythng Bottas’s was possibly a little harsh as it was no worse than what Vettel got for spinning Bottas and affecting his race. Bottas bumped into a Williams but only really caused a bit of damage to himself. quite a big difference.

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      27th August 2018, 15:49

      @thegianthogweed they do have more data. unfortunately in F1 the stewards’ decisions shouldn’t only be questioned but most of the time their decisions are themselves questionable. The should probably present the information to the public and the teams when they make such harsh decisions so that they are aware of what to expect.

      The stewards seem to be very susceptible to “driver” bias.

      Yes, the obvious solution was for Hulkenberg to brake earlier in retrospect – he himself said that but that’s a no brainer. He wasn’t aggressive or anything like that. In retrospect, Leclerc would not and probably should not have jumped in front of Alonso either had he known he’d be part of a sandwich but he’s a rookie and will learn to minimize his maneuvers just like Alonso and Hulkenberg did on Lap 1 when caught in traffic. Once he moved in front of another car, he should have expected that not everyone will be able to avoid contact with him. It’s a race after all. If he did that in regular traffic with 2 cars coming up at high speed, he would put his car and every behind him at risk of a collision. Same at Spa.

      Hulkenberg braked and it was OK for him to miss the braking point by a few meters especially since the braking point jumped 20 meters back in his case. That’s a racing incident.

      In retrospect, we should have all bought Amazon and Apple stock but who in F1 is 100% invested in those?

  17. I don’t like the comments by people that think they have all the evidence possible.

    What I do have is a different point of view, and that’s enough for me to comment whatever I please.

    Bottas’s situation was different. He was far closer to the corner before the contact. Not with a long string of cars infront of him. And the damage he caused was minimal compared to Hulkenberg.

    And here you do the very same thing.

    Not only Bottas was closer to the corner, but was closer to the car ahead when he started braking. If anything, Bottas’ mistake was worse than Hulkerberg’s. He should’ve braked way sooner than Nico, just because he was on the inside.

    As for the rest, Hulk didn’t argue because that’s the way he is. I’d expect nothing different from a guy who chose a sugar-coated insult instead of landing a properly blow at Magnussen for the Balls incident.

    About Vettel, as I recall, he had nowhere to go, he simply got stuck and boxed by the Mercs, and lost the grip because of that. At Spa, Bottas wasn’t stuck. Vettel got a bigger penalty.

    Bottas’ penalty was fair. Hulkenberg’s (who indeed deserved a penalty) wasn’t.

    As you can see, the real problem here is solely the inconsistency and the fact that they lie about not taking the outcome in regard.

    You can do that, I can do that, but they can’t.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        27th August 2018, 16:56

        I am fine with people having opinions. It is when comments look like they are stating pure facts that may not be true rather than opinions. I think the words “I think that it is wrong” or something similar comes accross better that just saying implying it was totally incrrect. We have less evidence than the stewards so we just don’t have the same amount of stuff to base our conclusions on. That is why i quite sometimes dislike the wording in some of the comments. If a penalty this big has been given out and there isn’t a clear reason to some people, there will likely be something that the stewards are not telling us behind their reasoning. they don’t have to tell us everything. We were notinvolved. People saying they disagree with the penalty with an explanation of their opinion, i’m fine with that even if i don’t agree.

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