Grosjean: Move towards Kvyat which triggered crash was ‘aggressive’ but not ‘crazy’

2020 Sakhir Grand Prix

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Romain Grosjean has explained why he moved towards Daniil Kvyat at the start of the Bahrain Grand Prix, which triggered his shocking, fiery crash.

Grosjean’s right-rear tyre collided with Kvyat’s left-front as the Haas driver moved across from the left-hand side of the track on the first lap of the race.

The stewards did not investigate whether either driver was responsible for the collision. Kvyat said he initially felt “angry” about Grosjean’s move before realising how serious his rival’s subsequent crash was.

Grosjean said he had to move to the right to avoid a cluster of cars in front of him.

“I had a very good exit out of turn one into turn two,” said the Haas driver in response to a question from RaceFans. “There is no one on my right-hand side at that point.

“The momentum I carry out of turn three is very good. And there’s a lot of debris and sparks coming on the left-hand side of the track. So I already move a bit to the right.”

With no sign of anyone in his mirrors, and given his strong exit from the previous corner, Grosjean was unaware Kvyat was so close to him.

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“Moving to the right, I checked my mirror and there’s nothing, there is no one,” he said. “I’m catching the cars in front of me with a big delta speed. So that means that I am having the momentum, the positive momentum.

“So if there were anyone next to me, it would have been side-by-side and I would have passed him. That doesn’t happen.”

Grosjean admitted he moved “quite aggressively” to the right as he headed for the gap. “I agree that the turning right was quite strong.

“In Bahrain, there’s the racetrack and there is that painted sand colour. So even if you push someone to the right, as we’ve seen with the Mercedes and the Ferrari some years ago, the guy on the inside still has the possibility to move to the right, in the worst-case scenario, to avoid contact. So if you took all the elements, what I did is not crazy.”

The footage of the lead-up to the crash makes it clear Kvyat was in his blind spot, Grosjean said.

“I watched the out-board and you can see that Daniil is basically in my blind spot from turn two to where it happens. The whole way he’s completely in my blind spot.

“Mirrors, we know in Formula 1, are not the greatest technology. A night race makes it harder to see in the mirrors, but also in the day, any time of day, there is no way I could have seen Danny being there. So this is all the thinking that drove me to turn right.”

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
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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33 comments on “Grosjean: Move towards Kvyat which triggered crash was ‘aggressive’ but not ‘crazy’”

  1. Well, with due respect, it was near crazy in most of our definitions but perhaps ‘aggressive’ in Romain’s world. People are so relieved to see him alive today that most have forgotten to assess the fact that it was hid own doing which resulted in his mess.

    Some Aussie driver called him a ‘first lap nutcase’ in Japan 2012 and 8 years later, it still holds true.

    Cannot agree with his assessment. Does anyone think the same?

    1. @neelv27, news from 2012 (Andrew Benson):

      Romain Grosjean has been given a one-race ban for causing the first-corner crash at the Belgian Grand Prix. The 26-year-old Frenchman, who has been involved in seven first-lap crashes in 12 races this season, was also fined 50,000 euros (£40,000). The Lotus driver moved rapidly across McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton at the start of the Spa race, causing a collision. His out-of-control Lotus then hit Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari, narrowly missing the Spaniard’s head.

      I’m truly relieved Grosjean emerged safely. However I think I wrote in 2018, after he span back onto the track at the start in Spain, that he could cause serious injury to himself or someone else one day. Why? Because he’s simply reckless on occasion. Sure he might not have seen Kyvat. But as in Spain 2018 when he fought to keep the car on track, and span round onto it, rather than wait for the pack to pass, he seems to completely ignore the possibility another car was likely to be there. Sweeping aggressively from left to right at the start when cars in front are bunching and you know there are cars behind you (because you didn’t start last) is a recipe for crashing. Under most similar circumstances, he would have gone off and out of the race with a heavy collision but no explosion. Thankfully the safety mechanisms worked.

      1. @david-br I give Romain credit for making huge improvements after his race ban in 2012, and for quite long periods of time he looked like he really had found a more measured approach which allowed him to keep his nose clean. But every now and again he does something that seems crazy and reminds you of his reputation – Spain 2018 and last weekend being the two standout examples in recent years. And despite the mitigating circumstances he mentioned above, once it was clear he was not seriously injured the former racing pundits started to weigh in and most seemed to agree that you just don’t change line so dramatically on the straight, on the first lap, unless you are absolutely certain that no car can be there.

        Of course I’m glad that Romain is ok but if he is going to come back in Abu Dhabi or continue a racing career in other series I really worry that his occasional recklessness or lack of spatial awareness is going to continue to cause more accidents.

        1. @keithedin It looks to me like moments of recklessness, ignoring that inner voice saying ‘too risky’ that other drivers would listen to. FIA have always let him off relatively lightly, maybe because its almost invariably on the opening lap when these moments happen.

      2. Spain 2018 was a Flop Of The Year moment. And also, I didn’t forget that Romain was also Flop Of The Year 2012.

    2. Are you THE Neel Jani?

      *bows enthusiastically*

    3. Coventry Climax
      4th December 2020, 23:30

      I absolutely feel the same, @neelv27, and I’ve commented similarly a couple of times already.
      By his reasoning it wasn’t crazy, because he was unable to see Kvyat in his mirrors.
      As a racing driver though, you’re supposed to sense, mindmap and even know, where everybody around you is. If you are not blessed with such spatial awareness, you will have the handicap to rely on your mirrors + include the knowledge that they do not give you the complete situation.
      If you drive on the highway, look in the mirror and just turn the wheel to overtake, you’ve forgotten to look over your shoulder to eliminate a possible blind spot. If there’s another car there, that driver will honk and point at his forehead for you, for good reason. In an F1 car, there’s no way you can look over your shoulder. Any F1 driver knows all this, but still Grosjean just turned in. By my reasoning, that’s crazy. Which was actually also my very first reaction when I saw the replays: ‘What a nutcase’. But even the crazy don’t deserve to die like that, so I’m glad he survived, glad he has such comparatively minor injuries and glad he didn’t take anyone with him this time. I’d also be very glad if he retired from racing completely. Bar slotracing maybe.

  2. I’m surprised, knowing how bad visibility is when looking at the mirrors, F1 has not considered replacing mirrors for screens connected to cameras. It is already used in endurance racing, so the technology is here. It would definitely remove many of the visibility issues and the blindspots there are in current cars

    1. Agreed. And they should at least enforce a reasonable minimum mirror size and a sane position. I’m aware that shaking is another issue, but lets at least cover the basics.

      1. Fully agree. There has been a lot of talk about the contributing factors after the accident occurred, but it seems almost every accident of this nature has a comment from the drivers about how poor the mirrors are. Surely any analysis of any of these accidents also should include preventing them in the first place.
        I think in the modern years since drivers have gotten lower and lower in the cockpit the visibility out of this generation of cars is extremely poor.

    2. F1 cars will need to make a standard to install those Blind Spot Assistants, that are present in so many passengers cars today.

      So when the driver wants to make a big move like that, he will see a yellow light on their mirrors, informing about someone on the blind spot.

      1. Coventry Climax
        5th December 2020, 0:08

        Yeah, together with warning beeps for unfastened safetybelts, lane assist, rearview camera’s and park assist. Oh, and car radio’s of course, with soothing music, together with airco, for the hotheads.
        Or just take out the drivers altogether and have a computer run the cars. Much safer.
        Come on, we’re talking pinnacle of motorsports here, the world’s best drivers. It’s supposed to be a challenge, a sports, and some just aren’t as good at it as others. Grosjean should not have been there anymore for a couple of years already.

    3. Weight. Adding cameras and screens and the accompanying batteries will just make the cars even heavier. Something f1 has to be really careful with

      1. Coventry Climax
        4th December 2020, 23:59

        That’s a rather silly argument, given the massive increase in weight over the past couple of years and, more importantly, the safety issue it’s supposed to deal with.

  3. I am relieved and happy he escaped almost unscathed from such an inferno, but honestly I am sick and tired of his unresponsible actions.
    There was a short moment in which he seemed to have learned where the thin line between “being aggressive” and “being 1diotic” stands, but he lost it again very soon.
    Definitely too dangerous to drive in F1.
    Enjoy your life, Romain, you will not be missed.

    1. Don’t forget that he was Flop Of The Year in 2018.

  4. I mean if I was a driver in a race and i saw a very wide space beside me after just the 3rd of a not so fast corner, I would be very worried something had gone wrong.
    If you are side by side with a driver one moment and you don’t see that driver in your mirrors the next corner the fail safe mode would be to assume they are in your blind spot and drive accordingly.

  5. Once again, the biggest problem for this crash is the mirrors. Sure the barrier safety, marshal training, etc. is going to be really important to work on but I really hope the inadequacy of the mirrors does not get forgotten about.
    They NEED (yes that is capital letters right there) to be better next season.

    1. YEah, we read that time and again, “you cannot really see anything in the mirrors” and “I didn’t see them”. They really should adress this and put some decent mirrors on that actually DO allow a driver to see another driver behind.

      1. Coventry Climax
        4th December 2020, 23:46

        For an F1 driver (the world’s best, remember?) “I didn’t see him” may sound nice, but it’s not, never, ever a valid argument.

  6. That was an unnecessary move tbh.

  7. I hope this can lead to a change to the useless wing mirrors, maybe rear 180 view camera and bring the road relevance back to wing mirror design.

  8. Everybody is saying how bad the mirrors are yet, how many quotes have we seen from drivers in the past week saying I saw the coach in my mirrors and I knew it ws bad or words to that effect. Surely you can’t have it both ways. I am sure that mirrors on an F1 car are not great when compared to a road car but I do doubt that are as bad as made out. The drivers do seem to use them as a handy excuse at times.

    1. *crash not coach

    2. Well, seeing an explosion of fire light up your mirrors is quite a bit different than actually seeing a car without lights.

  9. Grosjean is as good as implying that Kyvat should have moved across, off the track, as he came sweeping across.

    the guy on the inside still has the possibility to move to the right, in the worst-case scenario, to avoid contact.

    I’d say he’s not accepting this was his own fault, most definitely a “crazy” move.

  10. Sorry mate, didn’t see you

  11. People who still hate Romain: Is his humble personality a joke to you?

    1. Speaking for myself, I like him and think he has a tendency towards recklessness sometimes. They’re not mutually exclusive.

  12. I’ve been reframing from making harsh about it.. Nothing funny about his crash.

    But Grosjean is the driver that inspired the penalty point system. I’m glad he escaped from the massive crash that he caused.

    I hope, but have no confidence, that F1 will learn from this and crack down on some of the more aggressive driving. I think about Leclerc’s move on Hamilton at Monza 2 years ago. Aggressive moves at high speed can have dire consequences.

    If F1 is going to keep the penalty system, and I don’t think they should, then they should at least use it the right way and penalized dangerous moves. whether they’re in between teammates, or whether the driver who made the move is the one who crashed.

    1. Allan Anderson
      5th December 2020, 0:19

      Surely I’m not the only person that saw something fall off the front of RG’s car immediately prior to him veering off in fron t Kvyat?

  13. It was an utterly unnecessary move (in a long line of utterly unnecessary moves by him at the starts) that almost costs him his head. I’m time and again amazed why they keep him on the grid, surely enough is enough.

  14. liam cockcroft
    13th December 2020, 0:14

    Almost everything he said there was a lie. It was a dirty, clumsy and dangerous nerf on Kyvat and he should be banned from wheel to wheel racing for life for it.

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