Romain Grosjean tells F1i he thought Mark Webber was going to punch him after he had punted the Australian out of the 2012 Japanese Grand Prix, calling the incident the “biggest mistake” in his F1 career.
Having made his debut with Renault in 2009, Grosjean had to wait until 2012 to be given a second chance in the sport. Though the Frenchman’s raw speed never was in doubt, he remained very much a diamond in a rough at that time.
Grosjean’s impetuosity made him go through a difficult period after that year’s summer break when he caused a monster crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix.
The 2011 GP2 Series champion was given a one-race ban but soon found himself embroiled in another first-lap controversy, this time at Suzuka. Lining up fifth on the grid, Grosjean tapped Webber into spin through the opening Esses (see picture above).
Speaking to F1i’s Chris Medland in an exclusive interview, the new Haas F1 Team driver was asked to reflect on his lowest moments at Lotus.
“Spa 2012 was one but the hardest one was Japan 2012,” he replied. “To me that was my biggest mistake, the one that really hit me big time.”
Webber was clearly unimpressed with Grosjean in the immediate aftermath of the clash, branding him a “first-lap nutcase”. The Frenchman remembers him storming inside the Lotus area, and says he expected the Red Bull driver to come to blows with him.
“Ask the girls, because he came in the hospitality and he was shouting and closed the door really hard and made a lot of noise and the girls were quite scared. Everyone thought he was going to punch me - I was the first one to think that - but he didn’t! It was a tough one.
“The worst bit was coming on to the grid at the next race, coming on to the grid when you’ve been treated the way I was and what I was called - and it was quite justified - was hard. It took a lot of courage to make it but I made it through and it made me stronger.”
Use the red tabs on either side of the screen to scroll through more Formula One news and features