Webber slams 'first-lap nutcase' Grosjean

By Alan Baldwin, Reuters

Posted at Oct 08 2012 03:16 PM | Updated as of Oct 08 2012 11:16 PM

SUZUKA, Japan - Angry Australian Mark Webber branded Romain Grosjean a "first-lap nutcase" on Sunday following a Japanese Grand Prix collision that wrecked the Red Bull driver's hopes of a podium finish.

Webber lined up on the front row of the grid alongside team mate and eventual winner Sebastian Vettel on pole position but a collision with Grosjean's Lotus in the opening seconds sent the Australian to the back of the field from where he fought back to ninth.

"I haven't seen what happened at the start but the guys confirmed it was the first-lap nutcase again," Webber said of the Frenchman.

"The rest of us are trying to fight for some decent results each weekend but he's trying to get to the third corner as fast as he can at every race.

"It makes it frustrating because a few big guys obviously suffered from that today. Maybe he needs another holiday," he told broadcast reporters in the Suzuka paddock.

Grosjean missed last month's Italian Formula One Grand Prix after being banned for causing a first corner pile-up at the previous race in Belgium.

That accident sent his car flying over championship leader Fernando Alonso's Ferrari in a smash that ended the Spaniard's race.

Alonso retired from Sunday's race at Suzuka after contact with the Lotus of Grosjean's team mate Kimi Raikkonen slashed a tyre and sent the Ferrari spinning onto the gravel.

Webber is now 60 points behind Alonso with five races remaining.

"He needs to have a look at himself," continued Webber of Grosjean, who is in his first full season with Lotus.

"It was completely his fault. How many mistakes can you make, how many times can you make the same error with first lap incidents? It's quite embarrassing at this level for him."


Grosjean said he had apologised to Webber for what he agreed had been a stupid mistake.

"Ever since I came back in Singapore my priority has been to be very cautious at the start," explained the Frenchman. "We'll sit down and look at things again before the next race to see what we can do to improve these situations."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner sympathised with his driver and said it was "completely unacceptable" for Grosjean to be having so many incidents.

"It just looked like Grosjean completely misjudged where Mark was," he told reporters.

"I think it's the seventh incident that he's had this year and I think he needs to really talk to himself or his team need to talk to him because ... not only is it dangerous for others but he's cost himself and his team a colossal amount of points together with the innocent victims that he's collected en route.

"The most worrying thing is he doesn't appear to be learning from his mistakes," said the team boss.

Grosjean, who had started on the row behind Webber, was handed a 10 second stop/go penalty for causing the collision.

Lotus team principal Eric Boullier said it was noticeable in Singapore that other drivers were putting pressure on Grosjean at the start.

"I think he has made some progress, but it's unfortunate that this has happened again in these circumstances," he added. (Editing by Peter Rutherford)