Grosjean backs ‘let them race’ plans

Date published: April 8 2019

Romain Grosjean wants the sport to keep its current qualifying format.

Following talks in Bahrain about leaving the drivers free to race, Romain Grosjean says he supports softer penalties but urges F1 not to go as far as Formula E.

The drivers met with the FIA ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix to discuss the adoption of a “let them race” attitude towards on-track incidents.

“What we wanted to try and do was work towards some consensus on what ‘let them race’ means,” Garry Connelly, the chairman of the FIA stewards for the Bahrain race, told Motorsport.com.

“We went round the room and every driver expressed an opinion.

“One issue that was discussed was moving under braking. They all believe that that can be potentially dangerous.

“We told them we weren’t going to change anything overnight, we were there to get input.”

One driver who supports this plan is Grosjean, who has had his fair share of incidents and is currently sitting on eight penalty points.

The director of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association told Autosport: “I don’t think we want to go crazy, but I think if it’s not intentional and you go for an overtaking manoeuvre and you lock up and you touch, then it’s not the end of the world.

“If you do a ‘Grosjean at Spa 2012’ or a ‘Hulkenberg at Spa last year’ – OK, it’s not intentional, but it’s got big consequences so it’s got to be penalised. Same as [Sergio] Perez in Singapore [2018].

“But on lap one if you brake a bit late, or what I had in Austin with Charles Leclerc, I felt sorry I spun him, but his race was already dead because he had damage on the front wing and the floor, so I think the consequences were not that bad.

“[That was] a racing incident. His race was compromised, so what do we do? I think we should just say, ‘well, it’s lap one, everyone wants a position’.

“But we don’t want Formula E, because I think Formula E has gone a bit too far. But [in F1] if you touch someone your car is broken anyway.”

The Haas driver agreed that things such as moving under braking need to be policed as that can result in a massive accident.

However, he wants to have fun out on track and reckons that’s not possible if every incident comes with a hefty penalty.

“If I’m the head of the GPDA, it’s because I’m interested in the sport and I want to make it better,” he explained.

“It was really good from Garry and Michael to hear what we’ve got to say.

“Because the fact is we don’t want to go into a braking zone trying to overtake someone and thinking ‘oh, if I lock up and I touch him, that’s going to be a penalty’. We want racing.

“Shit’s going to happen over 21 races, but it always balances itself, I think, in the end. It’s good that we can go racing, and we can fight.

“Obviously there are a few things that we don’t want to see, and moving under braking is a big one, because to me that’s the biggest danger nowadays.

“If that’s really something we’re strict on, for the rest, we should be allowed to race and have fun.”

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