Romain Grosjean said Fernando Alonso replied to his text with words of encouragement after he was hit with a race ban for triggering a multi-car shunt at the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix.
Grosjean did not have the easiest of starts to his F1 career, debuting with Renault in 2009 but failing to keep his seat for the following campaign, describing himself as being “part of the furniture that the new owner [Genii Capital] kind of removed”.
The Frenchman was back on the grid for 2012 with the team, now rebranded as Lotus, his campaign starting strong in the competitive E20, though things derailed from there as he looked to keep up the strong performances, to the point of the huge first-lap drama in Belgium.
Fernando Alonso replied to Romain Grosjean text on Spa shunt
Grosjean was the instigator of a five-car collision at La Source at the start of the 2012 Belgian GP with Alonso one of the drivers eliminated in that chaos.
As a result, Grosjean became the first F1 driver to receive a race ban since 1994. He failed to reach his early-season standards for the remainder of the campaign upon returning, while he also incurred a ‘first-lap nutcase’ tag from Mark Webber after they collided at Suzuka that year.
Grosjean said he had messaged Alonso after the Belgian GP start chaos, telling the F1 website that Alonso had replied agreeing with him that the race ban was “too harsh” as he backed him to bounce back from this setback.
“People forgot by then I’m a rookie,” said Grosjean of his strong start to the 2012 season.
“We go to Spain, I have the fastest lap and P4, then we go to Monaco, I was very fast, but met Michael [Schumacher] at the start. Then we go to Canada, we finished second, then Valencia.
“It was almost too fast. Then from Valencia, I didn’t win. Then things went south because I tried to win so much instead of sometimes accepting that fourth, fifth, second, third was good enough. I just wanted to win. That’s why I think Spa happened.
“Spa was a mistake, I accept the penalty, but I think the penalty was far too harsh. I’m not proud of it, but it’s part of it.
“I remember texting Fernando, ‘Sorry, I’m glad you’re okay.’ His answer was: ‘The penalty is too harsh, you will bounce back.’ Then on the other hand, it was not nice to have Mark coming in, I mean, we all make mistakes and he’s done some. Yeah, that was tough.
“Then you go into that bad spiral where you have to perform, but you have so much pressure to perform and you’re not allowed to make a mistake. You’re on the radar. You get into a situation which is almost impossible to get out of. It’s just like being in a wave or washing machine and trying to get out of it. And every time you try to get out, it’s pushing you back in. And it’s just hard.”
Grosjean went on to score another seven podium finishes with Lotus, moving on to Haas in 2016 where he raced until 2020, his final F1 appearance being his miraculous escape from a terrifying fireball accident in Bahrain.