Nico Hulkenberg has been handed a 10-place grid penalty for the next race in Monza for causing the spectacular crash at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix.
Outbraking himself on the run to La Source on the race’s first lap, Hulkenberg ran into the back of Fernando Alonso at high speed, which in turn saw the McLaren launch over Charles Leclerc’s Sauber. Alonso’s car made contact with Leclerc’s Halo but all three drivers were unhurt in the incident, while the McLaren also took the rear wing off Daniel Ricciardo’s Red Bull.
The stewards investigated the incident after the race and opted to give Hulkenberg a 10-place grid penalty for the Italian Grand Prix next weekend, as well as three penalty points.
“The driver of car 27 stated that he completely misjudged the situation and freely admitted it was his mistake,” the stewards’ decision read.
“It should be noted that since 2014 the FIA has introduced the penalty points system which takes into account previous offenses by a driver and can lead to a race suspension if 12 points are accumulated within a 12-month period. This system was not in force when an incident not dissimilar to this, occurred in 2012.”
The 2012 incident relates to Romain Grosjean, who was banned for one round after causing a similar collision at the start of the race that nearly hit Alonso’s helmet.
Hulkenberg took full responsibility both before and after the penalty was handed out, telling Sky Sports he underestimated how much his car would get affected by being at the back of the field.
“I just got caught out with a couple of things there,” Hulkenberg said. “Basically just misjudged the grip level. It’s just incredible on lap one this year when you’re surrounded by a lot of cars, how much downforce you lose, especially on the front axle. You see when I get on the brakes it just instantly locks up.
“I let go, off the brakes, went on again. It looks nasty, it doesn’t look great. A misjudgment from my side… my bad, my mistake and it doesn’t look very good.”
Asked if he feels the penalty is harsh, Hulkenberg replied: “No, I don’t think so.
“Of course while I’ve cost myself I’ll accept that and move on.
“It’s different [to Grosjean]. His story there was a lot of things building up to that and in my case you can’t really say that, normally I keep my nose clean. Today unfortunately it went wrong quite badly. Nobody does this intentionally. At the end of the day we are racing, and unfortunately today for me this did happen. Luckily Monza is just three days away.”