Haas Formula One driver Romain Grosjean had a brown-shorts moment when he ran wide heading out of Circuit of the Americas’ faster-than-anyone-thinks Turn 19, where he encountered a surprise from Lance Stroll’s Williams car in his path.
Grosjean moved to stay wide through the Turn 19 runoff area to avoid Stroll’s car in his path, but then Stroll darted out into Grosjean’s path. Grosjean was forced to off-road his Haas car in order to avoid a collision.
Grosjean’s exclamation of “What was that, mate?” sums it up. No, really: what was that? Perhaps he expected Grosjean to tuck in on his other side, but who knows?
Funnier still, Grosjean’s helmet has “I’m Not Moaning” on it for the weekend. Nah, man. This one seems like a legit complaint.
Stewards were investigating this incident as well as another incident where Kevin Magnussen was in the way of Sergio Perez’s car on one of Perez’s fast laps. Magnussen took full blame for the incident, telling Sky Sports that he was definitely impeding Perez’s lap in that situation and expected a penalty accordingly.
Stroll reported having issues with his car at the end of the session, but he won’t get the chance to drive his car more today, as he was eliminated in the first qualifying session.
Also eliminated after the first qualifying session was Toro Rosso’s Brendon Hartley, who was only 0.054 seconds out of making it into the second qualifying session in his first time in a single-seater of any kind in five years. That’s still pretty impressive.
Full Q1 results are below.
Meanwhile in the second qualifying session, Lewis Hamilton already smashed his previous lap record here from Free Practice 3 with a 1:33.560, and it’s only going to get faster from here on out.
UPDATE [7:16 p.m. ET]: Magnussen received a three-place grid penalty for impeding Perez in qualifying, as expected, per Autosport. Hilariously, although he qualified dead last, other drivers’ grid penalties mean that he’ll be moved up to 18th place for the start.
UPDATE #2 [8:57 p.m. ET]: Formula One’s stewards released the following statement on the Stroll incident after speaking with both Stroll and Grosjean, as quoted by Autosport:
The stewards examined multiple angles of video evidence, including CCTV not available on the broadcast and radio calls to car 18, and heard from Lance Stroll, the driver of car 18, Romain Grosjean, the driver of car 8 and the team representatives.
Stroll was on a slow lap, Grosjean on a fast lap. Stroll was changing settings under direction of his engineer and got a very late call about Grosjean overtaking.
Stroll immediately moved right and off the track, but Grosjean was already outside track limits and made the decision to overtake on the right, as Stroll moved right.
It was obvious Stroll was not able to see Grosjean approaching in his mirrors, and he stated he could not move to the left as [Daniil] Kvyat was passing him on that side.
The stewards believe Stroll did what he could in the circumstances but nevertheless this was potentially a very dangerous situation as the speed differential between the two cars was in excess of 100 km/h at the apex of Turn 19.
The stewards believe the team should have given Stroll more advance warning that Grosjean was approaching rapidly.
Like Magnussen, Stroll was handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Grosjean’s fast lap. Also like Magnussen, Stroll benefitted from other drivers’ grid penalties, having qualified in 17th place but getting moved up to 16th despite being penalized thanks to the several drivers who received penalties ahead of him.