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GP Week : Issue 165
32 GPWEEK.com // F1 >>> SPA 32 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: Former team-mate Romain Grosjean dealt a considerable blow to Fernando Alonso’s world championship hopes in Belgium on Sunday after triggering a first-corner pile-up that collected the Spaniard, leaving him with his first retirement in 24 races. Alonso remained relatively upbeat despite failing to score, thanks in part to rival Lewis Hamilton’s retirement. Grosjean was running side-by-side with Lewis Hamilton on the right hand side of the track on the run-down to turn 1 when he jinked into the Briton’s path without warning. The collision sent Grosjean flying into the pack ahead as they negotiated the first corner, before glancing over the top of Alonso’s cockpit. Alonso’s complaint of a sore shoulder was the only ailment reported by the drivers involved. A post-race investigation into the crash found Grosjean guilty of an “extremely serious” regulations breach, and controversially banned the Frenchman for a race and fined him €50,000. Grosjean explained after wards that he thought he had cleared Hamilton before turning to the right. “I got a good start and was heading into the first corner when the rear of my car made contact with the front of Lewis [Hamilton]’s,” began Grosjean. “I honestly thought I was ahead of him and there was enough room for both cars ; I didn’t deliberately try to squeeze him or anything like that. “I wish to apologise to the drivers who were involved and to their fans. I can only say that today is part of a process that will make me a better driver.” Given the pace of Jenson Button’s McLaren during the race, Alonso drew on the positive of Hamilton’s retirement, although Vettel’s second place reduces his championship lead to 24 points ahead of Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix. “I’m fine, except my left shoulder hurts a bit. I had no idea what happened: I had overtaken the two Saubers when I felt as though I had been run into by a train!” began Alonso. “What happened is a shame, because I think a podium was indeed within my reach, especially when you see what Felipe demonstrated on track. “Today we paid a high price through bad luck and luck owes us now: let’s see what happens in the rest of the season. We lost a bit of the advantage we had over Vettel, Webber and Raikkonen, but we have lost nothing to Hamilton who, given how the McLaren went, is possibly our most dangerous rival.” ALONSO LOSES CHAMPIONSHIP GROUND IN GROSJEAN PILE-UP Grosjean accepts blame after turning in on Hamilton