Lotus driver Romain Grosjean has insisted he didn't deliberately squeeze Lewis Hamilton at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix.
The contact with Hamilton triggered a four-car pile-up with Grosjean, Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sergio Perez all eliminated at the very first corner. Grosjean was subsequently judged to be responsible for the carnage and the stewards have given him a one-race ban, which will force him to sit out next weekend's Italian Grand Prix [see separate story -CLICK HERE
Despite admitting he will be sad to miss the racing at Monza, the Frenchman added though that he respects the ruling of the stewards. Grosjean has also apologised to his fellow competitors.
“When your life is all about racing, not being allowed to attend an event is probably one of the worst experiences you can go through. That said, I do respect the verdict of the Stewards,” he confirmed.
“I got a good start - despite being disturbed by Pastor [Maldonado]'s early launch, which I think was the case for everybody at the front - and was heading into the first corner when the rear of my car made contact with the front of Lewis [Hamilton]'s. 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.
“This first corner situation obviously isn't what anyone would want to happen and thankfully no-one was hurt in the incident.
“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.”
Lotus meanwhile has confirmed that it will not challenge the stewards ruling and that it will communicate the name of Grosjean's replacement 'as soon as possible'.
“It's been a tough day for the team but we fully respect the Stewards' decision,” added Lotus team principal, Eric Boullier. “Romain won't be driving at Monza but he still has our full support.”