Romain Grosjean believes there was little action he could take to avoid causing a multi-car crash at the start of Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix despite being hit with a grid penalty by the Formula 1 race stewards for the incident.

Grosjean lost control of his car after catching a pocket of dirty air through the long right-hander at Turn 3 on the opening lap of the race, spinning into the path of the oncoming pack.

The Haas driver collided with both Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly, forcing all three drivers to retire from the race.

F1 Driver Ratings - Spanish GP

Hulkenberg was particularly unimpressed by the incident, saying Grosjean needed to take a look in the mirror over his actions, while the F1 race stewards also hit the Frenchman with a three-place grid drop for the Monaco Grand Prix in two weeks’ time.

However, Grosjean felt there was not much he could have done to avoid hitting any of the drivers passing through.

“I don’t think there was much I could do. If I had braked, the car would have slid anyway,” Grosjean said.

“I tried to stay on the throttle to spin it and at least not face a lot of people. I didn’t think there was much in it. I think it was a human reflex.

“If you look at [Nico] Rosberg in Malaysia in 2016 and [Sebastian] Vettel did something similar before too, so if I had braked, I would have stayed in the middle, and the same thing would have happened.

“Unfortunately when the car started to go forward and onto the track, it was very difficult.”

Haas team boss Gunther Steiner was quick to criticise the stewards’ call, echoing Grosjean’s belief he had done all he could to avoid the crash.

“He tried to get out of the way, that it his explanation. He tried to get across the track to get out of it and he hit two,” Steiner said.

“He turned and he said: ‘I had a decision to make, do I stand still or do I go through?’ He went through and he knocked two out. If he had stood still maybe he would have knocked five out, we don’t know. It’s never a good position to be in, the middle of a car track, whatever you do.

“For me, it’s a start incident and whatever you do afterwards will be wrong. If you go back into the track into the middle, you try to get out of it somehow, I don’t know what would have happened if he had stayed in the middle taken five cars out. Maybe they would have liked that better?”