The Spanish Grand Prix was rocked by a bizarre crash that wiped out three divers on the very first lap.
French driver Romain Grosjean was the culprit, and will have a three-place grid penalty for the Monaco Grand Prix in two weeks time.
Race stewards also handed the Haas driver two penalty points.
Grosjean took out Renault’s Nico Hulkenberg and Toro Rosso’s Pierre Gasly when he spun his car across the track in a cloud of smoke at turn three on the opening lap.
“He spun and it’s very unusual to see a car light up its rear wheels like that on the first lap of a race, when there’s another 10 cars to come,” race director Charlie Whiting told reporters.
Grosjean, who started 10th, told stewards he feared his momentum was going to take him to the center of the track so he applied power to try and cross over to the right side and get out of the way of others.
“There’s not much to say. I lost the rear end in turn three and I just spun. If you look at the footage, I had wanted to avoid contact with my teammate,” said the Frenchman.
“Kevin (Magnussen) had a bit of a wobble, I lifted off the throttle, and then the car just went. I’m sorry for the others that were involved — there wasn’t much I could do once the car went.”
Haas team principal Guenther Steiner described the grid penalty imposed on Grosjean as “kicking the guy in the face when he’s on his knees”.
“That’s kicking the guy in the face when he’s on his knees,” said the Haas boss.
“He tried to get out of the way, that is his explanation. He tried to get across the track to get out of it and he hit two. He was 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.
“Yes, it doesn’t look good when you accelerate when are in the middle of the track, but it’s a millisecond decision that you need to make and he made the decision to run across.
“I feel sorry for them that they were taken out but he didn’t try an overtaking manoeuvre to take them out or understeer into anything. At the moment his reputation is not the highest one to do things he shouldn’t be doing so maybe he’s an easy target.”
A disconsolate Grosjean defended his actions after his race was over soon after it started.
“I lost the rear end of the car and I tried to put it back as long as I could but it just didn’t work,” he told Sky F1.
“I don’t think there was much I could do. If I had braked, the car would have slid the same way. I tried to stay on the throttle to spin it to try not and face other people. It didn’t work but I don’t think there was anything different [he could have done].
“It’s a human reflex if you look at Rosberg in 2016 and Schumacher in 2010. If I had braked I would have stayed in the middle [of the track] and it would have been the same thing. Unfortunately once the car started going forwards again onto the track, it was very difficult.”