During the first lap of a rain affected Japanese GP, Carlos Sainz aquaplaned off the circuit into the barrier at turn 12. As Pierre Gasley flashed past in the spray a stray piece of advertising hoarding flew in front of the Alpha Tauri requiring Gasly to pit for a new nose cone.
The safety car was deployed before the leaders completed the first lap ad picked up the driver train. However, Pierre Gasly dived into the pits for tyres and a nose cone he then set off in pursuit of the safety car train.
The safety car and the train of F1 cars had passed through turn 12 where video shows a tractor beginning to recover Sainz stricken Ferrari. Yet Gasly approached the sector at a much higher speed and was apparently surprised by the tractor on circuit.
F1 stewards say Gasly admits driving too fast
While the red flag saw the cars sit in the pits, the stewards declared Gasly was under investigation for speeding under a red flag at speeds between 200-250 kph.
The result of that investigation saw the FIA post their decision as most of the TV broadcasters had concluded their presentations.
“The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 10 (Pierre Gasly) and team representative and reviewed video and telemetry evidence.”
“After passing the scene of the incident, [Gasly] continued under the red flag situation, at speeds which exceeded 200 km/h on multiple occasions, and which reached 251 km/h at one point.
“The driver conceded that he now understood that there could have been marshals or obstacles on the track, and admitted that he was too fast.
“However, in mitigation of penalty, we take into account that although the speed could not by any measure be regarded as “slow” as required in the regulations, it was slower that the maximum speed that could be achieved under these conditions.
“We also take into account the shock the driver experienced on seeing a truck on the racing line in the corner of the incident.”
Gasly deflects responsibility
Pierre Gasly was penalised for “speeding under red flag conditions a breach of article 57.2 of the FIA sporting regulations. The stewards decision is a drive through penalty imposed after the end of the race. 20 seconds will be added to the race time and 2 penalty points. Total of 9 for the 12 month period.”
Pierre Gasly spoke with emotion about how he felt the memory of Jules Bianchi had been disrespected following the replication of the conditions of Bianchi’s crash which ultimately led to his death.
Gasly claimed it was unfair he had been called to the stewards because, “I was respecting my delta lap time.”
“We got a lap time to respect on the steering [wheel] and I was still nine seconds slower than that delta. So this is not fair. It’s not fair. Because I was doing everything correctly.”
FIA safety car rules need revising
When the safety car is deployed the drivers’ have a speed/time limit they must remain with when catching the safety car. However, having made a pit stop, Gasly had banked a load of credit which meant to meet the maximum time he could play catch up at high speed for the first part of the lap.
He was still subject to the rules of double yellow waved flags when approaching the sector where the Ferrari was being recovered.
That said, Gasly insisted, “That crane should have not been there. I would have been dead right now if I would have crashed into the crane,” he said.
“I don’t think that any tractors will be on the racetrack. They’re probably gonna say I’m wrong and probably it’s gonna be all my mistake. I don’t know. What I care about is my colleagues – all of us – and that, in the future, we don’t face this sort of situation.
“Because today, if I had aquaplaned like Carlos did the lap before, I would not be standing here. There will be another one after Jules. This was already extremely painful and disrespectful towards him and all his family.”
"The lowest point we've seen in the sport in years"
Sergio Perez gives his view on the recovery tractor coming onto the track during the Japanese Grand Prix. pic.twitter.com/wWjHvnr5xO
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) October 9, 2022
Time for F1 to adopt WEC style ‘slow zones’
TJ13 has long proposed ‘slow zones’ even when the safety car is deployed. For exactly the reason Gasly was allowed to travel the circuit at almost 86% top speed, the slow zones would force the F1 cars to drive past an incident where marshals are on track at the pit lane speed limit, or even slower.
The FIA have announced there will be an investigation into all the events at Suzuka today and Sebastian Vettel provides below a more measured list of matters that should be considered.
"Today, we were just lucky"
Sebastian Vettel says Formula 1 need to learn from the incident today involving the recovery tractor coming onto the track. pic.twitter.com/rWi5Rjhe9p
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) October 9, 2022