There is going to be a huge debate in Formula One over the start of the 2022 Japanese GP. The race began with a standing start which inevitably sees the teams decide not to use to full wet tyre. Christian Horner commented the pace differential between the full wet and the intermediate is too great which is why drivers will always elect to start with an intermediate tyre unless forced to use the full wet for a safety car start.
Carlos Sainz crashed at turn 12 on lap 1 which prompted a safety car. During the Sainz incident Pierre Gasly picked up damage from an advertising hoarding that came loose and hit his Alpha Tauri.
He then pitted for a new nose cone and full wet tyres then set out to chase the safety car train.
Race Control then threw the red flag before Gasly arrived on the scene of Carlos stricken Ferrari which was being recovered by a tractor and Marshals.
Replays show Gasly in his chase to catch the safety car was travelling at a much higher speed than the rest of the drivers when he passed the tractor.
Of course this prompted visions of 2014 when Jules Bianchi crashed in wet conditions into a tractor and ultimately lost his life.
There has now been much discussion about whether the tractor should have been on the track at all, yet in Monza we saw a tractor recovering Daniel Ricciardo’s car under safety car procedure.
Lando Norris tweeted:
Wtf. How’s this happened!? We lost a life in this situation years ago. We risk our lives, especially in conditions like this. We wanna race. But this… Unacceptable.
— Lando Norris (@LandoNorris) October 9, 2022
However, the stewards have summoned Gasly to report to them at 6pm local time for an “Alleged breach of Article 57.2 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations – Speeding under Red Flag Conditions.”
“Car 10 reached speeds of up to 250 km/h when completing the lap under the red flag after passing the scene of the incident,” the bulletin adds.
Despite the safety car being thrown double waved yellow flags are shown for the sector of the circuit where marshals and the tractor are recovering the stricken car.
Double waved yellow flags mean drivers should “slow down, be prepared to take avoiding action and stop”.
Clearly it is common practice for cars who have not caught the safety car to drive more quickly to catch the train, yet through the sector where a recovery is taking place double yellow flags are in place.
The FIA has for years failed to properly police double waved yellow flags as the drivers pass at high speed through the sector where danger is extreme.
During the red flag delay, Pierre Gasly went to see the race director Eduardo Freitas questioning why Sainz cars was being recovered before the red flag.
FIA regulation Article 15.6 of the sporting regulations states the race director “must be in radio contact with the clerk of the course and the chairman of the stewards at all times when cars are permitted to run on the track.
“Additionally, the clerk of the course must be in race control and in radio contact with all marshal’s posts during these times.”
Under the instruction of the race director the clerk of the course will issue instructions to the marshals to enter the track and recover the car.
Of course in Japan, the marshals and recovery crews may not speak English so the clear of the course must communicate with the race director in English and then to the marshals in their home language.
It is unclear at this time whether there was a miscommunication between the race director and the clerk of the course, or whether the race director did indeed instruct the recovery of the Ferrari to begin.
At present the FIA appear to be doubling down and placing the blame on Gasly for travelling too quickly when passing the safety car.
However debates must now be had whether slow zones are introduced into Formula One that exists in WEC. This would mean the cars travel at pit lane speeds when passing an incident if they have not yet caught the safety car.
READ MORE: Race Director gets F1 start wrong again?
Sainz’s shunt. And those hoardings. #F1 pic.twitter.com/bBvAq4U1uJ 🎥 @supra90_46
— Mark Gallagher (@_markgallagher) October 9, 2022
Once again a driver has cheated his way to a world championship this has happened with Schumaker Vettel Hamilton and the last 2 years with Verstappen, why can’t F1 be fair to all and let the best driver win like in the Mansell/ Prost days