Pierre Gasly and fellow F1 drivers furious after he passes recovery vehicle on track at high speed


Formula 1 drivers and teams have united in anger after Pierre Gasly overtook a high-speed recovery vehicle in the pouring rain at the Japanese Grand Prix, with the Alpha Tauri driver claiming he could have died.

The Frenchman had stopped to replace a front wing damaged by debris from Carlos Sainz’s previous crash and was trying to catch up with the rest of the field on the opening laps when he overtook the vehicle collecting Sainz’s car.

Shortly after, the race was stopped and a nearly two-hour delay ensued as the rain eased off.

The incident evoked memories of Jules Bianchi crashing at the same circuit eight years ago, when he suffered fatal head injuries after hitting a recovery tractor.

“We’ve already lost Jules,” Gasly told Sky Sports. “We all lost an incredible guy, an incredible driver, for the reasons we know. Eight years ago, on the same track, in the same conditions, with a crane.

“Obviously I was scared. Obviously if I had lost the car the same way Carlos had lost it on the previous lap – no matter the speed, 200km/h, 100 – I would have died, as simple as that. I don’t understand.

“It’s disrespectful to Jules, disrespectful to his family. We’re all risking our lives there. We’re doing the best job in the world but what we’re asking is at least to protect ourselves, it’s dangerous enough .

“I’m just extremely grateful to be here and tonight I’m going to call my family and all my loved ones and the result is what it is. I went two meters from this crane, and if I had been to two meters to the left, I would have been dead.

Bianchi’s father, Philippe, echoed Gasly, writing on Instagram: “No respect for the pilot’s life, no respect for the memory of Jules. Unbelievable.”

Other drivers and teams also condemned the decision to allow a recovery vehicle on the track.

“Even behind the Safety Car we’re driving at 100, 150 km/h and still at those speeds we can’t see anything,” Sainz told Sky Sports.

“So if a driver decides to go off the line a bit, has a little aquaplaning, presses a button on the steering wheel and goes off the line a bit and hits a tractor, it’s over, right?”

The FIA, motorsport’s governing body, said it had launched “an in-depth review of events involving the deployment of recovery vehicles during the Japanese Grand Prix”, read a statement on its website, following comments pilots.

“It is part of standard practice to analyze all racing incidents to ensure continuous improvement of processes and procedures.”

Gasly then received a 20 second penalty and two penalty points for speeding in red flag conditions.

“It’s the lowest point we’ve seen in the sport for years,” Red Bull driver Sergio Perez told Sky Sports. “What happened today makes me so angry. I just hope that never in sport we ever see this situation again.

“We saw what happened here a few years ago with our friend Jules and I don’t really care what the reason was. This should never happen again, never in any category.


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