20/04/2024

Pierre Gasly narrowly avoided a nasty incident with a recovery tractor at the Japanese Grand Prix. (Photo: F1)

In what was a dramatic, controversial Japanese Grand Prix, the F1 world was shocked to see an unwanted visitor to the track putting Alpha Tauri driver Pierre Gasly in an extreme and dangerous circumstance

A tractor entered the circuit to help clean up Carlos Sainz’s crashed car. Under red flag conditions, Pierre Gasly was yet to pass the incident.

Travelling at an intense pace, Gasly had to react to the tractor parked on the racing line. With low visibility, spray and heavy rain, it was a dangerous circumstance and one that could have been catastrophic.

It has been eight years from the devastating incident at the exact same circuit, which saw young talent Jules Bianchi lose his life, hitting the tractor under the same conditions. The only difference being his accident was under yellow flag conditions.

Gasly was obviously furious at the vehicle being on track, something he made very clear both on team radio and to the media after the race. 

“I don’t understand how eight years later, in similar conditions, we can see a crane,” he told Sky Sports F1.

“Not even in the gravel, on the racing line! It is not respectful to Jules, his family, or his loved ones, or all of us. It was a dramatic incident.

“On that day we learned that we don’t want to see tractors in these conditions.

“If I lost the car in the same way that Carlos lost his car on the lap before? I was doing 200km/h, but even at 100km/h, it’s a 12 tonnes crane. If I hit it, I would be dead right now.”

Gasly’s onboard view of the near miss with the recovery truck.

It isn’t the first time this season we have seen a recovery vehicle on track alongside F1 cars.

At the Italian Grand Prix, a tractor crane was used to recover Daniel Ricciardo’s McLaren and was seen reversing up the track as F1 cars filtered past.

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“I was two metres away from passing away today, which isn’t acceptable as a racing driver,” Gasly continued.

“For the future, what I want is for all my colleagues to be safe, in F1 and younger categories. Hopefully, we can finally learn from this situation.”

F1 fans and drivers were quick to remind the FIA about this incident, with immediate outcry.

Questions were quickly raised as to why the tractor was on the track so quickly under red flag conditions or better yet, why weren’t the drivers notified of the vehicle on track.

The drama did not end there, as after the race the Alpha Tauri driver was given a penalty for speeding under red flag conditions during the Japanese Grand Prix.

The official F1 stewards report post-Gasly incident.

Eight years on, and still the FIA and Formula One appear to still not have learnt from these incidents.

Unnecessary risks and possibility of putting lives in danger – both for Gasly and the tractor operator – is not what F1 need.

Especially with the booming popularity of the sport all over the world, it’s the nature of this incident which can create such negativity.

The Austin GP is in two weeks’ time, and even though Max Verstappen has been crowned world champion already, there is plenty still to play out.

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