until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Formula 1

‘I would be dead right now’ – Gasly on Suzuka track near-miss

by Josh Suttill, Scott Mitchell-Malm
4 min read

Pierre Gasly says he could have died in Formula 1’s Japanese Grand Prix and labelled the officials as being “not respectful” to Jules Bianchi, who lost his life as a result of injuries sustained at the circuit in 2014.

Gasly was enraged when he encountered a recovery vehicle while he was making his way back to the pits when the Japanese GP was red-flagged after just three laps because of worsening weather conditions.

Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri F1 Japanese GP Suzuka

The field passed the vehicle under the safety car, which was called when Carlos Sainz crashed his Ferrari on lap one, while Gasly – adrift from the pack because of damage from debris from that crash that required a visit to the pits for repairs – came across the vehicle just as the race was red-flagged.

Gasly demonstrated his fury in the pitlane after the incident during the lengthy red flag period and criticised the FIA when speaking to the media after the race, calling it disrespectful to the memory of Bianchi.

Bianchi, a close friend of Gasly, died in 2015 as a consequence of injuries suffered during the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix where he collided with a recovery vehicle that was recovering Adrian Sutil’s Sauber under double waved yellow flags.

“We lost Jules eight years ago in similar conditions with a crane on track in the gravel,” Gasly said.

“I don’t understand how eight years [later] in similar conditions, we can still see a crane, not even in the gravel but on the racing line.

“Not respectful towards Jules, his family and his loved ones, and all of us.

“It was a dramatic incident and on that day, we learned that we don’t want to see any tractors in these kind of conditions.

“If I’d have lost the car in a similar way to Carlos lost it the lap before, I was doing 200km/h – but that’s not even the matter, if I was doing 100km/h, [and came across a] 12-tonne crane, if I hit it, I would be dead right now.

“And I’m just extremely grateful that I’m still standing and I’m still going to be calling my family tonight, I’m still going to be able to call my loved ones and nothing happened.

“Really for the sake all of us drivers, I hope this can be the last time we see a crane and we take such unnecessary risk for all of us race drivers.”

Pierre Gasly AlphaTauri F1 Japanese GP Suzuka

Gasly couldn’t understand why the FIA didn’t delay the deployment of the recovery vehicle until all of the cars were back in the pitlane.

“Risking my life for a minute[-faster recovery], I don’t think that’s acceptable,” he said.

The FIA sanctioned Gasly for a breach of the regulations regarding his speed under the red flag, having said that he was running as fast as 251km/h under red flag.

Gasly argued to Sky that he was respecting his delta time and not driving faster than necessary, saying he was “nine seconds” off a proper pace.

But the delta time applies for safety car periods rather than red flags, and the latter scenario applied as he passed the recovery truck.

The stewards’ verdict claimed Gasly ultimately acknowledged he was going “too fast”, and he was assessed a 20-second penalty and two penalty points.

The 30-second penalty only relegates him to 18th from 17th, but the penalty points take him to nine for the 12-month period, leaving him just three short of a race ban.

Gasly wasn’t the only driver to point to Bianchi’s incident as Lando Norris criticised the FIA via Twitter during the red flag stoppage.

As did Red Bull driver Sergio Perez who echoed Gasly’s call for recovery vehicles to remain off the track when the cars are on it.

Perez’s team boss Christian Horner called it “totally unacceptable” and also cited the Bianchi precedent.

And the incident was also heavily criticised by Bianchi’s father Philippe.

“No respect for the life of the driver, no respect for Jules’ memory, incredible,” he wrote on Instagram.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Email
  • More Networks