‘I would have been dead’: Pierre Gasly emotional after tractor near-miss at Japanese Grand Prix

The Frenchman came close to colliding with a recovery truck in wet conditions at Suzuka and slammed the FIA for putting a crane on the circuit

Kieran Jackson
Formula 1 Correspondent
Sunday 09 October 2022 12:18 BST
Pierre Gasly fuming after passing tractor on track in scary Japanese Grand Prix incident

Pierre Gasly slammed the FIA’s decision to put a recovery truck on the racetrack and insisted he “would have been dead” after almost colliding with the vehicle in the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Frenchman sped past the crane, going in the opposite direction, after a safety car was deployed following Carlos Sainz’s crash on the opening lap of a wet race in Suzuka.

The race was red-flagged but Gasly - having had to pit for a new nose following advertising boarding being wedged in his car from Sainz’s crash - was catching up to the rest of the pack before the scary near-miss in poor visibility.

Gasly, 26, escaped unharmed but was emotional after the race, saying the incident is “disrespectful” to Jules Binachi and his family after Bianchi subsequently died after a collision with a truck in Suzuka eight years ago. Bianchi’s father online said it showed there was “no respect for Jules’ memory.”

“We lost Jules already, we all lost an amazing guy and amazing driver for the reasons that we know,” started an emotional Gasly. “Eight years ago, on the same track in the same conditions with a crane. How today can we see a crane, not even on the gravel, on the race track while we are still on the track? I don’t understand that.

“Obviously I got scared, obviously if I would have had lost the car in a similar way as Carlos lost it the lap before, it doesn’t the matter speed 200, 100 - I would have just died. Simple as that. I don’t understand, it’s disrespectful to Jules, it’s disrespectful to his family and all of us.

“We are risking our lives out there. We’re doing the best job in the world but what we’re asking is to keep us safe - it’s already dangerous enough. I just feel today it was unnecessary.

“We could have waited one more minute to get back in the pit lane and then put the tractors on track. I’m just extremely greatful that I’m here and tonight I’m going to call my family and all my loved ones and the outcome is the way that it is.

“I pass two metres from that crane - if I was two metres to the left I would have been dead.”

Pierre Gasly came close to colliding with a recovery vehicle at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix
Pierre Gasly came close to colliding with a recovery vehicle at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix (F1)

Gasly has since been given a 20-second time penalty for speeding over 250 kmh under the red flag - but stewards did take into account his “shock” at seeing a truck on the track.

“I was respecting my delta lap time on the steering, I was still nine seconds sloer then that delta,” Gasly explained.

“This is not fair - I was doing everything correctly. That crane should have not been there. If I had been dead right now and had crashed into that crane, what’s the outcome?

The Frenchman was furious after the incident
The Frenchman was furious after the incident (AP)

“I don’t think any tractor should be on a race track. They’re probably going to say I’m wrong and probably going to say it’s my mistake, I don’t know.

“What I care about is my colleagues, all of us, and in the future we don’t face this sort of situation as we did today because if I had aquaplained like Carlos did the lap before, I would not be standing here and there would be another one after Jules. Jules was already extremely painful and I don’t think it’s respectful towards him and all his family.

“The most important thing is thank God, everything was fine today. We came close to a dramatic outcome. What’s most important is for the future they don’t put us in this situation when it’s not necessary. We could have waited one more minute and had gone back in the pit lane.”

Sergio Perez, Lando Norris and other drivers have all come out to echo Gasly’s concern, with “angry” Red Bull driver Perez - whose team-mate Max Verstappenclaimed the World Championship on a dramatic day in Japan - labelling the incident the “lowest point we’ve seen from this sport in years.”

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