Gasly and race control both to blame for scary Suzuka crane incident

Both Pierre Gasly and race control are to blame for the scary incident in the early stages of the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix

-

“I would have died”. Those were the words of a livid Pierre Gasly who feared for his life when he went past a recovery truck and a marshal in the early stages of a wet Japanese Grand Prix.

Whatever you think of Gasly being too quick at that part of the track, there is absolutely no reason for crane to be on a track. The fact it was actually on the tarmac itself makes it worse.

All of the tracks for it to happen at, Suzuka, in the wet, eight years on from Jules Binachi‘s fatal accident which was the first death in a Formula 1 race for two decades, we are fortunate to not be talking about something else right now.

Gasly also in the wrong

There were double-waved yellow flags, then a red flag when Gasly was going through the middle sector, going too fast according to the FIA when trying to catch the pack.

He was given the equivalent of a drive through penalty which demoted him from 17th to 18th, and two penalty points which takes his tally to nine out of 12.

“After passing the scene of the incident, Car 10 continued under the red flag situation, at speeds which exceeded 200 km/h on multiple occasions, and which reached 251 km/h at one point,” read the stewards’ verdict.

“The driver conceded that he now understood that there could have been marshals or obstacles on the track and admitted that he was too fast.

Some signage blows onto the front of the car of AlphaTauri’s French driver Pierre Gasly during a rainstorm at the 2022 Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, Mie prefecture on October 9, 2022. | PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images

“However, in mitigation of penalty, we take into account that although the speed could not be any measure be regarded as ‘slow’ as required in the regulations it was slower than the maximum speed that could be achieved in these conditions.

“We also take into account the shock the driver experienced on seeing a truck on the racing line in the corner of the incident.”

The penalty is right because even if there wasn’t a crane there, Sainz‘s car was as well as marshals and a damaged barrier.

Gasly would have known there was an incident on that part of the track as he collected the advertising board that ended up on the circuit from Sainz‘s accident.

Surely his team should have informed him too so it was a mistake and we have seen the FIA penalise drivers for speeding through yellow flags before.

The key difference with Sunday’s and the unfortunate events of 2014 is the safety car was deployed straight away in Gasly‘s case, whereas race control allegedly made a mistake of just having yellow flags when Bianchi went off the track.

That’s a big difference and Gasly was still going very fast after long past Sainz and the crane which was a big mistake with hindsight.

What was a crane doing out on track?

More important though is having a crane out on track in very wet conditions with low visibility whilst cars are still going around.

Whoever made the call to deploy the crane can breathe a big sigh of relief.

As Gasly explains, even if he was travelling at a third of the speed he was doing, going slightly off line and losing control of his car at a slow speed, only to hit a stationary, heavy vehicle could have led to something horrific.

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

“How? How today can we see a crane, not only in the gravel, on a race track, while we are still on the track? I don’t understand that.

“Obviously I got scared. Obviously if I would have lost the car in a similar way Carlos lost it the lap before – it doesn’t matter the speed, 200kph, 100 – I would have died, as simple as that. I don’t understand.

“It’s disrespectful to Jules, disrespectful to his family. All of us are risking our lives out there. We are doing the best job in the world but what we are asking is to at least keep us safe, it’s already dangerous enough.

“Today I just feel 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 grateful that I’m here and tonight I’m going to call my family and all my loved ones and the outcome is what it is. I passed two metres from that crane, and if I was two metres to the left I would have been dead.”

He had every right to be outraged, as do the other drivers who also expressed their displeasure.

“In any conditions which should never see a crane on track while the cars are out there,” Sergio Perez told the press.

“You do not really know what can happen there. It doesn’t matter [about] the conditions. It should just never happen and I really hope that this is the last time we get to see in any category the recovery vehicles on track while there are cars out there.”

Race control should have waited until all of the cars were in the safety car queue, so they could at least all pass through the scene of the recovery at slow speed, or red flag the race, which they did, then recover Sainz‘s car.

Even at the 2018 Azerbaijan GP, on a sunny, dry day in Baku, Lewis Hamilton questioned why the race wasn’t red flagged when the driver slowly had to pass by a big recovery truck that was dealing with Romain Grosjean‘s Haas.

The FIA are conducing a full investigation into the incident on Sunday and whatever conclusions they come to, this must not happen again.

F1 was very lucky and they need use that fortune to ensure no racing driver goes through what Gasly experienced.

Nigel Chiu
Nigel Chiuhttps://total-motorsport.com/author/nigel-chiu/
Nigel Chiu is an NCTJ-qualified journalist who worked at Total-Motorsport for 18 months until May 2023. He has been following F1 since 2007 and hasn’t missed a Grand Prix weekend since. Nigel’s worked with several motorsport websites, plus Eurosport and subsequently went on to work with Sky Sports where he travels to multiple F1 races each season.
- Advertisment -

LATEST NEWS

Lewis Hamilton looks on in a press conference at the 2024 pre-season test in Bahrain | Mercedes / Jiri Krenek

Lewis Hamilton upbeat after Mercedes disaster in Chinese GP qualifying: Sh*t happens

0
Lewis Hamilton admits his changes made to his car prior to qualifying for the Formula 1 2024 Chinese Grand...

Christian Horner: Perez driving for Red Bull future

0
Christian Horner praised Sergio Perez's recovery after a chastening 2023 Formula 1 season, as the Mexican completed a Red...
Max Verstappen celebrates pole position after qualifying for the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Starting Grid for F1 2024 Chinese Grand Prix

0
Max Verstappen secured a dominant pole position for the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix, marking Red Bull’s 100th pole in...
Max Verstappen of Red Bull during Sprint Qualifying at the 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen roars to Chinese GP pole as Hamilton sinks to new low

0
Max Verstappen will start on pole for the Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix as Lewis Hamilton's wretched start of...
George Russell of Mercedes leads Daniel Ricciardo of Visa Cash App RB during the Sprint ahead of 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Chinese Grand Prix 2024 – Qualifying Results

0
Max Verstappen clinched pole position for the 2024 Formula 1 Chinese Grand Prix, continuing his dominance with a fifth...
Daniel Ricciardo of Visa Cash App RB during Sprint Qualifying ahead of 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

F1 Chinese Grand Prix 2024 Qualifying – Highlights

0
As the Formula 1 season progresses, the intensity mounts at the Shanghai International Circuit with the qualifying session for...
Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez after the F1 2024 Chinese GP Sprint Race | Mercedes / Wolfgang Wilhelm

Lewis Hamilton offers bleak excuse for lack of Verstappen defence after Rosberg criticism

0
Lewis Hamilton has admitted he did not try to fight Max Verstappen after the Mercedes star was denied a...
Lewis Hamilton looks on ahead of hitting the track in Friday practice at the 2024 Saudi Arabian GP | Sam Bloxham / Mercedes F1 team

Unsympathetic Lewis Hamilton blames Lando Norris for Lap 1 Sprint Race incident

0
Lewis Hamilton offered little sympathy to Lando Norris after the McLaren driver lost the lead of the 2024 Chinese...
Sprint winner Max Verstappen celebrates ahead of 2024 Chinese Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Max Verstappen explains source of Red Bull car issues during Chinese GP Sprint Race

0
A poor Sprint Qualifying effort by Max Verstappen gave everyone hope that Formula 1 might see a different winner...
Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc during 2024 Chinese GP weekend | Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

Charles Leclerc demands Sainz talks after Ferrari drivers Chinese GP Sprint clash

0
Charles Leclerc accused his Ferrari team-mate Carlos Sainz of going "over the limit" and said the pair would sit...
- Advertisment -