Pierre Gasly has given an emotional interview following the Japanese Grand Prix where he endured a damning near-miss with a tractor.
Gasly started from the pit lane was attempting to catch up to the rest of the grid when he zoomed past the recovery vehicle which had entered the track to clear Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari.
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The Frenchman unleashed over the team radio as fans watching on couldn’t quite believe the incident had unfolded with red flags waving only a split second before Gasly went past.
“What is this? What is this tractor on track?! I passed next to it,” he said.
“This is unacceptable. Remember what has happened. Can’t believe this,” he fumed.
“I could have f***ing killed myself.”
The scary near-miss brought back memories from eight years ago at Suzuka when Jules Bianchi crashed into the back of a tractor and sadly lost his life.
After the race Gasly was dumbfounded as to how, eight years on, a tractor was allowed on the track with cars still driving around, labelling it “disrespectful” to the memory of Bianchi.
“We lost Jules already. We all lost an amazing guy – eight years ago on the same track in the same conditions with a crane,” he told Sky Sports.
“How today can we see a crane not even in the gravel, on the racetrack, while we are still on the track. I don’t understand that.
“Obviously I got scared. If I lost the car in a similar way as Carlos before. It doesn’t matter the speed 200, 100km/h. I would have just died. Simple as that.
“It’s disrespectful to Jules, disrespectful to his family and all of us. We are risking our life out there. We are doing the best job in the world but what we are asking is at least keep us safe.
“It’s already dangerous enough and 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. If I was two metres to the left I would have been dead.
“We’ve got a lap time in the steering and I was still nine seconds slower than that. This is not fair because I was doing everything correctly. That crane should not have been there.
“If I would have been dead right how, if I crashed, what’s the outcome? I don’t think any tractor should be on the racetrack.
“They’re probably going to say I’m wrong and it’s probably going to be all my mistake. What I care about is my colleagues and in the future we don’t face this sort of situation.
“Because if I aquaplaned like Carlos did the lap before, I would not be standing here and there would be another one after Jules.
“Jules was already painful and I don’t think it’s respectful towards him and his family.”
The FIA handed down its ruling over the incident in the aftermath to the Japanese Grand Prix, which ended with Max Verstappen claiming a comfortable victory and securing his second straight Formula 1 title in farcical scenes.
Gasly was summoned to attend a post-race hearing with the stewards who ultimately handed the AlphaTauri star a drive-through penalty (20 seconds) for speeding under red flags.
He was received two penalty points on his superlicence, which takes him up to nine over a 12-month period.
“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,” said the stewards.
“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.
“However, in mitigation of penalty, we take into account that although the speed could not by any measure be regarded as ‘slow’ as required in the regulations, it was slower that the maximum speed that could be achieved under 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 drops Gasly from 17th to 18th, seeing him finish last after Sainz and Williams Alex Albon’s races ended on the opening lap.