Gasly says he ‘could have died’ if he’d hit crane as FIA penalises him for speeding

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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A shaken Pierre Gasly said he came close to being killed when he passed by a crane at speed during the Japanese Grand Prix.

The AlphaTauri driver was one of several who alerted their teams to the recovery vehicle, one of two which was on track between the hairpin and Spoon curve when the Safety Car was deployed at the start of the race. He passed the vehicle at just under 200km/h almost at the exact moment that the race was red flagged by race control.

Gasly said the sport has not learned from the death of Jules Bianchi at the same track eight years earlier when he struck a recovery vehicle.

“We lost Jules. We lost Jules already. 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 the crane. How?

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

Gasly admitted he “got scared” when he passed by the crane, which was sent on track to recover Carlos Sainz Jnr’s crashed car. “Obviously if I would have lost the car in a similar way as Carlos lost it the lap before – it doesn’t matter the speed, 200, 100 – I would have just died. As simple as that.

“I don’t understand. It’s disrespectful to Jules, disrespectful to his family and all of us. We are risking our lives out there. We are doing the best job in the world but what we are asking is just to at least keep us safe. It’s already dangerous enough.”

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Speaking to Sky, Gasly said the crane’s presence on track was “unnecessary” as the race was about to be red-flagged. “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 the way that it is, because I passed two metres from that crane and I if I would have been two metres to the left, I would have been dead.”

After the red flag was called, Gasly continued to drive at a relatively fast speed along the long back straight connecting the Spoon Curve and the 130R corner. As he approached the 130R, he briefly breached 250km/h while he made his way back to the pit lane. The stewards issued Gasly a drive-through penalty after the race, converted to a 20-second time penalty, for driving too fast under the red flag conditions.

Gasly insisted he was “respecting my delta lap time” while the race was neutralised. “We got a lap time to respect in the steering and I was still nine seconds slower than delta.”

However the stewards noted he accepted he had driven too quickly. “After passing the scene of the incident, car 10 [Gasly] continued under the red flag situation, at speeds which exceeded 200km/h on multiple occasions, and which reached 251km/h at one point.

“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.”

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The stewards accepted Gasly had been affected by seeing the crane on track. “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.”

Gasly believes continuing to send cranes onto live tracks in the way that was done today disrespects the memory of Bianchi.

“That crane should have not been there,” he said. “If I would have been dead right now, I would have crashed into that crane, what’s the outcome? I don’t think that any tractor should be on a race track.”

“What I care about is my colleagues, all of us, and that in the future we don’t face this sort of situation,” he added. “Because today, if I would have aquaplaned like Carlos did before, I would not be standing here and there will be another one after Jules. And Jules was already extremely painful. I don’t think it’s respectful towards him and all his family.”

Gasly was also given two penalty points on his licence, putting him on a total of nine and leaving him three away from an automatic race ban.

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2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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53 comments on “Gasly says he ‘could have died’ if he’d hit crane as FIA penalises him for speeding”

  1. Yeah, no poop. This was simply unacceptable, how in the world can this happen, and in Suzuka of all places?

    Heads need to roll.

  2. If Gasly had died, he’d be chatting with Bianchi about their regret for not obeying the flags and driving to the conditions with some common sense – as they would both still be alive if they had.
    As correct as Gasly may be that the FIA hasn’t learned enough from Bianchi’s incident, clearly neither has Gasly.

    1. You’ve overlooked the stewards’ explanation on Gasly which notes the speeding took place “after passing the scene of the incident”.

      1. Nevertheless, he was noted to have been doing more than 200kph through the scene of the incident.

        1. Coventry Climax
          9th October 2022, 12:59

          If safety is indeed of such importance, as the FIA claims, they should have waited with sending trucks on track until AFTER every (remaining) driver had left it.
          I don’t mind if the FIA says that there might be trucks on track in these situations, but then they should come out in the open with such decisions, be very clear about it and make it every driver’s own responsability.
          As it stands however, the consensus was this would not happen again, and yet it did.
          It is, either way, the FIA who is responsible for this mess.
          In a sense, Gasly’s penalty is just distracting from that.

          1. It is, either way, the FIA who is responsible for this mess. In a sense, Gasly’s penalty is just distracting from that.

            As I said in another comment section – this is two completely separate things.
            1) It is the FIA for sending the vehicle out.
            2) It is Gasly for speeding through an incident controlled by yellow flags.

            ‘Blaming’ one does not absolve the other. They were both wrong, and neither should be pardoned for it.
            I think Gasly’s penalty was light, to be honest. He was putting both himself and the track workers at great risk.

            It’s entirely irrelevant what the consensus is. It could still happen again regardless, and it did. It could even happen at the next event too, even though it shouldn’t.
            The FIA is a just a bunch of humans, after all. Humans lack the ability to share a collective consciousness, so there will always be deviations and errors.
            You are imposing way too high an expectation on them if you think there won’t be.

        2. Gasly was not speeding, he was 9bsexojda under the delta.

          Even the stewards said it was slower than the maximum allowed

          1. Gasly, himself, admits he was driving too fast through the incident….

            His delta time is only applicable when the track is clear, BTW. This sector was under the control of yellow flags – for obvious reasons.
            The course went red as he drove through it and he then continued to speed up, which is a big no-no.

      2. You’ve overlooked Gasly’s words, which you quoted in the article, explaining why speed limits exist through the whole track and recognising “that there could have been marshals or obstacles on the track, and admitted that he was too fast.”

      3. You’ve overlooked common sense, which Gasly often shows he has none of. He KNEW where Sainz accident was.

      4. @keithcollantine

        Regardless of the crane’s position. He needs to respect the conditions, the flags and have common sense of risking your life for a slight delta time lost. It was going to be a safety car or a red flag anyways. He could have gone off at another corner over 200kmh and put a Marshal’s life at risk.

        Quite a narrow minded approach from him. He’s blaming the FIA (who are at fault), but he’s equally to blame for putting himself at risk.

    2. You are evil. Like unironically.

        1. Because you speak the truth and it is illegal to do so. Shame on you!

    3. And what about Gasly driving with a loose headrest before he pitted?

    4. Gasly put Marshall in danger.
      in red flag.
      Marshall is out on the course.
      Gasly’s speed is 251km/h.

  3. How cynical is to speak about Bianchi, the life, the death… after passing at 251 kph through the zone he knew it has been an accident at, with SC boards & lights and red flags and lights?

    Was he thinking about the marshals’ lives when travelling at 251 kph?

    Oh my word, DT was too lenient.

    1. Agreed, it’s in poor taste to do so given his apparent and, later to the stewards, admitted lack of consideration for the safety of the marshals. A red flag means the track can’t be safely navigated, even under SC. Gasly speeding around at 200kmh+ is well worth a serious sporting penalty.

    2. Coventry Climax
      9th October 2022, 13:11

      Disagree. See my comment above. It’s the FIA themselves that create confusion as to what can be expected on track in these situations, yet they put the blame on someone else.
      He passed the vehicle at 200, which, even though he exaggerates to make people realise the situation, is a speed driver and car can easily handle.
      It was after that, that he was penalised for driving ‘relatively fast’. He admitted to that being ‘wrong’, but that takes NOTHING away from the FIA’s own stupidity. Distracts from it, but does not take away anything from it.
      It’s that stupidity that Gasly wants to stress.

      1. And not his own….

      2. Rubbish.
        There are plenty situations where emergency vehicles will have to be release onto the circuit before waiting for all the cars to get back to the safety of the pits … case in point is Grosjean’s fireball accident.
        That’s what the flags are for, but drivers these days see flags in terms of time loss alone. The sport has become so safe that they have no respect for them.
        Gasly’s comments alone show a level of selfishness and disregard for the lives of the marshals who were on the track when he raced past at 250km/h so that he wasn’t inconvenienced in his efforts to catch back up to the pack.
        The FIA should have given him a minimum 5 race ban for his driving and his attitude..

        1. Coventry Climax
          9th October 2022, 23:08

          Actually, I’m fine with that. But only as long as the FIA clearly, publicly and unambiguously states they will do so, deal with situations consistently and penalise infringements consistently.
          You claim that increased car safety is the reason for general neglect of flags, I put the blame on lack in consistency from the FIA. These past years, we’ve been getting SC’s and VSC’s and red flags for nearly any incident, and then suddenly we have this? There was no need or reason for that truck to be there at that time. Ofcourse there will always be exceptions, like when the medical car is required urgently, but in such cases the race director(s) should be vocal about it, loud and clear, to all the teams and preferably even to all drivers directly.

  4. I don’t think they need to call for a red flag whenever a recovery vehicle is needed.

    I think in the future all that needs to happen is for no recovery vehicle to be sent out until all the cars are in the SC queue as at that point the SC can further reduce speeds through that part of the track (As it did today actually).

    And should a car pit after after that just implement a slow zone forcing drivers to stick to a safe speed while going through that part of track.

    I also think we need to have direct communication between race control and drivers as we see in WEC for example so that race control can tell all drivers directly where the incident is, Whats on track & where it is and inform them that through that sector the SC will run at reduced speed and they all need to follow it at the reduced speed and stay in line.

    Gasly & others are raising the view that given how the red flag came out anyway they should have waited but that goes by the assumption that they knew they were going to bring out the red flag which I don’t think they did. They went with a SC (At which point the recovery vehicle would have entered the track which is standard procedure) and I think conditions worsened quite quickly during that SC which led them to switch to a red flag.

    I’d also raise the point that even without the recovery vehicle on track Gasly should have known there was a crashed car there (Likely with track workers recovering it) as he’d past it the lap before and double waved yellow flags were still been waved so he should have known he needed to drive slower through that part of the track.

    So regardless of anything else the penalty he’s got was justified & way drivers tend to treat yellow/double waved yellow flags is something that needs to be looked at as I don’t think many (If any) of them respect yellow flags as they should be.

    1. agreed,
      a driver speeding 200km/h under double yellow in extremely bad weather/visibility and reaching 251km/h under a red flag is something that should never happen.

      1. The geniuses at the FIA fined Vettel for ‘setting a bad example’ when he walked out of their oh-so important meeting. But these antics they penalize with a meaningless time penalty. Good work, team!

        1. And fair enough too. Given the number of junior racers who need to attend drivers briefings and the potential for serious information to be passed on during them, they can’t be seen to condone skipping them, can they?

          And the time penalty is only ‘meaningless’ because F1 doesn’t award points for all finishers, or even enough of them for it to impact Gasly.
          They did award two licence penalty points too, though….

          1. The penalty is meaningless because the FIA chose to give him a penalty that has no effect on this race nor on the next. They had other options, plenty of them.

          2. And they’ll suffer any backlash from it.
            The point is that if he’d been in a different position (let’s say 9th) then it would certainly have affected his race result.
            And I repeat – they did give him penalty points on his licence, which isn’t completely meaningless. It could have earned him a race ban if he’d had enough.
            If they applied a different penalty based on his finishing position, then that wouldn’t be fair or consistent with others who’d committed the same offence but achieved a different result. Would it.

            So I ask – should they change the penalty system, or the race/championship points system? Or both?
            What penalty would you have given him?

          3. Vettel was given a five place grid penalty and three points on his license in 2015 when he overtook someone under red flag conditions while going back the pitlane. In bright sunny Canadian weather. Given the conditions, the long warning – it was already a safety car situation – and the fact that it happened in the race with marshals on track, something at least equal to that if not harsher would have seemed appropriate.

            Penalties like race bans aren’t given often these days. But Renault was banned as a team for failing to secure Alonso’s wheel in 2009, thereby endangering other competitors, marshals and spectators. In that sense, a race ban for Gasly wouldn’t seem out of order. Especially given his admission that he just didn’t think about the marshals.

          4. Interesting examples.
            Pity that they were so long ago, and aren’t at all relevant to F1 today.

            I totally agree that the penalty was lenient, but that’s not at all uncommon in F1 today.
            Personally, I’d have thrown the book and all of its content at him – but the FIA don’t view their own rules with the strictness and importance that I do.
            I mean, we can’t be banning the supposed ‘best drivers in the world’ can we…..?

    2. @stefmeister Or not even wait for the safety car to bunch up the field. Just have a local VSC zone limiting to 40mph or whatever speed they deem safe in the vicinity of the accident and recovery vehicle.

    3. Think about what you said … no safety vehicles until it’s convenient?
      That is absolutely ridiculous … even more stupid than what Gasly had to say.
      Imagine a Grosjean type fireball, and Marshals aren’t allowed to react to it, until all the primadonna Gasly’s of the world are safely back in the pitlane. BS.
      There are flags there which were always sufficient without any additional measures.
      The problem is that the damn drivers no longer follow the flags. That is on them, and shouldn’t need further interventions because they refuse to just follow the rules.

      1. His comments throughout his career and the dull look in his eyes, shows Gasly isn’t one of the brightest bulbs out there.

  5. The 20-sec penalty didn’t affect the race-outcome points-wise, but ultimately the most important thing is nothing went wrong.

  6. On F1 tv I heard japan has different approach to recovery vehicles. They send them out more often than europeans do. FIA and Gasly should both find mirrors and have a long talk after that for both parties this is was amoral.

    1. Take a look at Super GT or Super Formula sometime. They certainly do send vehicles out on track regularly, often under green and/or local yellows.

      Google Super GT Circuit Safari for a real experience of Japanese motorsport. ;)

    2. @qeki This is true.

      They are also much quicker to send them out, I can recall times where the little digger things they use have started moving towards the circuit before the car thats gone off has even stopped moving. Have also seen a few instances where one has gone out into the runoff only to have to turn around and go back behind the barriers due to the car that had gone off been able to recover itself out of the gravel.

      They also use some different barrier types and have some other very different safety/recovery protocols for the domestic categories. They use these big sponge barriers instead of tecpro for instance.

      In theory the local marshals should be adhering to FIA protocols during FIA championship meetings but this doesn’t always happen as they train so much for the domestic categories that those protocols tend to be what they default to. You see it at Monaco as well where the ACM trained marshals have a different way of recovering vehicles than you see elsewhere with some different equipment to wheel cars away quickly.

      1. It’s admirable marshal work. I guess Europeans and Americans have become so dumb they need to see an accident come to a rest before they know how to respond.

        1. It’s actually an interesting dynamic, isn’t it.
          Japan seems almost reckless by comparison, and yet anyone who’s seen Indycar and NASCAR know full well that their medical/fire response crews are on the track before the cars involved have stopped moving….
          It’s really only the Europeans who seem to be taking the super slow and cautious approach.

    3. Race control gave the order to put the modified car on the course.

      1. modified car -> recovery vehicle

  7. The stewards made the right decision here in regards to Gasly, he could have hurt somebody if they were any marshals nearby. That said given his close call it’s also mitigating to some level.

    On the flipside, that crane should not have been there and that was a really bad screwup by the FIA or track staff, SOMEWHERE.

  8. The flip side of Gaslys argument is that if there were Marshalls there they would have died. The Sky team of experts did cover this well particularly Jonny Herbert who said Gasly’s speed was excessive for driving through an accident scen and after a red flag. When Herbert raced he did not have the expectation of safety he knew he would have to slow down for his safety and those around him. There was no need for Gasly to try and catch the safety car.

    It does however raise questions about how to clear away a car on track in the rain. Is it an automatic immediate red flag? If it is not safe for vehicles to be there for drivers it is not safe for marshalls to be there and not safe for a driver to get out of his car. Clearly safety car is not enough as drivers can pit at any time for any length of time and want to catch up the pack.

    1. Herbert is one of the few worthwhile Sky commentators.

  9. The problem isn’t the rules or the track workers – the problem is that the competitors flat out disobey they explicit instructions that yellow/double yellow/red flags symbolise.
    And that’s where the FIA really does need to penalise for such things – they need to clearly and consistently tell competitors that speeding through a yellow flag zone – regardless of the state of the track or any incident – is totally unacceptable. At all times.
    They’ve been so lazy about it for so long that the competitors simply have zero respect for the rules and the track workers – and by extension – for the FIA.

    1. Davethechicken
      9th October 2022, 20:24

      Indeed S. Jules Bianchi only missed the Marshall beside the crane he did hit by fluke. It was very close to being a doubly fatal accident.

    2. Could not agree more!!

      What a driver needs to do under ANY flag is independent of ANYTHING else! A double waved yellow means be prepared to stop. Period. Whether it’s raining or any other circumstances.

      The FIA has accepted this for far far too long, which invites drivers to push the limits, as drivers do. I hate when people call for race bans Willy nilly . But if there was ever an occasion to do so, this is it.

      The recovery vehicle being on track is a completely unrelated topic to Gasly’s actions, and I’m disappointed beyond words that he tried to shift blame and invoke Bianchi’s collision and ultimate death in his arguments.

  10. FIA blaming driver while washing its hand of murder is not new. Whiting and Eccelstone got away with murder in 2014 already while pinning blame squarely Bianchi.

    1. Have you ever been to a race circuit before, like ever?

      1. Exactly. This person is clearly not familiar with motorsport. The track stays green when a tow truck comes (but with a recovery vehicle sign sign at all stations) in my racing leagues and we manage not to smash them. Ever.

  11. I agree with the ex-drivers who were giving their opinions on this on Sky. Crane shouldn’t have been there, but Gasly was also at fault. He should’ve been driving a lot more carefully at the time since there may well have been marshalls in the vicinity and it’s possible Gasly could’ve aquaplaned off into them in a worst case scenario. As Di Resta (I think it was) said, “the crane can have lights on it, the marshalls can’t”. Also agree with them when they were saying yellow flags in general are not really respected these days, all they do most of the time is lift for a tenth of a second and that’s enough to comply with them.

    1. Davethechicken
      9th October 2022, 20:22

      Seems a bit rich from Gasly. Would he worry if it was marshall on the track where the crane was? Would he even have mentioned it? After all he stands more chance in a collision with a crane than the Marshall would with an F1 car at 200kph.
      Jules narrowly missed a marshall when he hit the crane.

  12. Gasly was driving at 200 kph in a zone where he knew an accident happend. Even if there is no crane there, Sainz Ferrari and stewards were there, so there is a reckless action for Gasly and an hypocrate attitude to says he could died because of the crane. He could died for not follow the yellows flags and speeding at an accident zone in rain conditions.
    On the other hand, saefty car pass very slow on that zone, butI believe that, if a crane has to manouver on the track, saefty car should stop there until crane was off track… like a virtual red flag.

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