Japanese Grand Prix: FIA launches review after Pierre Gasly escapes collision with recovery vehicle on track
Sergio Perez, Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris were among drivers to express anger after Pierre Gasly narrowly avoided a high-speed collision with a recovery vehicle during the Japanese Grand Prix, eight years after Jules Bianchi lost his life on the same circuit
Last Updated: 09/10/22 1:03pm
The FIA has confirmed it is launching a review into the deployment of a recovery vehicle which avoided a high-speed collision with Pierre Gasly during the Japanese Grand Prix.
Several F1 drivers have expressed their fury following the incident, with Sergio Perez describing it as "the lowest point we've seen in the sport for years", and Sebastian Vettel arguing that authorities were "lucky" that death or serious injury was avoided.
Following feedback from drivers after the race, the FIA has confirmed a thorough investigation to "ensure continual improvements of processes and procedures".
- Gasly penalised for speeding amid truck drama
- Japanese Grand Prix - as it happened
- Race report from Suzuka
Carlos Sainz crashed in heavy rain on the opening lap at Suzuka and dramatic video footage showed Gasly passing at high speed the tractor that had been dispatched to recover the Ferrari.
Jules Bianchi died following a similar incident at the same track in 2014 and an emotional Gasly later told Sky Sports that the moment had left him fearing for his life.
"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," said the Alpha Tauri driver.
"I passed two metres from that crane, and if I was two metres to the left I would have been dead."
The grand prix was red-flagged for more than two hours as heavy downpours eased before Max Verstappen won a shortened race to claim the world drivers' championship.
But even on a day of celebration for Red Bull, their driver Perez could not hide his anger at the danger Gasly faced.
"That's the lowest point we've seen in the sport for years," Perez told Sky Sports.
"What happened today just makes me so angry. I just hope in the sport we never get to see this situation ever again."
He added: "We saw what happened here a few years ago with our friend Jules and absolutely I don't care about what was the reason for that. It should never happen again, ever in any category."
McLaren driver Lando Norris insists that whatever the outcome of the FIA review, there can be no compromises around driver safety.
He said: "I think it's quite clear that it can't ever happen in Formula 1 ever again. Especially when at this circuit, however many years ago, we lost a life.
"It's a bit crazy. I really don't understand how it's happened. I don't know who okayed it and who allowed it to happen. We risk enough by trying to go out there and put on a show.
"You couldn't see anything, I literally mean nothing, and we're taking enough risks in those conditions, so when you have something like this it's just mind-blowing to me how someone can choose to do that, and they don't know the consequences obviously that it can have on us.
"I don't think many conversations need to be had, especially from us drivers. I think we've made it clear it should be pretty simple on how to fix it, and that's for it to never happen again."
Vettel calls for range of necessary changes
Vettel is one of seven current drivers who raced at Suzuka in 2014 when Bianchi was involved in a fateful collision with a recovery vehicle.
And the Aston Martin driver insists the sport needs to learn even more lessons after Sunday's incident, highlighting the danger drivers currently face in wet conditions.
Reflecting on what the sport had learned since 2014, he told Sky Sports: "It's probably not enough after what happened here today.
"There's a lot of things that led to this circumstance, which we need to understand.
"First the entire grid leaves on the wrong tyre, which we are all to blame for but also no-one to blame because we are in the same pressure position.
"We have an intermediate tyre that is a lot faster than an extreme tyre, but the extreme tyre is the tyre for the condition, but it's so slow you are pressured to go onto the next tyre. That needs to be improved. That would have solved the problem.
"We are not able to race when there is some water on the track because the water drainage is probably not good enough and we've known this for years.
"One thing leads to another and we had a crash with Carlos going off. Visibility is close to none when you are inside the car following with the spray.
"We are lucky that nothing happened but we need to understand and make sure it just mustn't happen."
Ferrari driver Sainz, who was blameless for the spin that prompted the incident, highlighted the lack of visibility the drivers encountered on a rain-soaked circuit.
He said: "Even behind a Safety Car we are going at 100 or 150kph and still at those speeds we don't see nothing.
"If one driver decides to get a bit out of the racing line or has a small aquaplaning or has to change a switch on the steering wheel and gets a bit out of line and hits a tractor, it's over.
"I still don't know why we keep risking, in these conditions, having a tractor on track. You were going to red-flag it anyway, so why risk it?"
Alpine's Fernando Alonso also highlighted the issues around visibility as he pleaded with the FIA to change its approach in the interests of safety,
"I didn't see the tractor," he said. "That's the visibility we have in the car.
"I didn't see Carlos and I didn't see the tractor. There is no visibility, so the last thing you expect is to see a vehicle on track.
"I only saw it on television, but I was amazed when I saw that because in the car I didn't see anything.
"After 2014 we more or less agreed that would never happen again and today it did happen, so we need for sure to clarify this.
"We need to improve all together to make sure today was the last, last, last time."