"There should have been an instant red flag," says Martin Brundle on the shocking Suzuka scenes; Pierre Gasly narrowly avoided recovery vehicle and says he feared for his life; He was penalised by the FIA after the race for speeding
Friday 14 October 2022 17:04, UK
Sky Sports F1's Martin Brundle has described the dramatic Japanese GP scenes of Pierre Gasly's near-miss with a recovery vehicle as "unquestionably unacceptable" and says lessons have not been learned from Jules Bianchi's death.
The start of the rain-disrupted Suzuka race was overshadowed by the tractor on track, which was recovering Carlos Sainz's stricken Ferrari.
Gasly, well behind the pack behind the Safety Car, passed it at high speed and was immediately and emotionally reminded of French countryman Bianchi, who eight years earlier at the same track in Japan lost control of his car and hit a recovery vehicle. The next year, he died from his injuries.
Red Bull driver Sergio Perez called Sunday's shocking scenes "the lowest point we've seen in the sport for years" and Brundle, who was not in Japan, voiced his concern when asked about it on Any Driven Monday.
"I was horrified because I had an incident there in Suzuka in 1994 when I'd been crying on the radio for the race to be red flagged because the conditions were horrific," said Brundle, the Sky Sports F1 pundit.
"I aquaplaned off in a place where I couldn't see, even my dashboard, I went off and just missed one of the caterpillar diggers but unfortunately hit a marshal and ran back to help him. The bone of his leg was sticking out of his overalls and it was a horrible mess.
"After that experience, I remember saying in '98 [on commentary], 'we can't have vehicles on track when race cars are on track'. You can aquaplane off, you can have a car issue, whatever.
"It should never happen. Of course we did have the awful incident again in 2014 when we effectively lost Jules Bianchi.
"You just can't have it."
Gasly slammed the incident as disrespectful to Bianchi and his family and admitted he feared for his life on Sunday. The AlphaTauri driver was later handed a penalty by the FIA for driving too fast in the conditions.
But while Gasly accepted the penalty, Brundle says he should never have been put in that position as it should have been an "instant red flag".
"It's unquestionably unacceptable," added Brundle. "That should have been an instant red flag in my opinion because of the conditions, because everybody was out on intermediates.
"You can't see where you're going in the cars, you're still going quite quickly at Safety Car speeds and I'm going to assume that Alex Albon's stricken Williams was somewhere in the vicinity as well.
"I've seen other footage, the truck was straight out there, marshals on track, lessons hadn't been learned.
"We know there was debris around, some of it was on the front of Gasly's car. That had to be a red flag. We had a car in a really critical position, high speeds in those conditions, there was no alternative.
"It's not even a question of collecting cars up to buy you time, because the place where the car was absolutely meant people and vehicles had to go on track. It was an instant red flag."