After Carlos Sainz’s accident on the first lap of the race in Japan, a Safety Car period was established, and the crane -and at least one marshal- were on the track when the safety car took the lead on the next lap, before a red flag that came as he was finishing that turn.
The presence of the tow truck went unnoticed until Pierre Gasly, who had pitted to change the nose and was trying to catch up with the peloton, walked past it.
Video of his AlphaTauri, and his radio rage, soon began circulating on social media during the red flag break.
“In any condition there should never be a crane on the track while the cars are out,” said Sergio Perez. “You never really know what can happen there.”
“No matter the conditions, it just should never happen and I really hope this is the last time we get to see a tow truck on the track in any category while there are cars out there.”
“I think the first time, when we were on the grid laps, the track looked good, even for intermediates, but I think it got worse before the start of the race and especially, I think, during the first lap it raised even more water. “.
“So yeah, I think in that sense it was correct to stop the race, start the race at two hours like we did, but what’s really bad, and it was the lowest I’ve seen in years, was two cranes out there. .
Meanwhile, several drivers said they couldn’t see the tow truck even as they slowly crawled behind the pace car.
Some of them didn’t notice the crane until they picked up their mobile phones during the red flag break, prompting a WhatsApp chat between them.
Their comments give an idea of the poor visibility that existed at that time, especially for those who were riding further back in the peloton, which further highlights the decision to take a crane out on the track in those conditions.
Fernando Alonso, who was in sixth position, admitted that he had not seen either the tow truck or the crashed car of Carlos Sainz Jr. on the previous lap.
“I still don’t know where Carlos was,” he explained when asked by Autosport about visibility.
“I didn’t see the tractor either. There is no visibility. Behind the safety car I couldn’t see the tractor and I didn’t see Carlos, so obviously this is the low point of the race. We have to understand that.”
McLaren driver Daniel Ricciardo, who was eighth in the queue, was another one who did not see the crane.
“I mean I saw her afterwards,” he admitted. “But I didn’t even watch it. I watched the replays when I got back to the pits, and I was like, ‘Ah, now maybe I think I saw it, but no, you have a hard time watching it.’
Other pilots who admitted not having seen the crane when passing by were Lance Stroll and Guanyu Zhou.