After Carlos Sainz’s accident on the first lap after the exit of the second sector hairpin, the stewards decided to send a crane to remove the Ferrari from the Madrid native who had been left standing there. With the memory of Jules Bianchi’s fatal incident on that same stage in 2014 still fresh, it created widespread unrest throughout the paddock.
Several drivers raised concerns about the presence of an extraction vehicle as they lapped behind the safety car, including Pierre Gasly passing within two meters of the tow truck in his AlphaTauri at over 250km/h after a pit stop.
The Frenchman was furious, saying: “We lost Jules [Bianchi] eight years ago in similar conditions, with a crane in the gravel of the track. I don’t understand how eight years later, in a similar situation, we can still see a crane, not even on the gravel, but on the line.
“It’s not respectful to Jules, or his family or loved ones, or us [the drivers],” he continued. “It was a dramatic thing, and I think we learned that day that we don’t want to see any kind of crane in those conditions.”
“If I had lost the car in a similar way to how Carlos [Sainz] did on the previous lap, which was going 200 km/h, but that’s not the issue, even at 100 km/h, if I had lost it and crashed against a 12-ton crane, now I’d be dead,” Gasly explained.
Although the FIA is clear that it is standard procedure in Formula 1 for vehicles to be towed away under Safety Car conditions, it says feedback from drivers about what happened has led to things being taken more seriously.
An FIA spokesman said that a thorough review of what happened on Sunday night would be carried out to see what lessons could be learned and to ensure that such problems were not repeated in the future.
The statement said: “Although it is normal to recover the cars under safety car and red flag conditions, due to the particular circumstances and also taking into account the comments of the drivers, the FIA has launched a thorough investigation of the events related to the deployment of extraction vehicles during the Japanese GP”.
“This is part of the usual practice of reporting and analyzing all race incidents to ensure continuous improvement of processes and procedures,” they indicated in the text.
One of the key aspects of the investigation will be whether the track marshals acted unilaterally in dispatching a crane so quickly, or whether they were authorized to do so by Race Direction.
Article 2.6.1 of Appendix H of the International Sporting Code , by which all FIA events are governed, clearly states: “No stewards or vehicle shall enter the circuit perimeter without race control permission.”
Do you want to read our news before anyone else and for free? Follow us here on our Telegram channel and you won’t miss a thing. All the information, at your fingertips!