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FIA to launch investigation into deployment of recovery vehicle


Following the understandable outcry over today's Japanese Grand Prix, the FIA is to launch an investigation into the deployment of the recovery vehicle following Carlos Sainz' retirement.

In the aftermath of the first lap incident which saw the Spaniard spin and hit an advertising hoarding before bouncing back on to the track, race officials deployed a recovery vehicle to move the stricken Ferrari.

While the majority of the field subsequently passed the vehicle whilst following the Safety Car, Pierre Gasly, who had pitted at the end of the opening lap, and was now charging to catch up with the tail of the field, came upon the vehicle without warning.

In light of the incident at this track which resulted in the death of his friend Jules Bianchi in 2014, the Alpine driver launched a tirade at officials for deploying the vehicle whilst cars were still lapping the circuit.

"I tried to slow down, not in an erratic manner, because if I slammed the brake, I would have lost the car and ended up in the crane," Gasly subsequently told reporters. "I was two metres away from passing away today, which is not acceptable as a racing driver."

Gasly went on to question why the vehicle was deployed before the race had been red-flagged.

"We were all in the pitlane a minute later," he said, referring to the red flagging. "Risking my life for one minute, I don't think that is acceptable.

"We have a delta lap time, there is a certain process that we've got to follow under the safety car, I was respecting it and there was a crane on the racing line.

"We lost Jules eight years ago in similar conditions, with a crane on track in the gravel," he said. "I don't understand how eight years later, in similar conditions, we can see a crane., not even in the gravel, but on the racing line.

"It is not respectful to Jules, his family or his loved ones, or all of us. It was a dramatic incident. On that day we learned that we don't want to see tractors in these conditions.

"If I lost the car in the same way that Carlos lost his car on the lap before? I was doing 200 km/h, but even at 100 km/h, it's a 12 tonnes crane. If I hit it, I would be dead right now.

"I am extremely grateful that I am still standing. Still able to call my family, my loved ones, and nothing happened. For all us drivers, I hope this is the last time we see a crane.

"We all suffered from Jules' accident. If we could go back and change the situation on that day, he would still be here.

"For the future, what I want is for all my colleagues to be safe, in F1 and younger categories. Hopefully we can finally learn from this situation."

The Frenchman was subsequently handed a 20 time penalty for using excessive speed under red flag conditions, but that doesn't detract from the risk the vehicle posed in the first place, especially in light of Bianchi's crash.

Within moments of the incident fans, like Gasly, were venting their fury on social media, whilst many of the drivers also voiced their frustration and anger.

Amidst mounting criticism, the FIA has released a statement announcing that the incident will be investigated.

"While it is normal practice to recover cars under Safety Car and Red Flag conditions, due to the particular circumstances and also taking into account feedback from of a number of drivers, the FIA has launched a thorough review of the events involving the deployment of recovery vehicles during the Japanese Grand Prix," it reads.

"This is part of the common practice of analysis of all race incidents to ensure continual improvements of processes and procedures."

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1. Posted by Spindoctor, 10/10/2022 22:11

"Mr Editor Balfe has neatly summarised this hugely dangerous situation. Let's not dwell too much on driver culpability, but strenuously lobby FIA to act more decisively in future."

Rating: Negative (-1)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

2. Posted by Pavlo, 10/10/2022 16:27

"Was Gasly only one who was so fast?
Penalty for him is correct, but penalising only one who complained - it smells.
I’d expect everyone who was fast to be penalised.

Rightly said - in this case questionable why truck was there, but in other circumstances it may be crucial and there may be even people (doctors) on track."

Rating: Neutral (0)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

3. Posted by Mad Matt, 10/10/2022 14:12

"To repeat what I said earlier:

"There could have been marshals and doctors on track extracting an injured driver. No driver in those circumstances should have been going too fast to stop in those conditions, if that means 50kph then that's what you do."

I like Pierre but all drivers need to take red flags and double waved yellows seriously."

Rating: Positive (5)     Rate comment: Positive | NegativeReport this comment

4. Posted by Editor, 10/10/2022 13:45

"Let's not forget that one of the main moves following Bianchi's accident was the introduction of the VSC.

This should have been deployed instantly, thereby forcing drivers - including Gasly - to reduce speed.

As ludicrous as it was to have that recovery vehicle on track, Gasly should not have been doing such speeds in such conditions."

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5. Posted by Greg, 10/10/2022 10:09

"@steve666 and @motorsportfan, very much agree with your comments. Seems to just slow that little bit is all ok. Never mind the what's actually happening "

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6. Posted by Motorsport-fan, 10/10/2022 7:57

"Basically ignoring the yellow flag rule of "slow down and be prepared to stop" has been ignored in motorsport for far to long, fully agree with @ Steve 666."

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7. Posted by Steve 666, 09/10/2022 18:52

"If drivers “Slowed and Prepared to Stop” under Double Yellows it would be much safer but it seems these days it’s acceptable just to slow, a little bit, the FIA need to apply the rules that are in place."

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