Alex Albon reveals Sebastian Vettel raised issue of recovery trucks in pre-Japan meeting

Henry Valantine
Alex Albon looks on. Singapore September 2022.

Williams driver Alex Albon looks into the distance. Singapore September 2022.

Alex Albon said Sebastian Vettel raised the problem of recovery vehicles appearing on track too quickly ahead of this weekend in Japan.

The issue reared its head clearly at Suzuka after the Japanese Grand Prix was red-flagged following multiple incidents on the first lap, with wet conditions providing next to no visibility for the drivers.

Carlos Sainz spun off as he suffered a snap of oversteer in turning for the slight right-hander heading towards Spoon Curve, colliding with the barrier and sending an advertising hoarding strewn across track.

Pierre Gasly was the unlucky driver to collect the broken pieces with his front wing, but was soon left furious after the race was red flagged when he went past a recovery vehicle which was on the side of the track collecting Sainz’s stricken Ferrari – before the cars had returned to the pit lane.

With memories of the tragic accident involving Jules Bianchi in similar circumstances in 2014 at the forefront of people’s minds, Gasly and others have since spoken out in condemnation of a recovery tractor being on track in that moment.

Albon joined that school of thought, adding that four-time World Champion and senior Grand Prix Drivers’ Association member Vettel had already recently brought this to the FIA’s attention.

“We already talked about it because it already kind of happened in Singapore actually,” Albon told Sky F1.

“I’m not sure but I think Seb raised it up in the in the driver’s briefing earlier this week – I don’t know if it’s happened again.

“Of course, we know what happened you know, we don’t want to talk about [a] few years ago, but we are in a position where it is really dangerous, and I think people don’t realise that.

“Of course, the FIA I’m sure are going to be on such discussions going into the into the next race. About why that recovery crane was on the circuit.”

Albon was one of the drivers caught up in the first-lap incidents that saw the race red-flagged in the first place at Suzuka, the Williams driver getting stuck in gear at the exit of the hairpin and having to pull aside.

With the weather being as it was, he was unsure that the race should have started at all.

“Created with contact, to be honest, just the side of the car got hit and that was us out – it was one of those things,” Albon said of his race exit.

“I don’t really understand why we went racing to begin with, we could have seen maybe 10 metres in front of us at the very most.

“With cars at the back we were kind of doing pinball just because we couldn’t see the track edge, so we were just going left to right, left to right down the straights, not really knowing where the track was.

“So yeah, that’s that was what happened to me. I couldn’t see where I was on the track and I touched with another car which of course I also didn’t see, so it’s a tricky one but that’s how it is.”

Gasly was summoned by the stewards to discuss the events during the red-flagged period, with the governing body issuing a statement saying:

“In relation to the recovery of the incident on Lap 3, the Safety Car had been deployed and the race neutralised. Car 10 [Gasly], which had collected damage and pitted behind the Safety Car, was then driving at high speed to catch up to the field.

“As conditions were deteriorating, the Red Flag was shown before [Gasly] passed the location of the incident where it had been damaged the previous lap.”

Read more: Japanese Grand Prix red-flagged after multiple first-lap incidents at Suzuka