AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly has been given a post-race time penalty for driving too quickly under red flag conditions.
The French driver was summoned before race stewards at the Japanese Grand Prix, due to his driving under red flag conditions early in the race.
Following Carlos Sainz’s crash into the barriers in the second sector, Gasly had picked up debris on his AlphaTauri and was forced to pit at the end of the first lap.
Coming back out onto the track, and with the Safety Car deployed, Gasly set off in hot pursuit of the train of cars further around the circuit – only to meet a tractor on track heading to collect Sainz’s broken Ferrari.
The incident resulted in Gasly taking to team radio to make his fury clear – the French driver recollecting the tragic circumstances from the 2014 Japanese GP when Jules Bianchi suffered ultimately fatal injuries when he collided with a recovery vehicle.
While the FIA confirmed a post-race investigation into the circumstances leading to a tractor being on track would be conducted, the stewards also summoned Gasly before them to explain his speed when the red flags were shown to neutralise the race.
“The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 10 (Pierre Gasly) and team representative and reviewed video and telemetry evidence,” read the verdict, which revealed Gasly was also given two penalty points on his super licence – taking him to nine for the current 12 month period.
“After passing the scene of the incident, [Gasly] continued under the red flag situation, at speeds which exceeded 200 km/h on multiple occasions, and which reached 251 km/h at one point.
“The driver conceded that he now understood that there could have been marshals or obstacles on the track, and admitted that he was too fast.
“However, in mitigation of penalty, we take into account that although the speed could not by any measure be regarded as “slow” as required in the regulations, it was slower that the maximum speed that could be achieved under these conditions.
“We also take into account the shock the driver experienced on seeing a truck on the racing line in the corner of the incident.”
Along with the penalty points, Gasly was hit with a post-race drive-through penalty which, as he couldn’t serve it, was converted to a 20-second time penalty. This had little effect on his final result, slipping from 17th to 18th after the penalty is applied.
Pierre Gasly: It’s not fair, I was doing everything correctly
Speaking to Sky F1, Gasly spoke passionately about how F1 had disrespected the memory of the late Jules Bianchi by replicating similar conditions that the Marussia driver suffered his crash.
Gasly said he felt it wasn’t fair that he was summoned before the stewards for the incident.
“I was respecting my delta lap time,” he said.
“We got a lap time to respect on the steering [wheel] and I was still nine seconds slower than that delta. So this is not fair. It’s not fair. Because I was doing everything correctly.”
A clearly very upset Gasly said he believes he came very close to suffering a serious crash, had luck not played a part in keeping him safe when he negotiated that part of the track.
“That crane should have not been there. I would have been dead right now if I would have crashed into the crane,” he said.
“I don’t think that any tractors will be on the racetrack. They’re probably gonna say I’m wrong and probably it’s gonna be all my mistake. I don’t know. What I care about is my colleagues – all of us – and that, in the future, we don’t face this sort of situation.
Because today, if I had aquaplaned like Carlos did the lap before, I would not be standing here. There will be another one after Jules. This was already extremely painful and disrespectful towards him and all his family.”