Pierre Gasly: Recovery truck incident ‘disrespectful’ to Jules Bianchi’s memory

Henry Valantine
Pierre Gasly in the wet. Suzuka October 2022.

Pierre Gasly was furious at the presence of a recovery vehicle on track while he was driving at Suzuka, branding it “disrespectful” to the memory of friend and former F1 driver Jules Bianchi.

Bianchi’s collision with a recovery truck at a wet Suzuka in 2014 left him with the injury which ultimately proved fatal, with AlphaTauri driver Gasly and several others voicing their anger at similar circumstances presenting themselves again in conditions where visibility early on was almost non-existent.

The situation came about after Carlos Sainz aquaplaned and crashed into the barrier on the exit of the Turn 10 hairpin on the first lap at Suzuka, prompting the Safety Car to come out.

Gasly, having already started from the pit lane, was the unlucky driver to pick up a loose piece of material from an advertising hoarding that was strewn across the track after the Ferrari driver crashed.

He pitted to have it removed as a result, and while he was trying to catch the back of the pack as the red flag was about to be shown, his close shave with the recovery vehicle being on the edge of the track surface came as a significant shock, particularly as he could not see it until the very last moment.

Bianchi’s father Philippe agreed that the move to clear Sainz’s car with others still on track showed “no respect” for his son’s memory, and Gasly said he will be making sure to speak to those close to him as he is grateful to have walked away from the race unscathed.

Reflecting on his frightful moment to Sky F1 after the race, Gasly said: “I mean, we lost Jules already. We all lost an amazing guy, amazing driver, for the reasons that we know eight years ago on the same track in the same conditions with a crane.

“How today we can see a crane, not even in the gravel, on the racetrack while we are still on the track? I don’t understand that.

“Obviously I got scared. If I would have lost the car in the similar way as Carlos lost it the lap before, doesn’t matter the speed, 200, 100, I would have just died. As simple as that.

“And I don’t understand. Like, it’s disrespectful to Jules, disrespectful to his family and, you know, all of us, we are risking our life out there.

“We’re doing the best job in the world, but what we’re asking is just to at least keep us safe. It’s already dangerous enough and today I just feel it was unnecessary.

“We could have waited one more minute to get back in the pit lane and then put the tractors on track and I’m just extremely grateful that I’m here.

“And tonight I’m going to call my family and all my loved ones and the outcome is the way that it is because I passed two metres from that crane and [if] I would have been two metres to the left, I would have been dead.”

Gasly was later summoned to the stewards for the speed he clocked at the time of the incident, being given a drive-through penalty after the race (an automatic 20-second time addition) and two penalty points on his Super Licence.

He admitted he had been travelling too quickly at the time, but the stewards acknowledged his fury at the time, writing in their verdict: “We also take into account the shock the driver experienced on seeing a truck on the racing line in the corner of the incident.”

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