Carlos Sainz has hit out at the FIA’s “worthless” decision to have a tractor on track during wet conditions at the Japanese Grand Prix as the race threatened to descend into farce in Suzuka. The Ferrari driver spoke out after Pierre Gasly unleashed a furious tirade on the radio at the presence of the tractor, which would have given the drivers a haunting reminder of the tragic death of Jules Bianchi eight years ago.
Gasly had been seen in a heated discussion with his AlphaTauri team after his expletive-laden radio message whereby the Frenchman was furious that he nearly crrashed with a tractor during the opening lap of the Japanese Grand Prix.
Conditions had left the drivers with minimal visibility as the spray collected in the air and TV cameras picked up the presence of the vehicle on the side of the track. Scary on-board camera footage showed just how little he could see in his cockpit following the start of the race as a piece of debris got stuck to the front of his car, despite not leaving the track.
But Gasly was particularly incensed with the tractor being so close to the track when drivers had little control in the wet conditions and the 25-year-old made clear his frustrations on the radio.
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“God! What the?! What is this tractor?! What is this tractor on track? I passed next to it, This is unacceptable! What has happened? Can’t believe this,” Gasly shouted over his team radio.
A red flag was then brought out by race control, forcing the drivers and teams back to the pits and the race start was then suspended as the heavy downpour worsened in the Far East. And that gave Sainz the opportunity to give his opinion on the incident, with the Spaniard questioning the FIA’s decision to bring the tractor out when they were going to red flag it anyway.
“I still don’t know why in these conditions we keep risking having a tractor on-track, because it’s just worthless,” Sainz said. “If you’re going to red flag it anyway, why risk it?”
The incident would have provided a haunting reminder for drivers and fans of the tragic death of Jules Bianchi after he collided with the tractor in similarly wet conditions back in 2014, with drivers questioning whether the FIA have taken the appropriate measures to avoid a repeat.
The Spaniard admitted he was downhearted after spinning out and crashing into the barrier, but insisted there was little he could do to take avoiding action.
“Disappointed for crashing the car and for the team but at the same time, the conditions were pretty much impossible with the visibility and aquaplaning with the intermediate tyres,” he said.
“I tried to get out of the slipstream to see something but as I did I get more water in the tyre and go aquaplaning which sent me into a spin. Everyone behind you cannot see where you are in the middle of the track so you’re kind of praying for anyone not to hit you.
He later said: “People complain about driving in the wet but how can you drive a Formula 1 car at 200kph without visibility?”