Pierre Gasly has been hit with a 20-second penalty and two points on his licence following the Japanese Grand Prix. The Frenchman has now accumulated nine points over the past 12 months. That would put the AlphaTauri star within three points of a suspension, but two points are set to drop off on Monday.
Gasly was summoned to the stewards in Suzuka for speeding under a Safety Car. An FIA statement claims he reached a top speed of 155mph as he attempted to catch up to the back on the pack.
The Safety Car was summoned after a number of drivers crashed on the opening lap because of the wet conditions. As one of the cars was being recovered, Gasly almost smashed into the pack of the tractor.
Visibility was so poor that the 26-year-old did not see the red lights on the back of the recovery vehicle, which was stationary on the track. Gasly was lucky to escape without injury as he flew past within touching distance, as was a steward who was attaching Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari to the crane, as they had to jump for cover.
“What is this tractor on track? I passed next to it… this is unacceptable. I can’t believe this,” Gasly fumed over his team radio. Shortly after, on lap three, the race was red flagged and all drivers returned to the pits.
There, Gasly fumed to his team and vented: “I could have killed myself. there’s a f****** tractor, I’m driving flat out.” The incident was reminiscent of when Jules Bianchi died after he crashed into the back of a recovery vehicle at the same track in 2014.
After the race Gasly fumed: “We lost Jules eight years ago in similar conditions with a crane on track in the gravel. I don’t understand how eight years later in similar conditions we can still see a crane, not even on the gravel but on the racing line.
“It is just not respectful towards Jules, towards his family, towards his loved ones and all of us.
“It was a dramatic incident and I think on that day we learned we don’t want to see any tractors in this kind of conditions.