In what was by far the strangest and most controversial race of the 2022 season, Max Verstappen matched Fernando Alonso as a double World Champion; however, his victory isn’t the hot topic following the Japanese Grand Prix.
Verstappen’s 12th victory of the season came with just 28 Laps having been completed, following a lengthy break caused by a red flag for not only heavy rain but also due to a heavy crash for Carlos Sainz.
The race begun under sketchy conditions; however, the race director deemed it safe for not only green flag racing but also a standing start.
Visibility was clearly a huge issue, as were the rivers that ran across the Suzuka International Racing Course.
Sainz was unfortunate to be caught out by one of those rivers, which went across the circuit at Turn 12.
The Spaniard aquaplaned over the standing water and was a passenger as his F1-75 slid across the circuit before heavily crashing into the barrier on the exit of Turn 12.
His impact resulted in advertising boarding falling onto the circuit, which was then hit by Pierre Gasly, who pitted at the end of the lap for a new front-wing as a result.
A Safety Car was released following Sainz’s crash; however, the AlphaTauri driver was still well behind the pack.
He was admittedly going faster than he potentially should’ve done, but this is no excuse for what he came across as he approached Turn 12.
A tractor had astonishingly been released onto the circuit to recover Sainz’s Ferrari, which Gasly was a couple metres within hitting.
Members of the paddock and the F1 community couldn’t believe what they were seeing, with the FIA appearing to have learnt nothing from Jules Bianchi’s crash under a recovery vehicle at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
Bianchi sadly died as a result of the injuries, something that Gasly scarily nearly replicated.
The incident wasn’t discovered until the red flag interval, after Gasly’s onboard was released onto Twitter before being shown by broadcasters.
Red Bull boss Christian Horner labelled the incident as “unacceptable” whilst talking during the red flag, with the Brit wanting a “full investigation” to take place.
“That’s totally unacceptable. We lost Jules Bianchi here five/six (eight) years ago and that should never, ever happen, so there needs to be a full investigation as to why there was a recovery vehicle on the circuit,” Horner told Sky Sports F1.
“Checo reported it to us and of course in those horrendous conditions where visibility is zero… extremely dangerous.
“There needs to be a full, full investigation as to why that vehicle was on track because it obviously it shouldn’t have been. It’s something we decided many years ago that it’s totally unacceptable.”
Sainz was left speechless by what he was seeing unfold, with the Spaniard having remained at the scene of his crash.
With the race having been red-flagged moments after Gasly’s near-miss, the Ferrari driver wants to know why a recovery vehicle was released before all the drivers had returned to the pits.
“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?”
Gasly was summoned to the stewards after the race following the incident, where he was awarded with a 20-second time penalty and two penalty points, after being deemed to have driven too quickly under red flag conditions.