Max Verstappen stormed to his second Drivers’ World Championship at the first Japanese Grand Prix since 2019, thanks to his 12th victory of the 2022 season. However, the Dutchman’s glory wasn’t the talking point after the drenched race at the Suzuka International Racing Course.
The hot topic after the Grand Prix was the “unacceptable” incident which took place on the second lap, following on from Carlos Sainz’s opening lap crash.
Sainz was unfortunate to aquaplane at Turn 12 on the opening lap, which saw the Spaniard helplessly slide across the circuit and into the barrier on the outside of the corner.
The impact with the wall was a heavy one, that not only made Sainz’s car bounce back onto the edge of the circuit, but also made advertising boarding fall onto the circuit.
A number of drivers went over the boarding; however, Pierre Gasly was unfortunate enough to hit the material whilst it blew up.
“What the hell is that?” asked Gasly.
“Oh my god. Something is stuck, I can’t see in front of me,” he worryingly said.
Visibility was already massively compromised due to the sheer volume of spray being flicked up into the air from the full Wet tyres.
Hitting the advertising boarding unsurprisingly broke the Frenchman’s front-wing, resulting in an opening lap pit-stop.
Things almost became considerably worse for the AlphaTauri driver, who came close to a potentially deadly collision whilst trying to tag onto the back of the field, who were behind a Safety Car on the second lap.
Whilst approaching Sainz’s stricken F1-75 at Turn 12, Gasly narrowly avoided hitting a recovery vehicle which had entered the circuit, an incident that is being investigated by the FIA following a number of complaints from both team principals and drivers.
Gasly couldn’t believe what he had seen, with the Frenchman insisting after the race that the FIA haven’t learnt from the death of Jules Bianchi.
Bianchi crashed under a recovery vehicle at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, which was also in wet conditions.
The Frenchman sadly died in 2015, after succumbing to his injuries.
The race was red-flagged almost immediately after Gasly nearly hit the tractor; however, was awarded a 20-second time penalty and two penalty points after the race for speeding when the red flags were flown.
Gasly was visibly livid during the interval, where he was clearly disturbed by what had almost happened.
When the race did eventually restart, the Frenchman could only salvage P17, in what was a day he’ll want to quickly forget.