Pierre Gasly slapped with ‘unacceptable’ penalty, facing race ban

Pierre Gasly almost drove into a tractor on the second lap of the 2022 Japanese GP.

Somewhat astonishingly and unsurprisingly given the lack of consistency the FIA have demonstrated in 2022, Pierre Gasly has been awarded a 20-second time penalty and two penalty points, after being deemed to have driven too quickly under red flag conditions.

The penalty awarded to Gasly follows an investigation into whether the Frenchman drove too quickly following an incident that involved Carlos Sainz, who crashed heavily on the outside of Turn 12 in what were extremely challenging conditions.

Gasly was forced into the pits at the end of the opening lap after hitting some advertising boarding which fell onto the circuit following Sainz’s crash, which broke the AlphaTauri driver’s front-wing.

The stop left him well behind the pack; however, with the rest of the field being behind a Safety Car, the Frenchman began to close up on the field.

READ: ‘Get out of the way’: George Russell’s near-miss with Pierre Gasly at Suzuka

However, to his shock, a tractor had been released onto the circuit to recover Sainz’s car.

The Frenchman was absolutely teething, with the FIA having seemingly learned nothing from Jules Bianchi’s crash in 2014 at the Japanese GP, where the driver crashed under a recovery driver.

Bianchi sadly died from the injuries sustained from the crash, with a replica having nearly happened to Gasly on the second lap.

He was immediately shouting over his team radio, in what was without a shadow of a doubt “unacceptable”.

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“What the?? What the?? What is this tractor?? What is this tractor on track?” said Gasly over team radio.

“I passed next to it… This is unacceptable. What just happened? I can’t believe this.”

The footage of the incident wasn’t actually seen until the red flag interval, with it becoming the main talking point whilst the drivers waited for the conditions to improve.

Whilst it can be argued that Gasly was driving too quickly, a tractor on a live circuit is simply incomprehensible.

Lando Norris took to Twitter during the interval to share his thoughts on the incident.

“Wtf. How’s this happened!?” Norris wrote.

“We lost a life in this situation years ago. We risk our lives, especially in conditions like this, We wanna race, But this… Unacceptable.”

The stewards gave the following reasoning as to why they summoned Gasly to the stewards, with the focus being on his speed rather than the recovery vehicle being on a live circuit whilst driver visibility was poor.

“Car 10 reached speeds of up to 250km/h [155mph] when completing the lap under the red flag after passing the scene of the incident,” said the document that summoned Gasly.

Due to the outrage that Gasly was set to see the stewards, the FIA intervened and released a statement of their own, which read:

“In relation to the recovery of the incident on lap three, the safety car had been deployed and the race neutralized.

“Car 10 [Gasly], which had collected damage and pitted behind the safety car, was then driving at high speed to catch up to the field.

READ: Alex Albon chimes in on Japanese GP debate

“As conditions were deteriorating, the red flag was shown before car 10 passed the location of the incident where it had been damaged the previous lap.”

Following Gasly’s incident where the Frenchman believed he was just a few metres from death, the 26-year-old was awarded a 20-second time penalty and two penalty points, taking his 12-month total to nine.

Should he exceed 12, then he’ll face a race ban.