Former Formula 1 drivers, Karun Chandhok and Paul di Resta, received retorts from fans after they suggested Pierre Gasly was partially at fault for his near miss with a recovery vehicle in Japan.
At the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, Jules Bianchi was involved in a collision with a crane that had been sent out to retrieve Adrian Sutil’s Sauber, and he passed away after several months in hospital.
The Virtual Safety Car was created in response to the horrible accident, and recovery vehicles being sent out on track in uncontrolled conditions has been intensely frowned upon since.
On Sunday, however, race control decided to allow a crane to enter the racetrack to collect the crashed Ferrari of Carlos Sainz.
The intense aquaplaning on a wet first lap had led the Spaniard to slide into the wall, and the visibility was such that the drivers could barely see the vehicle on the racing line.
Onboard shots appeared to suggest that the truck had started making its way onto the circuit before the red flag was deployed, belittling the legacy and pivotal influence of Bianchi’s accident.
Gasly was fuming on the radio afterwards, but he has since been penalised by the stewards for speeding under red flag conditions.
The Frenchman affirmed that he was sticking to his delta time, and stated that the recovery vehicle should never have been out on track.
During the fleg flag period, the Sky team wanted to add some context to the incident, and it was posited that the AlphaTauri driver should not have been travelling so quickly in the first place.
“He’s pushing on, you can listen here and he’s going a lot faster than anyone else is on track,” said Chandhok.
Di Resta noted that Gasly had been traversing the scene of Sainz’s crash at a higher speed than his colleagues.
“I think when he looks back at his onboard camera, he is considerably quicker than the other cars passing that incident,” said the Briton.
“It’s double-waved yellow [flags] and then the red, we know this from junior formula racing, you have to go at a speed at which you can be prepared to stop… and he is quite clearly going a lot quicker than anyone else was,” added Chandhok.
They went on to clarify that the recovery vehicle ought not to have been on the racetrack, but they maintained that Gasly should take some responsibility.
Their comments led to plenty of criticism online, with some suggesting that the pundits should be sacked for their analysis, which was described as a “disgrace.”
Another suggested that the broadcaster was “scapegoating” Gasly after the governing body risked the lives of the marshals and the drivers, but others conceded that the pair had a “valid point,” and that Gasly ought not to have been driving as quickly as he was.
The Rouen-born driver said after the race that the FIA disrespected Bianchi by making the same mistake that led to the former Marussia driver’s death, and that, if he had been two metres to the left when he passed the truck, he might have been killed.