Valtteri Bottas says drivers will have internal discussion over Japan controversy

Pierre Gasly was fortunate to escape his close call with a recovery vehicle at the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix.

Alfa Romeo’s Valtteri Bottas has told the FIA that they were extremely fortunate to avoid a more serious consequence after they deployed a recovery vehicle at last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix.

In 2014, Jules Bianchi was involved in a fatal accident in Japan when a crane was sent out to collect Adrian Sutil’s crashed Sauber.

There were local yellows, so the recovery vehicle was next to a live circuit, and Bianchi’s Marussia crashed underneath the crane, ultimately taking his life.

Last weekend, at the same race, Carlos Sainz lost control of his Ferrari in extremely wet conditions, spinning into the wall and causing a red flag.

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However, the drivers were not made aware of the fact that a crane had been sent onto the circuit in terrible visibility, so regardless of whether their speed was controlled by a red flag, they had no idea it was there until they drove past it.

Gasly barely missed the truck as he made his way through, in a repeat of the negligence that had killed Bianchi eight years prior.

The FIA penalised Gasly for speeding at a different part of the circuit, but did not even seem to acknowledge the vehicle they had sent out until after the race, when they started a review.

The fact that everyone missed the crane was potluck, so Bottas reckons it will be a key topic at the drivers’ briefing at the United States Grand Prix.

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“I’m sure it is going to be a discussion for the next drivers’ meeting,” he said.

“But it definitely shouldn’t happen and I think we’re lucky that nothing more serious happened to anyone.”

Sebastian Vettel had warned race control about sending people onto the track in the build-up to the weekend after marshals were immediately on the scene of Yuki Tsunoda’s crash in Singapore.

Despite the German’s concerns being raised right before the event, race control still decided to risk the safety of the drivers and the marshals by putting a crane onto the circuit.

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“The latest we have spoken about having people on track or cranes or anything was in Singapore,” explained Bottas. 

“We were surprised how quickly some of the marshals went to aid Tsunoda. It was not yet VSC and there were people on the track and it was a similar thing here.”

Bottas finished the race 15th last weekend after struggling to make up positions having fallen back from 12th on the grid.