The first Japanese Grand Prix since 2019 will be remembered for all the wrong reasons, despite Max Verstappen having claimed his second World Championship after claiming what was his 12th victory of the season.
Whilst already being under pressure for a lack of consistency throughout the season and ahead of Monday’s budget cap announcement, the FIA were thrown into further turmoil following one of the worst decisions in the modern history of Formula 1.
It was a race filled with errors by the FIA, who started the race whilst the already falling rain had suddenly intensified considerably.
Drivers in the midfield likened themselves to “pinballs”, after driving across the circuit to try and find the edges of the Suzuka International Racing Course, which they were unable to see due to the spray reducing visibility to “10 metres”.
Standing water was also a huge problem on the opening lap, something Carlos Sainz found out at Turn 12.
The Ferrari driver unfortunately aquaplaned over one of the many rivers that ran across the circuit, which as a result, saw the Spaniard slide across the circuit before heavily crashing into the barrier on the outside of the corner.
Sainz’s car came to rest on the edge of the circuit, whilst some of the advertising boarding which he struck fell onto the circuit.
This was hit by Pierre Gasly, who pitted at the end of the lap as a result.
For some unknown reason, the FIA decided to allow a recovery vehicle and a marshal onto the circuit whilst it was still live, to collect Sainz’s stricken F1-75.
The visibility first of all meant that drivers were unable to see the recovery vehicle until they were virtually alongside it, whilst the marshal was completely unseen when re-watching onboards from the race.
Gasly got the fright of his life when he entered Turn 12 some way behind the rest of the pack who were being led by a Safety Car, where he went within “metres” of driving straight into the back of the recovery vehicle after being unable to see it.
The Frenchman insisted that the incident, which he believed saw him come close to “death”, proved that the FIA haven’t learnt from Jules Bianchi’s tragic incident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix.
At the 2014 Japanese GP, Bianchi crashed underneath a recovery vehicle in similar miserable conditions, and sadly died in 2015 due to the injuries sustained in the horrifying crash.
It has since been revealed that it wasn’t just Gasly who came close to death, with the marshal that was recovering Sainz’s car having been seen on the Spaniard’s onboard camera having to jump out of the way of a speedy Gasly.
The FIA have revealed that they are going to investigate what happened during the incident, which could’ve been one of the darkest days in F1 history.
Gasly was awarded a 20-second time penalty and two penalty points after the race for speeding under red flag conditions, which occurred the moment the AlphaTauri driver went past the marshal.
Drivers, team principals, and thousands of fans have demanded answers from the FIA over why they allowed a marshal and a tractor onto the circuit, on a day which should be remembered for Verstappen’s glory, not the FIA’s failure.