The presence of a recovery truck on the track of the Japanese Grand Prix, won this Sunday in the rain by Dutchman Max Verstappen, brought to mind the accident that had caused the death of Frenchman Jules Bianchi on this same Suzuka circuit in 2014.
It was the controversy of the 2022 Japanese Grand Prix that unanimously angered the paddock: on the second lap of the race, Pierre Gasly (AlphaTauri) was surprised to see a recovery truck on the track, signaled by its flashing light as the Wet conditions were particularly difficult for the pilots. The incident occurred under a red flag as the drivers were returning to the pits, in pouring rain and with very poor visibility.
For the drivers, with Gasly in the lead, the presence of this truck reminded them of the tragic circumstances that led to the death of Jules Bianchi, a young French F1 promise, on lap 42 of the Japanese GP on October 5, 2014. rain, Bianchi had lost control of his Marussia at turn 7 and his car had become stuck under a lifting device that ended up evacuating the Sauber of German Adrian Sutil, who had gone off the track on the previous lap.
“I could have killed myself”
The French pilot died after several months in a coma in Nice, his hometown, in July 2015. “No respect for the lives of the pilots, no respect for the memory of Jules, incredible”Immediately reacted on Instagram his father Philippe Bianchi, screenshot of the incident in support. “This is unacceptable! How is this possible? I can’t believe it”angered Gasly still behind the wheel of his car in an on-camera sequence from F1TV. “I could have killed myself!”he added a little later, once back at his booth. “It is disrespectful to Jules, to his entire family.declared after the race, very emotional, with Canal +. I’m happy to be alive”.
At the end of the race, the Frenchman, who will join the alpine team next season, was handed a twenty-two-second penalty that dropped him to 18th place. “for continuing to drive over 200 km/h on several occasions under the red flag regime”said the International Automobile Federation (FIA) in a statement. The FIA also announced that it had launched, “as is the case in these circumstances”an in-depth investigation into the deployment of recovery vehicles, “following the testimonies of several pilots”.
“Worse than unacceptable”
It is an understatement to say that the incident shook the paddock. “It’s worse than unacceptable”declared Alfa Romeo team principal Frédéric Vasseur. “Totally unacceptable”Red Bull team boss Christian Horner added to Autosport magazine. “We lost Jules Bianchi here and that should never happen again. There needs to be a thorough investigation into the reason for the presence of a recovery vehicle on the track.”. “Visibility was zero, we know what happened in 2014”commented Charles Leclerc (Ferrari), of which Bianchi was a sports sponsor, also on the microphone of Canal +. “+WTF+. How could this happen? We lost a life in this situation a few years ago. We are risking our lives, especially in these conditions. We want to race. But this… is unacceptable.”Briton Lando Norris (McLaren) tweeted for his part. “How can we make it clear that we never want to see a crane on the track? We lost Jules because of this mistake. What happened today is totally unacceptable! This is the last time I see a crane on the track!”Sergio Pérez (Red Bull) added a tweet.
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