Mass condemnation of errant Japanese Grand Prix recovery tractor led by Jules Bianchi's father

The father of Jules Bianchi led the widespread condemnation of a recovery tractor being out on track as Pierre Gasly suffered a near-miss at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix.

Eight years on from Bianchi dying from injuries suffered after crashing into a similar vehicle here at Suzuka, history almost repeated itself with the AlphaTauri of Gasly.

The Frenchman claimed he too could have been killed as a series of events led to him driving past a recovery vehicle at a speed which later saw him hauled in front of the stewards. The FIA have since said they would investigate the incident.

With the race starting under heavy rain, Gasly had collected a piece of advertising barrier and pitted at the end of lap one as a safety car was deployed to allow Carlos Sainz's stricken Ferrari to be cleared away following a crash, with a red flag soon halting the race.

As Gasly attempted to catch the other drivers, he passed a recovery vehicle that had been sent out with no message being relayed to the field.

Gasly had a 20-second penalty applied to his race for speeding under a red flag, relegating him to 18th and last of the classified runners - but he was left fuming by the events.

"We lost Jules eight years ago in similar conditions, with a crane on track in the gravel," he said.

"I don't understand how eight years later, in similar conditions, we can see a crane. Not even in the gravel, on the racing line!

"It is not respectful to Jules, his family or his loved ones, or all of us. It was a dramatic incident. On that day we learned that we don't want to see tractors in these conditions.

"If I lost the car in the same way that Carlos lost his car on the lap before? I was doing 200kph, but even at 100kph, it's a 12-tonne crane. If I hit it, I would be dead right now.

"I am extremely grateful that I am still standing. Still able to call my family, my loved ones, and nothing happened.

"For all us drivers - I hope this is the last time we see a crane.

"I tried to slow down, not in an erratic manner, because if I slammed the brake, I would have lost the car and ended up in the crane.

"I was two metres away from passing away today, which isn't acceptable as a racing driver."

Bianchi's father Philippe posted on Instagram shortly after the incident, circling the recovery vehicle in a screenshot of Gasly's onboard camera with the caption: "No respect for the life of the driver no respect for Jules memory incredible."

View this post on InstagramA post shared by Philippe Bianchi (@philippe_bianchi17)

Others up and down the pitlane were also angered by the incident, Sebastian Vettel taking to the Aston Martin team radio to declare: "Next time, they should inform us if there's a frickin' tractor on the road. I know we're under Safety Car, but in turn 12, there's this…"

The FIA issued a statement on the location of the recovery vehicle, which said: "In relation to the recovery of the incident on Lap 3, the Safety Car had been deployed and the race neutralised.

"Car 10, which had collected damage and pitted behind the Safety Car, was then driving at high speed to catch up to the field.

"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."

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner feels a full investigation needs to be carried out.

He told Sky Sports: "It is totally unacceptable.

"We lost Jules Bianchi here and that (a recovery vehicle on track) should never ever happen so there needs to be a full investigation why there was because it obviously shouldn't have been… it is extremely dangerous. We've got lucky so far."

Meanwhile, McLaren's Lando Norris tweeted: "Wtf. How's this happened!? We lost a life in this situation years ago.

"We risk our lives, especially in conditions like this. We wanna race. But this… Unacceptable."

George Russell also condemned the tractor on the track.

He tweeted: "Firstly, huge congrats to Max (Verstappen) on the title: very much deserved.

"Secondly, thank you to the fans who stayed out in the rain. A shame we couldn't make a better race of it, but your support was incredible.

"Finally, a tractor should never be on a circuit when race cars are…never!"

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