Japanese Grand Prix – Pierre Gasly was handed a 20 second penalty and two penalty points post-race for speeding under Red Flag conditions.
At the end of the opening lap of the race Gasly pitted to get a piece of advertising hoarding, that had been knocked onto track after Carlos Sainz’ crash, removed from his front wing and also swapped from the intermediate tyres to the full wets. He emerged back on track well behind the Safety Car and the rest of the field, and then started to close the distance in order to catch up and join the train of cars.
As he was coming up to the scene of Sainz’ crash the race was Red Flagged and moments later Gasly passed a recovery vehicle at the side of the track. The AlphaTauri driver was angry about the vehicle on track over the radio and when he returned to the pits as he felt the conditions and visibility made it much too dangerous to have a vehicle on track as it could’ve easily been involved in an accident.
With Gasly and other drivers complaining about the dangerous situation, and with over two hours of a delay before the race resumed there were many opinions shared on the incident by those in the paddock, commentators and over social media. The FIA then had their say on what happened: “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.”
And the stewards announced that they would be looking at Gasly’s incident at T12, lap 2 after the race. The reason why they would be spending time on it though was that the French driver was alleged to have been speeding under Red Flag conditions.
Pretty sure this shows the race going red just before Gasly reaches the recovery vehicle. It should not be on track until the field was all behind the Safety Car. That's why Gasly was understandably raging #F1 #JapaneseGPhttps://t.co/6kZWUELWIq
— Chris Medland (@ChrisMedlandF1) October 9, 2022
The investigation did take place following the race and it ended with Gasly being given a drive through penalty, which converted to an addition of 20 seconds to his race time, knocking him from P17 to P18, as well as adding two penalty points to his licence as the stewards found he had “exceeded 200 km/h on multiple occasions”.
The stewards said that they took into account that Gasly was not driving as fast as he could’ve been in the conditions and that his shock at seeing the truck on the track could have distracted him from slowing down. They also said that the French driver agreed that he was going too fast in the event that there were marshals or obstacles on the track.
Gasly took to social media afterwards to put forward his position on the investigation and while he took the blame for not slowing down as much as he should in the corners that followed T12, where the crash and the tractor were, he said that he was not going faster than he was allowed under Safety Car conditions and there wasn’t enough time to safely slow down at the crash site after the Red Flag was shown just moments before he arrived there.
“For clarity, as discussed with the stewards,” Gasly posted, “the penalty was given for going too fast between T14 & T15 which isn’t where the tractor was, I slowed down, but not enough and I take the blame for it.
“As for T12, I was respecting the delta time under SC (expected speed during SC) approaching T12, the red flag was then displayed too late for me to react & brake safely with the tractor & marshal right on the racing line.”
The full stewards’ decision read:
“The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 10 (Pierre Gasly) and team representative and reviewed video and telemetry evidence. After passing the scene of the incident, car 10 continued under the red flag situation, at speeds which exceeded 200 km/h on multiple occasions, and which reached 251km/h at one point. The driver conceded that he now understood that there could have been marshals or obstacles on the track, and admitted that he was too fast.
“However, in mitigation of penalty, we take into account that although the speed could not by any measure be regarded as “slow” as required in the regulations, it was slower that the maximum speed that could be achieved under these conditions. We also take into account the shock the driver experienced on seeing a truck on the racing line in the corner of the incident.”