The father of the late Jules Bianchi has unleashed an emotional tirade directed at the FIA after AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly endured a damning near-miss with a tractor at the Japanese Grand Prix on the weekend.
During Sunday afternoon’s race, Gasly started from the pit lane and was attempting to catch up to the rest of the grid when he zoomed past the recovery vehicle which had entered the track to clear Carlos Sainz’s Ferrari.
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The Frenchman unleashed over the team radio as fans watching on couldn’t quite believe the incident had unfolded with red flags waving only a split second before Gasly went past.
“What is this? What is this tractor on track?! I passed next to it,” he said.
“This is unacceptable. Remember what has happened. Can’t believe this.
“I could have f***ing killed myself.”
The scary near-miss brought back memories from eight years ago at Suzuka when Bianchi crashed into the back of a tractor and tragically lost his life.
Bianchi’s father, Philippe, has since accused the FIA of disrespecting the memory of his son.
“I saw the accident on social media and obviously I have a lot, a lot of anger. It’s unbelievable,” he told RMC Sport.
“They’re telling Pierre he was driving too fast. That’s laughable. This is what they would have said to Jules as well.
“I said to myself, ‘But where is the respect for Jules? For his family, his supporters and the other drivers?’
“They’re not cannon fodder. Nothing justifies giving the order (to send the tractor onto the track at that time).
“I think I’m going to write to the FIA because I don’t want this to continue. I don’t want there to be another accident of this kind tomorrow.
“If Jules is gone, at the very least that has to serve some purpose.”
Gasly was summoned to attend a post-race hearing with the stewards, who ultimately handed the 26-year-old a drive-through penalty (20 seconds) for speeding under red flags.
The AlphaTauri driver also received two penalty points on his Super License, which takes him up to nine over a 12-month period.
After the race, Gasly was dumbfounded as to how, eight years on, a tractor was allowed on the track with cars still driving around, labelling it “disrespectful” to the memory of Bianchi.
“We lost Jules already. We all lost an amazing guy – eight years ago on the same track in the same conditions with a crane,” Gasly told Sky Sports.
“How today can we see a crane not even in the gravel, on the racetrack, while we are still on the track. I don’t understand that.
“Obviously I got scared. If I lost the car in a similar way as Carlos before. It doesn’t matter the speed 200, 100km/h. I would have just died. Simple as that.
“It’s disrespectful to Jules, disrespectful to his family and all of us. We are risking our life out there. We are doing the best job in the world but what we are asking is at least keep us safe.
“It’s already dangerous enough and today I just feel it was unnecessary. We could have waited one more minute to get back in the pit lane and then put the tractors on track.
“I’m just extremely grateful that I’m here and tonight I’m going to call my family. If I was two metres to the left I would have been dead.
“We’ve got a lap time in the steering and I was still nine seconds slower than that. This is not fair because I was doing everything correctly. That crane should not have been there.
“If I would have been dead right how, if I crashed, what’s the outcome? I don’t think any tractor should be on the racetrack.
“They’re probably going to say I’m wrong and it’s probably going to be all my mistake. What I care about is my colleagues and in the future we don’t face this sort of situation.
“Because if I aquaplaned like Carlos did the lap before, I would not be standing here and there would be another one after Jules.
“Jules was already painful and I don’t think it’s respectful towards him and his family.”