Formula 1 drivers left smoking because of tractor on track in Japanese Grand Prix – Watch

Red Bull Max Verstappen has secured a second consecutive driver’s title by winning the Japanese Grand Prix. However, the entire race was nearly overshadowed by an incident where Alpha Tauri’s Pierre Gasly drove dangerously close to a tractor on the track that infuriated the driver.

The tractor was used to recover Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz’s car after the Spaniard crashed in heavy rain on a chaotic first lap. Videos show Gasly passing the tractor, which was dangerously close to the racing line. Other footage also showed marshals were also on the track and one had gotten out of the way seconds before Gasly passed through.

The race was red flagged on lap three and resumed no more than an hour later as it continued to rain. The incident brought back memories of French driver Jules Bianchi’s horrific accident at the same track in 2014. Bianchi, who drove for the Marussia F1 Team, had collided with a tractor crane that was recovering a car at the time. He underwent emergency surgery and was placed in an artificial coma, but never recovered and died in July 2015, making him the first driver since Brazilian great Ayrton Senna in 1994 to die as a result of an accident on the Formula 1 track.

Gasly called Sunday’s incident “unacceptable”. “We lost Jules eight years ago in similar circumstances, with a crane on the track in the gravel,” said the Frenchman. “I don’t understand how eight years later, under similar circumstances, we can see a crane – not even in the gravel, on the racing line. It’s disrespectful to Jules, his family, or his loved ones, or all of us.”

Other drivers also asked for an explanation of how the tractor was on the track, despite Gasly still having to pass. Gasly attempted to reach the field behind the safety car, after making a pit stop to remove a billboard that had stuck to the front of his car after Sainz detached it in his crash.

“Under any circumstances, we should never see a crane on the track while the cars are out there,” said Red Bull’s Sergio Perez, who finished second. “You don’t know what could happen. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are – it just shouldn’t ever happen.”

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner was among those calling for a full investigation into the incident.

“We lost Jules Bianchi here eight years ago and that should never happen. There must be a full investigation into why there was a recovery vehicle on the track,” he told Sky Sports F1.

Sainz said: “Even behind a safety car we go at 100 or 150 km/h and still we don’t see anything at those speeds.

“I still don’t know why under these circumstances we keep taking the risk of having a tractor on the track. You would be giving a red flag anyway, so why take the risk?”

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