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Japanese Grand Prix 2022

Vettel: F1 'got lucky' in Japan with Sainz and Gasly tractor incidents

Sebastian Vettel listed multiple factors which led up to Pierre Gasly's near miss with a tractor on-track in the Japanese Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel believes Formula 1 "got lucky" in the Japanese Grand Prix with Carlos Sainz Jr's accident and Pierre Gasly's near miss with a tractor.

After Sainz aquaplaned off on the opening lap, the race at a torrentially wet Suzuka was initially placed under the Safety Car to allow for recovery of the stricken Ferrari - which was extremely fortunate not to bounce back onto the racing line after impacting the barrier.

Gasly, who started from the pit-lane in the AlphaTauri was forced into a first lap pit-stop for a new front wing after collecting an advertising hoarding thrown up by the Ferrari hitting the wall.

As the Frenchman tried to make his way back to the rear of the train, the red flag was thrown as conditions worsened, with a recovery tractor sent out to recover Sainz's car.

While the rest of the field filed slowly past the tractor, Gasly sped past at more than 200km/h, frightening a marshal, and spooking himself in the process having not been informed not expecting the presence of the heavy machinery.

2023 Alpine driver Gasly was apoplectic when he got back to the pits as he believed he could have been killed if he aquaplaned like Sainz.

Many drivers, including Gasly, Perez and Lando Norris voiced their dismay at seeing the tractor on the circuit - in similar conditions at the same venue where Jules Bianchi suffered fatal injuries in his accident at the 2014 race.

Post-race, GPDA director Vettel, who finished sixth, explained that a series of events had been a factor in both near misses.

Vettel: F1 lucky in Japan

"I think mainly, what counts today is the fact that Carlos is fine. We had a very strange circumstance, and nothing happened we got away with it, that's the main thing," the four-time World Champion told media.

"There's a lot of things that led to this circumstance which we need to understand: First, the entire grid leaves on the wrong tyre, for which we are all to blame but then no one to blame, because we are all in the same pressure situation; we have an Intermediate tyre tyre that is a lot faster than an extreme Wet tyre.

"The extreme tyre was the tyre for the conditions, but it is so slow that you are pressured to go to the next tyre (Intermediate), so that needs to be improved. It would have solved the problem.

"We are not able to race when there is some water on the track, because the water drainage is probably not good enough. We've known this for years - but then one thing leads to another and then we had a crash with Carlos.

"Visibility is close to none when you're inside the car following in the spray - we're lucky that nothing happened - but we need to understand and make sure that is just must not happen.


Not tractor driver fault

Vettel defended the tractor driver at Suzuka - saying he was only following orders to enter the track.

"It shouldn't shouldn't be there, but then the guys that drive the tractor, they get a command whether they're allowed to go on track or not," Vettel said.

"Like lots of things we need to understand and make sure that we learn from them, because today we were just lucky."

F1 2022 Japanese Grand Prix RN365 News dossier

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