A chaotic start at Suzuka resulted in a red flag when Carlos Sainz crashed on the first lap, but in dangerously wet conditions Gasly then drove narrowly passed a recovery vehicle which was on the track.

He later fumed to his AlphaTauri team - and afterwards remembered how fellow Frenchman Jules Bianchi died after an accident in similar circumstances at the same track in 2014.

After the race, Gasly was handed a drive-through penalty - converted into a 20-second time penalty - for speeding under the red flag. 

The FIA did acknowledge that Gasly was distracted by the tractor on track.

Gasly explained: “We started last so the visibility was extremely poor. Carlos aquaplaned in Turn 12, lost control of the car, and went out.

“As a consequence there was a board that I could not really see. I could not see where I was going so I boxed.

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

“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."

Pierre Gasly: "If I lost the car... I would be dead right now"

“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 tonnes 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.”

Gasly was investigated by stewards for the incident but explained: “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.

“We were all in the pitlane one minute later. Risking my life for one minute? I don’t think it is acceptable.

“There was a crane on the racing line.

“It was two metres away from my front left tyre. I was extremely scared.

“We all suffered from Jules’ accident. If we could go back and change the situation on that day, he would still be here.

“For the future, what I want is for all my colleagues to be safe, in F1 and younger categories. Hopefully we can finally learn from this situation.”

A shortened race was won by Max Verstappen who clinched his second consecutive F1 championship in the process.