Pierre Gasly says a combination of being in the wrong place at the wrong time led to the near-miss between himself and Lewis Hamilton during Japanese Grand Prix practice.

Hamilton was forced to take evasive action in opening practice when he came across a slow-moving Gasly on the racing line on entry to the final chicane – one of the fastest points of the circuit.

Friday pacesetter Hamilton ran wide and across the artificial grass having narrowly avoided Gasly, with the Toro Rosso driver picking up his second reprimand of the season for the incident to move on the brink of receiving a 10-place grid penalty.

“I was really slow because I was preparing my lap and then my engineer told me Lewis was five or six seconds behind me before the quick left-hander,” Gasly said.

“When I passed it I had a car in front of me really slow, so I slow down as I thought I had time with the five second gap.

“But the thing was I was at 60kph and by the time I got the message that I was five or six seconds and I think Lewis was already down to 3 seconds or 2.5 because he was at 300kph and I was at 60kph.

“By the time I saw him in the mirror coming of course I knew I was screwed already because I was on the left side and to turn [off the racing line] at that point he would be really surprised and there might be something even bigger.

“I tried to close on the left, I even put one tyre on the grass and I think that was the safest thing to do at that point but I blocked him. It was just a bit of a bad situation.”

The Frenchman feels it would be “harsh” for him to receive a 10-place grid penalty for another next infringement and reckons his incident was only magnified because it caught on camera.

“I was in a bad place but it happens all the time,” he added. “I had it with Fernando in FP1 and a couple of other drivers that don’t get reprimanded so just if you are camera at that time and you get caught and then that’s the kind of penalty you get.

“If I get a 10-place grid penalty for something like this I think it’s a bit harsh. Honestly it was not a big deal in the end I understand that I blocked him but it was not my intention of course.

“We spoke about it and every year it’s the same thing. It’s really tough and actually it’s still not clear in the way.”

But Gasly does not think the issue will prove to be so problematic come qualifying as long as drivers find themselves running a similar sequence at the same time.

“The cool down laps are so slow with the tyres, we are probably 45 seconds slower than on a push lap and it just makes it super difficult if you are not in the same sequence as the others.

“That’s why we saw it in practice with a lot of similar situations. I think in qualifying it won’t be such a problem because we are all going to start and finish our laps at the same time except if you are out of sequence, then you could be in big trouble.

“I think Q1 will be tough because you have so many cars on track but I don’t think it will be as bad as in practice.”

 

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