Pierre Gasly, the French Formula One driver, was fortunate to escape punishment over a first-lap collision with his teammate Esteban Ocon during the Australian Grand Prix. Gasly was initially under investigation by the stewards for what appeared to be a drifting maneuver that led to a significant collision. After reviewing telemetry data and footage from multiple angles, the stewards ultimately cleared Gasly of any wrongdoing.
The accident occurred following a restart, with Gasly locking up his brakes as he attempted to round the first turn. After missing the rear of Fernando Alonso, Gasly lost control of his car and drifted over the course. In doing so, he ended up in contact with Ocon, a fellow Frenchman, who was also eliminated from the race as a result of the incident.
Before the ruling was made, there were concerns that Gasly could have been hit with a race ban, as he already had 10 of the required 12 points on his license for a suspension. Regardless, the stewards cleared him of any wrongdoing, stating that it was a first-lap racing incident, and therefore no further action was warranted.
Investigators used video footage, telemetry and car data to determine their ruling. They also interviewed Gasly and Ocon, as well as team representatives. It was established that both drivers agreed that the incident was unintentional and, therefore, did not warrant any further investigation. The outcome was a significant relief for Gasly, who will not have any points retroactively deducted from his license due to previous incidents during races where he was considered to have driven too dangerously.
However, the incident reignited conversations about the need to update the rules regarding penalties for less egregious incidents. This is necessary to avoid the possibility that drivers could be disqualified or relegated to a lower ranking in the race.