Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Imola, 2021

Tsunoda’s qualifying crash broke his gearbox in half

2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton says that Yuki Tsunoda’s qualifying shunt which doomed him to a back-row start for the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix is a “part of the rookie journey” in Formula 1.

The Japanese driver lost control of his car at the Variante Alta chicane on his first flying lap in qualifying, spinning into the tyre barriers and destroying the rear of his AT02.

Egginton says that he has “no doubts” that Tsunoda would have reached the final top 10 shoot-out in qualifying had it not been for his session-ending error.

“Unfortunately, Yuki was a little bit too… I think his words were ‘excited’ and he got a bit greedy on the throttle and spun the car around and smacked it into a wall,” says Egginton. “But I have no doubt he could have featured in the top ten given his performance up to now here.”

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Imola, 2021
Tsunoda crashed heavily at Variante Alta
The damage to Tsunoda’s AT02 was extensive, despite the relatively low impact speed of the collision.

“The gearbox broke in half, so that’s finished,” said Egginton yesterday. “Power unit – we’re having a good look through now and see what’s gone on. And rear suspension, rear wing, et cetera, bodywork. But the chassis seems okay at the moment. So not too bad, but it’ll keep the mechanics busy tonight and tomorrow morning.”

The error had major consequences for Tsunoda’s weekend, but Egginton said it was an uncharacteristic mistake by the newcomer.

“I think it’s fair to say he’s been reasonably measured up to now,” said Egginton. “The lap started well – he was not wayward earlier in the lap or doing anything that was ridiculous. He’s just got on the throttle a little bit early over the kerb and it’s all gone away from him.

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“I think it’s just one of those things that happens with a young driver when early in their career. I think any of these guys have all had these incidents. So I don’t think it’s a trend of him pushing too hard and going over the top. It just got away from him today.

“In hindsight, he probably could have taken a bit more margin. But that’s part of the rookie journey, isn’t it?”

AlphaTauri showed strong pace over the opening two days of the weekend and Pierre Gasly secured fifth on the grid. Egginton says the team will take an aggressive approach this afternoon to maximise their points-scoring potential.

“We might have to be creative with Yuki. In both cases, we want to be aggressive with both drivers. We don’t want to be settling for anything less than we think we can do. I wouldn’t go as far as to say exactly what we’re thinking of, but we’ll be aggressive with both of them.”

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2021 Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix

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Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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8 comments on “Tsunoda’s qualifying crash broke his gearbox in half”

  1. Things like that happen, he’s young, he’s rookie. His attitude is mature, and he’s fast. If Yuki makes the right choices, he’ll have long and successful career. Positive thing is that Faenza is 15km away – if needed they can do full car rebuild with full factory support, including the dishwasher at the canteen.

    1. IMHO his attitude wasn’t mature at all: he’s been dropping F bombs multiple times on the radio in practice, than crashed out in the first lap of quali with a easy Top 6-7 car.
      He needs to calm down a little bit, still a lot to learn.

      Edit: i reported your comment for mistake, admins.

      1. His attitude us different to his temporary reaction during qualifying. He was very humble and apologetic, even after his first race.

      2. Expect him to swear a lot when someone hits him at the race.

      3. Every driver drops f-bombs on the radio. It’s got nothing to do with maturity.
        How mature were you at 20? How would you have faired with all the pressure and the schedule of an F1 driver at 20?

        Of course he needs te learn. It’s a bit weird you say that if you hold a crash like this against him. They need to find the edge between crash or the fastest lap in their car. At one point a driver will overstep the limit to find that edge.

  2. I feel like everyone has come to the conclusion he’s the next thing since sliced bread already way too soon. It’s odd.

    1. very odd. i’d be amazed if that PU is okay.

  3. Not a monocoque change as the car only sustained damage on the back, but every single PU element + gearbox. He’s already exceeded the ES and CE allocations as a result.

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