Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Circuit Zandvoort, 2022

Tsunoda to get 10-place penalty for Italian GP after reprimand over seatbelts

2022 Dutch Grand Prix

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The FIA is expected to confirm a 10-place grid penalty for Yuki Tsunoda at next week’s Italian Grand Prix after he collected his fifth reprimand of the year.

A 10-place grid penalty is automatically issued to any driver who collects five reprimands, at least four of which must be for driving infringements, over the course of a season.

Tsunoda was given his fifth reprimand of the season this year for driving with loosened seatbelts during today’s Dutch Grand Prix. It occured after the AlphaTauri driver stopped his car, suspecting a wheel was loose, then was told by his team to return to the pits.

As he arrived in the pits, Tsunoda told his team his belts needed to be tightened. He subsequently returned to the circuit, stopped on-track and retired. This prompted an investigation by the stewards.

“After a pit stop of car 22 [Tsunoda] the driver stopped the car due to the fact that he felt a wheel being not properly fitted,” the stewards explained in a statement. “The investigation by the stewards led to the conclusion that in fact there was a problem with the differential. Therefore the car was not in an unsafe condition when released from its pit stop position.

“However, during the hearing the driver admitted that after stopping on-track he was ready to abandon the car and started to loosen the safety belt, without unlocking it. After that he travelled back to the pits where the mechanics re-fastened the belts. It is not possible, to determine exactly to which degree the seatbelt had been loosened by the driver.”

Tsunoda was given a non-driving reprimand for the incident. As he already has four driving reprimands – three for impeding rivals and one for driving too slowly on an in-lap – he will receive a grid penalty for next weekend’s race at Monza.

Tsunoda would have collected his penalty much earlier under last year’s rules. The threshold of reprimands needed to trigger a penalty was increased from three to five this year.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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54 comments on “Tsunoda to get 10-place penalty for Italian GP after reprimand over seatbelts”

  1. I guess it is good that they actually do something when a driver drives with a (possibly) not wholly fixed seat belt?

    Shame they let it slip last year with Leclerc (wasn’t it even on 2 occasions? Or was that 2 years back already). But I guess that is down to the current management at the FIA being very keen on following the rules to the letter.

    1. @bascb
      Leclerc drove an unsafe car twice in the 2019 Japanese GP and the 2020 Spanish GP. The first incident was after the contact with Max at the start and debris were flying from his car and hitting Hamilton as a result. The second incident was when he drove for 2 laps without seatbelts.

    2. @bascb It must be the new brooms sweeping clean, which could be an issue given that as far as I can tell the regulations themselves have not been updated.

      @tifoso1989 Leclerc’s only done the seatbelt issue once (2020 Spanish GP) and it was allowed back then because the only methods to actually penalise the action – black flag and black-and-orange flag – both required crossing the start/finish line after someone noticed the problem (since that’s the only place where the relevant flag can be waved). Come to think of it, that might be why the new brooms swept clean…

      1. @alianora-la-canta
        Thanks for the detailed comment !

      2. Or you know these new Race Directors have in general read the rule book and applied it as written.

        There’s been a few incidents this year with a defence of “well it wasn’t a problem last year”.

        They’ve very much taken the attitude of “we don’t make the rules, we apply the rules” – which is the correct way to go about it. Rather than trying to fix the rules yourself ad-hoc as the season goes on.

    3. Thanks both of you @tifoso1989 and @alianora-la-canta for filling in the details!

  2. That’s too little. I’m not saying that Alpha Tauri did it on purpose (why would they?) but it was pretty irresponsible.

  3. Do you have the message of horner or marko ordering them to keep tsunoda out?

  4. He didn’t loosen them, he undid them. I used to race FF2000; impossible to buckle yourself back up, that’s why the pit crew had to refasten him. If he had just loosened the shoulder straps (the only ones you can adjust yourself) he could have just pulled them tight. He was planning on bailing out of the car and released the center catch with no way to redo the belts, especially the crotch straps. A deserved penalty.

    1. You cannot get the necessary leverage in the tight confines of the cockpit to sufficiently tighten your own seatbelts as much as they need to be for racing at speed.

    2. This.
      It’s clear that he undid his seatbelts and didn’t just loosen them.

      – The mechanics spent 26 seconds working on them, which is totally inconsistent with the time it should take to tighten them – which would be about 10x faster than that, as you just grab the excess and pull down hard. Particularly if you’re right about a driver being able to loosen only the shoulder straps, which I belive you are. (Though I believe you’re wrong about the driver being able to tighten them himself, as pastaman said).

      – And why would he have only loosened them? They are designed to be undone extremely quickly in an emergency, so it’s not necessary to loosen them before undoing them.

      He plainly lied to the stewards about this, and they should have seen through that lie and penalised him more for attempting to lie to them. His body language in the interview looked shifty, and I think he was at least trying to cover up for that.

  5. Christian Russell
    5th September 2022, 5:43

    I’m sure Horner messaged George in his car to tell him to pit for softs, Red Bull fixing the race to make sure Lewis loses podium at all cost! F1xation!

  6. Unsurprising, but a team fine for sending him out again with the car in unsafe condition should also come.

    1. Especially as they sent him out just to help VER with the VSC. That was their sole intention. No other team would risk further damages in this situation without any chance of points. This was pure RBR b-team strategy.

  7. It is almost as if the sister RedBull team was working hard to create conspiracy theories as within a few days they create situations which benefit the senior RedBull team. First they manage to have both cars start in the pit lane and so, in effect, promoting Verstappen up the grid, then manage to create a chaotic situation which totally crushes the Mercedes strategy which was, until then, going so well.

    Cockup is always more likely than conspiracy (although conspiracy is not unknown in race fixing, ask Briatori) but what a masterclass in cockup Alpha Tauri have become!

    1. why no massive fine for AT for a releasing a unsafe car back onto the track putting driver safety in danger? It was their incompetence verging on negligence that caused Yuki to have this issue especially when other drivers like LEC didn’t get a penalty for seatbelt infraction.
      More confusion and double standards from the FIA.

      Its clear that AT wanted to retire Yuki on track at all cost to force a vsc/sc to give a free pit to max in the sister team who has not pitted yet. Just like the farce at AD in 2021 liberty media will lean on the FIA to sweep the issue under the carpet and use the Japanese driver as a scapegoat.

      Also no surprise the anti Lewis spammers posting here calling anyone that dare question this incident as unhinged crazy conspiracy theorist. I guess its ok to break the rules and meddle in the race procedure only when when it harms Lewis(!)

      1. Do you ever read your own comments? Unhinged conspiracy theorist is only a start.
        Does everything really become that much clearer with foil on your head?

        There was no way Hamilton was winning that race regardless of Tsunoda’s issue or retirement.

        Bahrain’s 2021 track limits saga wants to remind you about changing rules and race procedure… I think several technical regulations alterations and ‘clarifications’ over the last 8 years would also like a word.

        1. Maybe put your orange glasses off, before spamming your HAM hate.

      2. Also no surprise the anti Lewis spammers posting here calling anyone that dare question this incident as unhinged crazy conspiracy theorist. I guess its ok to break the rules and meddle in the race procedure only when when it harms Lewis(!)

        So you should be allowed to be suspicious about the proceedings in the race yesterday, but then you’re not allowed to question those who are suspicious? Whoah.

  8. I don’t believe there was any conspiracy here, just incompetence on Alpha Tauri’s part. I feel for Yuki as his perception that the car needed to be parked was 100% correct.

    However, for those of you saying that Red Bull, or any other team, would not be so stupid as to do something like this, bear in mind that it has only been 3 years since Ferrari (allegedly) breached fuel-flow regulations by intentionally increasing the amount of fuel that was pumped, but only doing so between fuel sensor readings. Nobody in their right mind would see this as a ‘grey area’ and the fact that it was dealt with behind closed doors made the whole thing stink.

    Just to repeat, I do not suspect any wrongdoing by Alpha Tauri/Red Bull or Tsunoda BUT that doesn’t mean that teams won’t cheat.

    1. Agreed. I think it’s everyone’s right to question the proceedings and to look into it. The problem lies when opinions are presented as facts and people assume people’s or team’s bad intentions without evidence.

  9. I don’t think it’s a conspiracy but AT should have gotten a penalty in order to dissuade any teams to even think about manipulating a race that way.
    FIA love rules so there’s a new one: Causing an unnecessary safety car. Punishment 10.000 Euro up to a three race ban 😉

    1. Preemptive penalties for any competitor who does anything that ‘fans’ can misconstrue as deliberate, eh?

      Why do so many comments start with “I don’t think it was a conspiracy, but….” and then go on to explain how Alpha Tauri and/or Tsunoda should be further punished?

      1. Well, ok. It WAS no conspiracy BECAUSE they could just have left Tsunoda stranded on track in the first place and not try to bring him back to the pits. But a penalty for AT would not be preemptive because they unnecessarily send a car back out in an unsafe condition without checking it. That lead the driver to stop (again) on track which triggered a safety car.
        It was not malicious, only clumsy.
        The problem is that nowadays it’s easy to mess around with safety cars and yellow flags because they tend to appear far more quickly than before. I’m afraid it’s only a matter of time until someone is desperate or unscrupulous enough to exploit that.
        IMHO it would be wise to think ahead and create a precedent, because when it actually does happen it’s difficult to prove bad faith.

        1. But a penalty for AT would not be preemptive because they unnecessarily send a car back out in an unsafe condition without checking it.

          I don’t think that a mis-fitted wheel is implausible…. It happens several times each year in F1.
          Some people are applying the benefit hindsight here now. Where has Alpha Tauri confirmed that they knew it was a diff problem and not a bad wheel change, before sending the car out for the final time.

          They probably suspected – I’d absolutely be surprised if they didn’t because they should – but they’d need to be pretty confident of it to justify the theories here.

          I’m afraid it’s only a matter of time until someone is desperate or unscrupulous enough to exploit that.

          Yeah, probably. It’s certainly happened on multiple occasions before.
          A lot more than most people will ever know about. But that’s elite sport – these shenanigans go on in most sports, particularly when there is so much money and power involved.

          IMHO it would be wise to think ahead and create a precedent, because when it actually does happen it’s difficult to prove bad faith.

          But the rules have already done that. There are already rules that cover off deliberate acts of sabotage and bringing the sport into disrepute (by cheating or manipulating the competition, among other things).
          Not only that, some of them are allowed – encouraged even. Team orders that directly alter results are extremely common and are absolutely in breach of F1’s sporting regulations and the ISC. But yet they are treated as totally legal at the same time.
          It’s all a big messy grey area, and will forever be.

        2. @roadrunner Have you not heard of Singapore 2008?

  10. When Mateschitz acquired two teams there was a big hubaloo about how could this be fair? Blue flags weren’t as strictly enforced back then, what if the sister team held up the main teams rivals? All kinds of scenarios were hypothesised where the sister wouldn’t be playing fair.

    Mateschitz stated that there would be some information sharing (Torro Rosso using year old designs initially), but at the race track they were completely independent. And I think he’s been true to his word.

    We’ve had about 300 grand prix since then, how many times has it come up? Almost never. And the laws of probability mean that over such a period of time – eventually something would happen at Alpha Tauri that would benefit Red Bull in a race. It had to happen at some point.

    But more to the point – why start now? Max is whistling and skipping over the sunset with the title. There’s been at least two Abu Dhabi races that instantly spring to mind that would have been much more beneficial to pull the stunt.

    Yuki just retired at a good time for Max. And if the stewards themselves confirmed it was a broken differential. It is very hard to break a differential and just the right time from the pit wall.

    1. Despite what Perez told us we could also add that spin to the list of conspiracies to thwart both Mercs during qualifying.

    2. @bernasaurus I agree that Yuki’s car just happened to brake at a good time for RB. If the car is parked at that point with a broken differential there is no conspiracy. But we all saw what happened next.

      1. What happened next? Conspiracy theories….

        1. Better watch the race again, when you forget so fast. He was sent out of the pits with a damaged car and no hope for points. Only meaningful decision was to retire the car, which all teams did in comparable situations. But for some well known reason they sent him out, serving their A-team. Disgraceful and expectable episode of Keeping up with the Verstappens.

          1. He was sent out of the pits with a damaged car and no hope for points.

            Definitely no hope for points, but then, half the field don’t get points. That’s not a reason to retire.
            And you have no idea what the team knew at the time they sent it out. Maybe they did genuinely believe that it was a wheel mounting issue, and the ultimate cause couldn’t be confirmed until that variable had been eliminated. Gun and release failures aren’t unheard of.

            There have been a lot of teams in the past expecting retirements but ploughing on regardless. Sometimes causing a very dangerous situation by dropping oil everywhere.

            Your dedication to Hamilton and Mercedes is admirable, if not pitiful.
            But hey, you do you.

          2. @romtrain Teams always continue when points look impossible. For one reason they’re a racing team, they work hard all year round to do this for only an hour and a half or so on a Sunday.

            Data collection is always useful, more the better.
            Sponsors pay to be on the car – giving up and going home because you didn’t think you’d get points, they might be asking for their money back.
            Yuki needs as much experience in the car that he can get.
            Like mentioned above, to try and find what went happened in a real world scenario.

            And then, it’s F1. How many crazy races have we had over the years? People get results from all sorts of positions. Safety car restarts, pile ups, rain showers. 6 drivers have won from last place. Heck Prost won once without ever being in the lead at any point.

            It’s worth pushing on for as long as you can. They’re competing.

          3. @bernasaurus and S: Nope, teams usually dont continue with severe unknown drive/suspension-related problems, when being one lap down and the majority of cars is still racing in the second half of the race. It makes no sense to cause further damage to the car (or even to put more wear on the components).

            I cannot remember any situation where any team did try to continue, apart from some kind of installation lap (after a real repair, and in profound knowledge of the initial problem). And I can remember dozens of retirements.

  11. People who actually believe it was a conspiracy to help RB & MV….🙊 Go see a doctor asap.

  12. It is the frustrating side to F1. It wouldn’t matter if Tsunoda was banned for life it won’t change the effect it had on the race. The same with Vettel getting a 5 second penalty for not getting out of the way with HAM and PER duelling it out. The cost in the end is unknown, always with some that that profit and some that lose out.

    We do know however that with one it totally screwed the Mercedes strategy and the other gave VER just a little more breathing space at a time when Lewis was within the pitstop window of Verstappen. That 3 seconds could of been crucial at the end of the GP.

  13. Conspiracy.
    Yuki’s car broke and he stopped it on track. Not a conspiracy. VSC or SC were pending.
    AT telling Yuki to drive broken car back to pits. Incompetence and not a conspiracy. VSC or SC cancelled.
    AT sending a broken car back onto track when there was no possible way to regain even one position let alone a points position. Conspiracy.
    When was the last time any team sent a car back out when it was late in a race and they were out of the running?
    Let’s not forget that RB parked a car that was in the points at Abu Dhabi because it might have failed in the last single lap of the race. They didn’t want to risk breaking the car even though that was the last race ever for that type of car.

    1. Did Alpha Tauri actually know – for sure – at the time they sent the car out for the final time that it was broken, and not merely an incorrectly mounted wheel? Before the pit exit, that is.
      The ultimate reason for the non-finish wasn’t confirmed until after the race had ended and the car was back in the garage.
      Not a conspiracy, and completely legal.

      Let’s not forget that RB parked a car that was in the points at Abu Dhabi because it might have failed in the last single lap of the race.

      Let’s also not forget that that was their own team car, and not that of another team – regardless of ownership.
      Not only is that not a conspiracy either, it’s also totally legal if they believe that it’s likely to fail on the racetrack. Prove otherwise.

      I’ve made up conspiracy theories for fun before, but you lot are actually serious. Scary stuff.
      If you think the teams are all so crooked and the sporting side of F1 is so corrupt, what on Earth are you watching it for?

      1. You presume that Alpha Tauri helping Red Bull would need to be complexly orchestrated. It might not even need to be discussed by anyone from the teams during a race. Just as Tsunoda knew full well that taking special care to hold up Hamilton last season would be well-received by the parent company bosses, the same applies to the team as a whole. If so, obviously nothing provable exists. ‘Conspiracy theory’ is easy to throw back as a counter-accusation. Ultimately it just remains one of those dubious passing moments. But it was too strange not to be a question mark.

        1. Agree. Yuki is already on the bad list at RB after crashing during qualifying. I believe Christian used the term Tsunoda’d as in “we got Tsunoda’d.” He was most likely somewhat disappointed when his car broke but then figured it wasn’t all that bad as it would be helpful to RB. And then his team tells him to drive it back to the pits.

          1. I believe Christian used the term Tsunoda’d

            Last year, when they actually had a championship fight to worry about….

            And then his team tells him to drive it back to the pits.

            Probably because they thought they might be able to fix it and complete the race.

            No, it was obviously to help the car that was easily more than a second per lap faster than everyone else anyway…. Right?

      2. Funny, how you deny obvious evidence of their crooked behaviour, telling others to build up conspiracy theories. With those things alone, which you yourself stated, its much more likely to be that way, and neglecting it is more of a made up theory than the other way round.

        1. Deny obvious evidence? Of what?
          I haven’t told anyone to create a conspiracy theory.

          Gee, you can make up some stories. It seems compulsive…

          1. The evidence everyone was able to see in the race. Maybe taking off orange glasses would help, instead of repeating embarrassing RBR narratives.

          2. The only embarrassment I feel is for you

    2. Especially since the car was obviously damaged, and there was a big risk to increase the damage. This was done for one purpose only. Orange glasses seem to cause blindness to not see that.

      BTW: Not saying that RBR ordered them to send him out again. Maybe there was some hidden message, but I guess the b-team knew itself how to behave. Strange, they told him to come back in when he initially stopped on track. But they had some time to rethink til decision to send him back out.

      1. Backatitlikeacrackaddict
        5th September 2022, 21:21

        Mate, you have to stop this. It ain’t funny anymore. People might actually think that you are serious with this. There are people that believe this nonsense and start threatening others on social media.

  14. RaceFans has a ‘Tsunoda incident explained’ article yet I don’t see any explanation anywhere why Alpha Tauri sent their driver back on track knowing that his seat belt wasn’t fastened properly – they knew because he repeatedly told them. Why do that?! Unsafe, likely to receive a penalty. Why not keep him in the pits until the situation was resolved or abandon his race? It remains bizarre and unexplained.

    1. yet I don’t see any explanation anywhere why Alpha Tauri sent their driver back on track knowing that his seat belt wasn’t fastened properly

      They didn’t. He was still on the track when he undid his belts, then the team instructed him to drive back to the pits.
      That’s why he gets the penalty noted above…. He knew his belts were undone, and he knows the rules. It’s his responsibility to obey them.

      When he returned to the pits they did them back up and sent him out again, which was when the car was parked.

  15. I can’t understand how they failed to identify the failure and sent him back as it was clear it was broken way before he even left the pit lane.

    The team should be penalized too.

  16. I find it very unsatisfying that there are so many safety cars affecting the outcome of races in recent seasons. Maybe race control is more inclined to go to safety car, but I think that is only part of the story.

    I feel that teams themselves are too quick to tell the driver to “stop stop stop” for fear they’ll damage the engine further, instead of limping the car back to the pits. That might be a consequence of budget caps and the limits on engines, but it leads to dangerous situations on track resulting in safety cars so perhaps some sort of penalty is needed to discourage that behaviour.

    The other factor is that tracks seem to have far fewer recovery points these days, and even though Tsunoda stopped by such a point, they still had to wait for the SC before the marshals could pull the car off track and I think they might also have had to wait for an electrical safety confirmation. These days it is rare to see cranes used to lift a car off track. Surely there could be a better system for recovering cars under double-waved yellows. These are supposed to be the best drivers in the world. Surely they can drive safely at a set speed and line through one section of the circuit long enough for the marshals to recover the car, and surely we have all the electronics we need to monitor and regulate that. e.g. they could be required to use pit speed limiter throughout that section. If drivers breached that safety rule then I feel they would merit the penalty of immediate disqualification, and I am sure that would suddenly focus them into becoming the safest drivers in the world.

    1. The limitation of components of course encourages teams to instantly stop in case of PU-related troubles. On the other hand the modern comples PU’s wont make it back to the pits in most situations anyway.

      I would like to see some situations solved with double yellow only, with strict enforcement of some local slow-down rules. And mechanics should not be allowed to touch the car for 10 seconds at pitstops under VSC or SC (at least in the first SC lap).

  17. This was so bizarre. I was confused with what was going on and I’m sure a lot of viewers thought the same. I can see why people think it was a bit convenient, but feeding into the conspiracy theory is just pointless.

  18. I was quite sure the conspiracy theories were bs…and then I read his radio exchanges with his engineer.
    Now I’m not so sure.

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