Tsunoda’s bizarre, VSC-triggering double stoppage explained

2022 Dutch Grand Prix

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Yuki Tsunoda said he could feel something was clearly broken with the rear of his car when he stopped on track twice during the Dutch Grand Prix.

The AlpahaTauri driver was running in tenth position when he pitted for hard tyres at the end of lap 42. When he exited the pit lane, he immediately reported that his new tyres were not securely fitted and was told to stop on the circuit before being directed to continue by his team.

After pitting a second time and being released back onto the circuit, Tsunoda confirmed he could still feel a problem with his car and was again told to stop on circuit, where he eventually retired which prompted a Virtual Safety Car.

AlphaTauri’s chief engineer of vehicle performance, Claudio Balestri, said that the team were investigating the cause of Tsunoda’s retirement.

“After the pit stop he reported something strange at the rear of the car, we called him in again to change the tyres and immediately after we had a car failure. This is currently under investigation within the team,” Balestri explained.

Tsunoda later explained to media including RaceFans after the race that he had detected the problem leaving the pit lane. “For me it was quite clear, especially at the rear,” he said. “That’s why I got told from my engineer to stop.

“We fitted a new tyre again and I confirmed that the same thing’s happening. I thought first it was just wheelspin happening because it was the hard tyre – that’s why it was low grip. But I felt a clear issue that something was going on with that rear part and the engineers confirmed there was an issue – that’s why we stopped.”

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Tsunoda described how he had to cautiously recover back to the pit lane after being told to fire up his car. “I was like drifting on the straight,” he said. “I was doing counter-steering on the straight. So that’s why I didn’t feel like it’s normal.”

The AlphaTauri pit crew were seen appearing to re-tighten Tsunoda’s safety belts in the cockpit before releasing him from the pit lane. Tsunoda confirmed that his mechanics were helping to re-secure him into his seat before he was released back onto the circuit.

The problem ended a promising weekend for Tsunoda, who out-qualified team mate Pierre Gasly, started ninth and was over ten seconds ahead of his team mate before pitting.

“I’m quite happy with what I did and my progress so far,” Tsunoda said. “It was pretty strong this week, so from my side, just keep doing like this and just progress and also learn from Pierre as much as possible.

“First, I need a clean race week. I think I can have a good rhythm after that. Currently I don’t have a good rhythm at all, so I just want to be back into a good rhythm and to score points consistently.”

Tsunoda is under investigation for a possible violation of the rules over his departure from the pit lane.

Tsunoda team radio after lap 43 pit stop

After being released from the pit lane on hard tyres after a routine pit stop, Tsunoda reported a problem upon rejoining the track.

SpiniOffset zero. And P7. Leclerc in fourth is… Blue flag, Hamilton behind 3.8…
TsunodaNo! Tyre! Tyres not fitted! Tyres not fitted!
SpiniCopy, slow down. Russell – 5.9. And stop on track in a safe place. Stop on track in a safe place.
TsunodaSo confirm tyres not fitted?
SpiniAlbon behind. Bottas. Zhou is coming…
Tsunoda[Shouting] Confirm tyres not fitted?!
SpiniStop on track. Stop on track, now. Stop on track.

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After stopping on the track approaching turn six, Tsunoda was directed to restart his car and continue on the circuit.

TsunodaTyres not fitted?
SpiniIs the tyre okay, yes?
TsunodaWhy stopping, the tyre- stopping? So retire, yeah? Retire.
SpiniGo again. Go again. Start. Start again. Tyres are okay. Start again, tyres are okay.

Tsunoda restarted his car and rejoined the track, but reported a clear problem with his car as he recovered to the pit lane.

TsunodaSomething wrong though.
SpiniGasly coming behind. Gasly coming behind. Blue flag for Gasly, then blue flag for Leclerc. Is around five and then Hamilton, ten. Blue flag. Blue flag.
SpiniHamilton six, blue flag. Russell, four – blue flag. Albon, ten, after Russell. Then Bottas, Zhou, Vettel – so watch your mirrors.
TsunodaI think diff or something is broken. Only the [unclear] on the switch.
SpiniWatch your mirrors. Watch your mirrors. Slow down and box, box. We box, box. Watch your mirrors for cars and box, box. Watch your mirrors behind.

As Tsunoda approached the pit lane, he alerted his team that they would need to secure his seat belts.

SpiniYuki we box and we fit another tyre – we go out.
TsunodaErr, you have to tight[en] the belt.
SpiniBox, box. We change tyre.
TsunodaTyres- you’ll have to seat- belts, belts. You need a belt – seatbelt.

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After exiting the pit lane for a second time, Tsunoda confirmed the issue remained and was directed to pull off the circuit and retire from the race.

TsunodaYeah, something’s wrong. Something’s strange in the rear. Something strange. Diff is broken, I think.
SpiniStop, stop. Stop in a safe place. Go out. Go out pit exit and stop in a safe place. Vettel blue flag behind. Watch your mirrors? Blue flag behind, watch your mirrors. Watch your mirrors again.
SpiniAnd stop in a safe place, Yuki.
SpiniAnd P1 and go to P0. P1 and go to P0. And jump out. Make sure you go P0.

Update: Tsunoda was given a reprimand for his loose seatbelts but the team was cleared of releasing him unsafely from the pits

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2022 Dutch Grand Prix

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Author information

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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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51 comments on “Tsunoda’s bizarre, VSC-triggering double stoppage explained”

  1. Clearly this was Helmut Marko’s and Red Bulls doing. Especially seeing how much Franz Tost was fuming on the pitwall after Tsunoda parked the car without being told so from the pitwall.

    No but seriously, this was crashgate 2.0, which surely is still possible even though one can hear EVERY SINGLE radio message when following the driver on-borad via F1TV.

    Drive to Survive has ruined more than an entire generation of F1 ‘fans’ who will question everything. I believe the Dutch have a good word for that; ‘wappie’. Seems to apply just fine here…

    1. There was definitely a real problem that forced Tsunoda to retire, but it is still odd that they sent him back out despite him being two laps down and almost certainly with a problem, and then once they had confirmed he definitely had a problem, why he didn’t just drive back to the pits as he did the first time. At worst, maybe they saw that they could retire in a way that would benefit Red Bull with no negative consequences to themselves. Or maybe it was a complete coincidence. Either way, I no longer think it could have been akin to Crashgate.

      1. Your spot on they stopped tsunoda on track delibretly also perez spinning yesterday denying a fast lap from lewis team cheaters

    2. If it’s true, Leclerc may win the championship.

      1. It is proving it that is the issue. Rad bull could easily agree code words that are nothing to do with the race and unless a whistle blower reveals the truth then there is no way to prove it happened. The obvious solution is to ban B teams. It is ludicrous in a sport where track position and potential interference can change a race, that B teams are allowed.. This looks like a very dodgy decision and the FIA really need to look at this.

        1. How did you ever look at the 2021 season? Where bottas crashed half the field in hungary.

    3. that is utter BS @duuxdeluxe. As @f1frog mentions, and as the second stoppage showed, Tsunoda correctly felt there was something wrong. He guessed it was the tyre not fitted well, which makes sense since he just came out of the pitlane.

      He was then proven right when it turned out that there really WAS something broken on his car.

      1. I didn’t think /sarcasm was needed in my comment. Turns out it was.

        I completely agree with Tsunoda feeling somethign wrong with his car and stopping. Yet there are a lot of people on this site that think for some reason, Red Bull would risk the fallout of a crashgate just to annoy Hammilton. I was merely stating how absurd that would be.

      2. But he stopped the. Was told it was fine. The. Came in sounding very dodgy and then pulled over just before an ideal stopping point that would have meant no safety car was needed. They must have know there was a car issue before he came in to the pits as the car sounded terrible!

    4. On f1tv you can hear that Tsunoda’s car breaks at pit entry. As yuki is slowing down and engaging the pit limiter he breaks something in the transmission, at least that is what it looks like from onboard. The timing of the radio calls also makes more sense from the onboard.

    5. @duuxdeluxe Correction: you can hear every pit-to-driver message. Inter-team collaboration by definition (as alleged here) would be largely using other means of communication.

      There definitely sounded like there was something wrong with the car as it left the pits, but I didn’t realise Yuki had stopped just before a retrieval point (I thought he stopped at a hole in the wall which would make it relatively simple to get the car, albeit somewhat carelessly in terms of where the car was positioned within the location).

      The reprimand for the belts surprises me as Tsunoda stopped at the earliest opportunity to get it sorted out (for which there is precedent for not penalising it due to the way orange-and-black flags work). The correct point of reprimand would have been to tell him off for setting off again after stopping due to a wheel issue (even though it was later discovered that the wheel was not the issue).

  2. To send him out again was clearly not reasonable.

    1. Regardless of conspiracy theories. Sending a driver complaining about something not right in the car in addition to safety issues with his seatbelts is reckless to say the least.

      1. @tifoso1989 The belts were secure at that point – it was only between stopping the first time and pitting that the belts were loose.

        1. @alianora-la-canta
          Thanks for the info !

    2. @romtrain @tifoso1989 Unreasonable & reckless indeed, as he was already out of contention for any decent positions, so retiring while he was in the pit lane should’ve been a common sense call in this situation (& should be in all similar situations for all teams), especially since not everything was right in the car anyway.

  3. They knew straight away he could not go on but released him anyway. They have sensors for everything but couldn’t tell the car was broken?

    A big fine would be good, as there’s nothing else that can be done.

    1. @Edvaldo While the driver already received a (non-driving) reprimand a separate fine to the team wouldn’t be unjustified either for recklessness by sending out despite clear car issue(s).

  4. Nice writeup, it will make good very reading in 2025 when a former AT engineer spills the beans.

    I am convicted that Yuki’s car was sabotaged to bring out a SC or VSC to give sister team RB a free pitstop to keep wunderkind ahead of Lewis and guarantee the race win.

    Also why are people quick to yell conspiracy nut after this incident? These are the same people who probably screamed conspiracy nut after the 2008 Singapore race. The difference between 2008 and this race is that Yuki was not aware of the conspiracy to fix the race which is why he didn’t get out of the car when the car stopped first time causing a desired vsc/sc and drove back to the pits, AT was not expecting this so made a bs belt check and sent him out again before yelling on the radio to stop the car..

    I have seen people say “max is 6 billion points ahead why the need to fix”? Maybe someone had a 7 figure bet on a max win? Maybe Lewis could not win at all costs for security concerns on track or avoiding a pr disaster. After what happened in Abu Dhabi and the all round WWE drama alert meddling Americanisation of the sport liberty media loves this wouldn’t be as far fetched as it sounds

    Also you cannot compare this to Bottas on track dnf because you expect to see engine related DNF’s towards the end of the race and most team bake this in to their standard race strat.

    1. Speaking as a definite LH fan, I think you may need to stay away from the more unusual smoking mixtures available in the Dutch territories.

      1. We export those ‘stuff’ mostly. No need to visit the netherlands.

    2. @ccpbioweapon is you conspiracy creativity only working when a team that you support is not winning? Otherwise we also can begin with the car that MB developed 10 years ago which crushed the entire field for 10 years.

      1. MB developed 10 years ago which crushed the entire field for 10 years.

        Small typo there I think, developed the year before the first winning season – of which I believe there were 8 consecutive?
        Not that developing something that others can’t beat is something only one team has ever done and isn’t really conspiracy fodder.

        Having a major rules change that plays to the strength of one specific, well known, aero-designer who part owns a team might be considered conspiracy fodder.

  5. Jeez Louise…. lay off the gin!

    “Never ascribe to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” – Napoleon

  6. If this was a spygate 2.0 why they won’t tell it.“Yeah we will wait 5 years so 95% of the people will forget and it cannot affect anything anymore.”. If it wasn’t tell it if it was tell it. Truth will be better to tell now rather than somewhere in the future at the genevese court room n.5…

    1. You mean that we than finally hear why that MB was so quick the last 10 years?

  7. Fine them into oblivion for excessive stupidity.

    1. @mxmxd There’s a cap on the size of an individual fine by the stewards.

  8. This should be investigated and, if true, RB should out of the two championships for 2022.

    1. I love the hope that resonates in your post…

    2. @freelittlebirds

      Indeed, if RB has instructed AT to stop the car on the track to trigger a (V)SC than RB should indeed be thrown out of the two championships for 2022. And therefore, it is very improbable that RB has anything to do with it.

      Think about the advantages and disadvantages for BR. The advantage would be a well-timed VSC which will help Verstappen to win the race. However, he was already in a very good position to win the race, and he does not need the victory to become champion.

      Then think about the disadvantage: unlike Singapore 2008 a setup between AT and RB requires communication between teams rather than within the team. This is more complex, more risky and a bigger chance that they get busted. They risk being DQd for the entire championship, and for what? A race win that was already likely?

      So yes, it is quite sensible to call for an investigation, but really thinking this is a conspicacy doesn’t sound very sensible to me.

    3. Again a great post(not) from @freelittlebirds? Shall we also investigate those Mb ‘suspicious’ moves from the last 10 years? Or do you only want those investigations at RB?

      1. @itsme wait, it’s you again? :-) Well, that was very strange and it somehow benefited the sister team. There’s absolutely no doubt that Red Bull enjoys an advantage in this sport owning 2 out 10 teams in the field. Essentially, they are a 4 car team and we have seen the 2 teams many times play game to assist each other. Short of Gasly and Tsunoda giving slipstream to Perez and Verstappen on track, they’ve done everything else.

        I would not be surprised if there’s a strategist assigned for intra team cooperation and this came out of that strategist.

        Perhaps that strategist’s name is Helmut Marko – many of you may have never heard of him but he’s pretty well known in the sport ;-)

        1. @freelittlebirds think about how stupid this would be when you have such an advantage in the championship. There was (and is) no need for such scam. Nice to see the conspiracy theories are creating in such a fast way from you guys when things are not work as planned. But hey,… I never heard from you when things where really working for lewis by coincidence. So conspiracies are only created for situations you do bot like?

          1. @itsme it’s the Dutch GP – we all know Verstappen wants to win there more than anywhere else and the last person they would like to see win it instead is Lewis Hamilton especially when they can still win it by creating a safety car by just sending out a driver with an issue to do another lap.

            When there’s so much coincidence, you have to assume that the most reasonable explanation is the likely one. Clearly Tsunoda wasn’t planning on winning any points in the race and he could have coasted back to the pits. If they created a safety car as they did to help the other team win the home GP for their driver, it was an obvious one.

            If Max wins 15 races this season and doesn’t win the Dutch GP, he’d still be fuming over that. Horner and Marko are aware of that.

  9. Lewisham Milton
    4th September 2022, 20:26

    At least they had four wheels ready for him.

  10. I blame this on Ferrari: had they provided a legitimate challenge to VER the race would be focus on racing and not in conspiracy theories.

  11. But Lewis was a legitimate challenge and was stopped by a VSC for RBs B team causing a baffling safety hazard….

  12. Spini “Stop, stop. Stop in a safe place. Go out. Go out pit exit and stop in a safe place

    Genuine question. Any reason to specifically instruct to stop after exiting the pit lane? Was any other car in the pits or is it a rule to not stop in pit lane if car is drivable?

    1. Well. If you stop in the pitlane, they need to close it, which will prevent everybody from performing a pit stop for the duration of the blockage. Furthermore, every car that’s already in the pit lane and behind you, is getting blocked. Both scenario’s would potentially ruin somebody else’s race. I think that choosing to stop after the exit, makes the best sense from a racing perspective.

  13. Yeah, RB needed that additional +5 points, the race win, otherwise their championship would be in shambles. They clearly needed to risk a full year ban by cheating with Alpha Tauri

    1. There are a lot of ‘fans’ here who do create interesting theories when the goat can’t win anymore

      1. There are a lot of ‘fans’ here, constantly echoing and repeating the RBR narrative.

    2. They wanted that win at the Dutch GP – it’s a must-win event for Max especially if they can just send out a car that has trouble out for another lap. In retrospect, they should not have done it but they didn’t have the benefit of time and they must have been under pressure.

      Huge mistake, in my opinion and I hope it costs them $150 million because all that money is now stolen from the other 8 teams who would make more in the absence of Red Bull and Toro Rosso from the championship.

      1. @freelittlebirds

        If all of this is true, then why did they tell Tsunoda to start the car again?
        He had already turned it off and was ready to climb out so why try to get him going again?

        I find it amazing that you have convinced yourself that this was deliberate and you already make scenarios on the possible penalty to Red Bull…

  14. As a neutral (Mclaren fan), it has been most amusing reading the comments from the tin foil, round is flat, Drive to Survive fans about clear inter-team sabotage. Put it simply, lets say both HAM and RUS beat VER, putting VER into 3rd, RBR would still have scored more championship points that their closest title contenders (FER) thus extending their already huge lead in the championship, so a stupendous gamble to risk being thrown out of the entire championship purely so that Max gets another win and an extra 8 pts.

    And as for RUS being selfish and he should have taken one for the team by acting as HAM wingman to clock VER, even Leclerc got pass HAM after the safety car, and finished a further 3 secs ahead of HAM. Do you really think RUS could have defended against a much faster RBR down the straight with DRS? VER even got pass HAM down the straight without DRS. Russell knew on the harder compound tyre that they were sitting ducks. HAM should have known this too.

    Maybe, with no VSC or SC, Merc (HAM) might have won, but that’s all if’s but’s and maybe’s. If other things during the race had (or hadn’t happened), then HAM may not have been leading anyway.

    IF, and I don’t mean this for 1 second, if there was a valid conspiracy theory regarding Tsunoda, it becomes a moot point due to HAM “best wingman I ever had” friend called BOTTAS brought out the full SC anyway.

    Fact is, RBR and VER would have won the race without the TSU conspiracy theory.

    I really thought after all the “RBR are clearly cheating with a flexi-floor” comments from the Merc croud that they would have had their tails between their legs for a while, but clearly not, those tails are still wagging profusely in a desperate attempt to discredit a VER WDC and an RBR WCC

  15. Exiting pits and stopping on track, which in this era guarantees at least a VSC even if it’s a safe place, was incredible.

    I don’t blame the conspiracy theorists – though I’m keeping an open mind, because this looks properly fishy, and I believe this needs to be properly investigated and punished if anything dodgy happened.

    1. To be clear, I mean after his second stop after they tightened his belts and put him on softs.

  16. I cannot believe that RB and AT would collaborate. Ridiculous.

    Also, why did AT start from the pitlane in BEL?

    1. To push Verstapen’s up two starting positions

Comments are closed.