Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Interlagos, 2022

FIA explains why Tsunoda was not allowed to un-lap himself at restart

2022 Brazilian Grand Prix

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The FIA has explained the unusual sequence of events which led to Yuki Tsunoda being denied the chance to rejoin the lead lap in the final Safety Car period during the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Tsunoda was one of three drivers which were a lap down while the race was suspended, and should therefore have been waved past the rest of the queue and the Safety Car. This did happen for the two other drivers, Williams team mates Alexander Albon and Nicholas Latifi.

The process of allowing lapped cars to rejoin the lead lap was put under fierce scrutiny following last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. FIA F1 race director Michael Masi lost his job after failing to allow all the lapped cars to rejoin the lead lap in a hastily-arranged last lap restart, following which Max Verstappen passed Lewis Hamilton to win the world championship.

An automated system was introduced to improve the procedure. However the nature of the pit lane layout at Interlagos caused a complication which led to Tsunoda being overlooked.

“All of the systems functioned correctly and according to the regulations,” an FIA spokesperson told RaceFans. “The unusual situation arose as a result of the idiosyncrasies of the specific circuit and scenario.”

After the Safety Car was deployed, Tsunoda was the first driver to cross Safety Car Line One before the pit lane entrance. He therefore crossed it for a second time on the next lap, which the system would ordinarily register means he is eligible to un-lap himself.

“However, at this time he entered the pit lane and was able to go faster than the train of cars behind the Safety Car,” the spokesperson explained. “In doing so, he un-lapped himself when crossing the control line in the pit lane

“When he rejoined the circuit, the systems correctly indicated that he was again a lap down, however as he had already un-lapped himself once, he was not eligible to do so again when the Safety Car period was ending

“Race control checked this was correct with F1 Timing and they confirmed that only car six [Latifi] and car 23 [Albon] could un-lap themselves.”

“While this is a very unusual scenario, there were no systems or procedural errors, it is one of those unpredictable scenarios that can happen and there are no immediate changes that need to be implemented,” the spokesperson stated. “This will of course be discussed at future Sporting Advisory Committees as part of the normal review procedures.”

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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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    45 comments on “FIA explains why Tsunoda was not allowed to un-lap himself at restart”

    1. They can say the rules etc were followed but the end result is still undesirable.

      It reminds me of when teams moved pit stops to traffic light systems and blamed the tech.

      All drivers should be on the lead lap if they go for the “lapped cars may overtake” option. Leaving one driver a lap down is unfair.

    2. I wonder if common sense has any meaning any more in this age of computers and sensors.

      1. Common sense hasn’t been a thing for years now. So much so that when someone displays some I now refer to it as uncommon sense.

        1. common sense is not the common anymore.

      2. Common sense is just arbitrariness shared by the greatest number.
        If you have a good idea, you don’t need common sense to justify it.

      3. Commonsense is more than 4 letters!!!

    3. So what happened was within the text of the rules, but against the idea behind the rules.

      “An automated system was introduced to improve the procedure.”
      Whoopty doo, so now there’s no-one to blame. Why wasn’t there a person to overturn the automated system?

      1. Programmers are not what they used to be. In this case they are being rightly blamed for implementing an ‘undesirable’ system without bringing it to the attention of their clients. You see examples everywhere from British Gas bills to TV recorders.

      2. Because the automated system followed the rules correctly?

      3. Well if this was correct, then Tsunoda should have received a penalty for unlapping himself without permission!
        Yes, this is just as ridiculous, but you know… rules right!

    4. They can say what ever they want, Latifi passed Tsunoda due to this error of the FIA. And that can never be right.

    5. This lead to Tsunoda slowing down on the restart and Bottas and Leclerc overtaking him before the start/finish line, with Vettel and Alonso close behind. This can not happen and in future cases, it should be sorted during the safety car, even if it just means relaying the information to the drivers.

    6. Oh my… Looks like they chose the most complicated way to determine who is eligible to unlap themselves… but more than that, why would you even need an automated solution for such a simple problem? Just check the timing screen during the safety car period, once the track is clear, and see who is at least a lap down, how difficult can that be?

      1. Cos last season a human was in charge of unlapping and it did not do well. Here the system followed the rules perfectly. You are only allowed to unlap once and that’s it.

        One can argue maybe the rules need to be changed but that would be an debate about the rules not the system.

      2. So the RC is again in error as every lapped car should be allowed to overtake. looks like 2021 again blaming the tech instead of the RC. When you see these thingas RC should intervine.

    7. petebaldwin (@)
      13th November 2022, 22:56

      I thought they let the cars un-lap to get them out of the way? It shouldn’t matter if someone has gained a lap in the pits somehow – they’re in the way, they’re not on the lead lap so get them out of the way.

      1. +3 There was a significant delay between Lando’s car being cleared and the restart. They say themselves they knew how it happened, so yeah, overrule the system and get him through the pack and out of the way. He did well on the start finish straight to let almost the entire pack through. But with drivers pulling out from under rear wing of the car in front getting a tow, I doubt any of them were expecting to find a slow moving Yuki on the inside.

        It was all very silly and unnecessary, cant have been fun for Yuki having to sit there being overtaken by 14 cars or whatever in the space of 300m.

    8. A highly disappointing defensive reaction from the FIA. They should have admitted that the outcome was totally unsatisfactory.

      1. Just shows that regardless the guy at the top, they will not admit their mistakes, I guess @shimks.

        Their reasoning is such a BS excuse with this.

        “All of the systems functioned correctly and according to the regulations,” an FIA spokesperson told RaceFans. “The unusual situation arose as a result of the idiosyncrasies of the specific circuit and scenario.”

        If everything worked as it should, then the system is designed the wrong way. In the end it caused a dangerous situation, it looked like Tsunoda and Leclerc almost crashed when Leclerc was one of those who did not let him through. In the F1TV after show Doohan mentioned how it had also hurt Alonso having a go at the cars in front because Tsunoda was in there, exactly the reason why they decided to have cars unlap themselves.

        What a mess at the FIA. A few races back we found out they messed up the rule making to correct the Spa shambles, now this. It really shows that Masi was not the problem as such, the issues lie with the FIA. I would add to that the nonsense with Stewards avoiding/refusing to give Gasly penalty points – one yesterday, another 2 today.

        1. I have no problem with the explanation as far as it goes, after all, if this is ‘why’ it happened, what else can they say. However they really did need to add that just because this is why it happened, they agree this is not what should have happened.

          1. “There are no immediate changes that need to be implemented” is such a crazy thing to say. I beg to differ, immediate changes are needed to ensure this doesn’t happen again! What if in such an “automated” programme the cars that overtook Tsunoda when he was in the pitlane were all given penalties for overtaking under a safety car?! In theory that would be consistent with saying what happened here was all fine and dandy!

            1. @bascb @cairnsfella @f1hornet

              Glad you all agree with me!

              I really feel for Masi. He was really thrown under the bus.

    9. The fact that they say there were no system or procedural failures even though the race restarted with one driver out of position, tells you all you need to know about the people running these races. The same type of mess occurred in some other race this year when the safety car was in front of some car that wasn’t the lead car.

      Why doesn’t the safety car join the procession in the proper spot? It seems haphazard and there is no reason for it. An incident occurs somewhere on the track. Yellow flags or double yellow flags are waived to tell all drivers to slow down. And then the safety car or vsc decision is made. Why doesn’t that happen in a controlled manner?

    10. “All of the systems functioned correctly and according to the regulations,” more FIA gaslighting, feels like Tsunoda gets all of the short straws regarding rules and how he is treated by the team.

      Anyway he would not be in the lapped position if the car had pace but it is one of the slowest on the grid going from a points scoring car at the start of the season to a backmarker. Honda should seriously consider buying the team and giving it the proper funding and expertise to develop a fast car.

    11. I feel like I would be upset by this if it happened to a driver that I actually liked or respected. This happening to Entitled Tsunoda makes me smile.

      1. Racist and rubbish comment from a slimeball. All F1 drivers have some level of entitlement

    12. “When he rejoined the circuit, the systems correctly indicated that he was again a lap down, however as he had already un-lapped himself once, he was not eligible to do so again when the Safety Car period was ending”

      How did Tsunoda unlap himself? Was he 2 laps down prior to the safety car. No. This line is simply untrue. How can FIA even publish this without proof reading.

    13. So, a driver loses all chances to fight for position through no fault of his own, yet the system worked exactly as intended and needs no changes.

      I used to think that the biggest clowns in the paddock were the Ferrari strategists… time to pass the red noses to FIA, ragazzi.

    14. Latifi should get a penalty for overtaking Tsunoda under SC. Rules are rules after all. He wasn’t a lap down compared to Tsunoda so shouldn’t be allowed to pass, only unlap himself.

    15. Can we just agree to disagree with FIA. They will do things their way and they will continue to do so.

    16. “All of the systems functioned correctly and according to the regulations,” an FIA spokesperson told RaceFans.

      This is preposterous! The systems didn’t all function correctly and according to the regulations because Tsunoda was left diverted up a creek without a paddle by the FIA instead of being allowed to join the back of the convoy with the other two cars that had been behind him. The FIA was responsible for his finishing in last place.

    17. I hate all this unlapping nonsense. That safety car was deployed after they manage to unbeach the McLaren off the kerb. The safety cars job is to bunch the field so that track workers have a clear window of time to work safely. Thats all it should be for, not to help out lapped drivers

      1. Yes fully agree! Finally someone who also has the opinion that unlapping is unnecessary and unwanted. Never understood why this was introduced maybe to make more of a show but I feel the leader is already disadvantaged with the SC so why remove the backmarkers and why help out lapped drivers?

      2. Totally agree aswell, its complete nonsense.

    18. Still wrong & unfair, although this whole situation wouldn’t have arisen had Tsunoda not pitted when he did.

    19. I can perfectly understand the issue here. To illustrate lets make another example.
      1.Driver is lapped and is allowed to unlap himself.
      2.While driving to catch the tail end of the grid, driver spins and ends up briefly in the gravel trap.
      3.The leaders pass the driver and only then he manages to get out of the gravel trap.
      4.Now the driver is once again lapped.
      Should the driver be allowed to unlap himself once more? How many times can one do it? This kind of scenario is unlikely in a dry race but i can easily imagine such situation in wet race where the leader has to avoid clumsy backmarker tripping over in pretty much every corner..
      In the current case the gravel trap was simply replaced with pits, the idea remains the same.

    20. Reverse it. Lapped cars to fall to back of safety car train. Much quicker than having them overtake and go around I would think.

      1. Totally agree, but what happens if one of those “a lap behind” finishes first or on the Podium or in the points? They can’t claim to have driven the full race distance. As I said, I agree with what you said, that the lapped cars should move straight to the back of the Safety Car train, and be credited with one lap (or however many laps). The only valid reason I can see for not doing what you suggest is because those cars MUST have travelled the full race distance. I don’t know why they must do this, but that is the only reason I can see which prevents what you suggest from happening. If it isn’t necessary then what you suggest is logical.

    21. The TOTAL solution, NOT a band-aid, is simple. BAN UNLAPPING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      If a driver is not quick enough, for whatever reason, then he/she should not gain any advantage and finish a lap down.
      Also, irrespective of the names of the drivers, if there is lapped vehicles between 1st & 2nd, that means !st has successfully negotiated lapping those cars. 2nd has already gained an advantage by closing up on the 1st place, why should the 2nd driver have an ADDITIONAL advantage of having lapped cars removed!!!

      1. Agree. Although my ears are ringing now lol.

    22. Masi got fired for something that was possible looking at the wording of the rules.
      The rule was changed, promises were made for this season and again f1 has managed to fail. F1 has failed at everything they have promised to correct. Wittich managed to do worse than Masi again. Wittich is incredibly lucky Hamilton was not fighting for the year, race direction this year has been even worse than last year.
      F1 race direction calls on racing are all over the place, the penalties are arbirtrary, the heft of the penalty varies according to the livery of the car, the meat ball flag is bias, the penalty points system can’t do mass. Spa’s points debacle is still possible according to Suzuka. Not all cars unlapping is still possible according to Interlagos. Some cars can be off their spots on the restarts. Recovery cars, marshalls and drivers can be on track under yellows. The list goes on.

    23. I’m still confused. How many laps did Tsunoda do in the race? They are saying he unlapped himself because he was past the sc line at the relevant time?

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