Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri, Baku City Circuit, 2023

AlphaTauri fined after overruling Tsunoda and sending damaged car onto track

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

The Azerbaijan Grand Prix stewards have fined AlphaTauri €5,000 (£4,400) after deciding they sent Yuki Tsunoda’s car out of the pit lane in an unsafe condition.

Tsunoda suffered damage on the opening lap of the Saturday sprint race after appearing to make minor contact with team make Nyck de Vries.

He reported damage to his car over the radio as a result of the contact and was told to pit. However, Tsunoda then hit the barrier at the fast kink of turn 13, which led to further damage to his car and resulted in his right-rear tyre coming off the wheel.

After returning to the pits, Tsunoda was fitted with a new wheel before being sent back out onto the circuit. However Tsunoda warned his team he didn’t believe the car was up to it.

“We do a pit stop and go out again,” race engineer Mattia Spini told Tsunoda.

“I don’t think so, because I already hit the wall, so no,” Tsunoda disagreed. “I think it will be damaged quite a lot. Look at the right side especially.”

After his wheels were replaced and the mechanics looked over the car, Tsunoda was released back onto the race track.

“We go again, Yuki,” Spini instructed. “The car is good.”

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

However, immediately after pulling away from his pit box, Tsunoda reported that his car was not in an appropriate state to race. “No, it’s not right. It’s not right. It’s definitely not right,” he reported, his car heavily crabbing to the right.

As Tsunoda recovered slowly through a full lap to return to the pits and retire, race control confirmed that AlphaTauri would be investigated after the race for releasing his car from the pits in an unsafe condition. After summoning the team, AlphaTauri were deemed to have failed to carry out a sufficiently thorough check before telling Tsunoda to rejoin the circuit.

“The driver [Tsunoda] had indicated to the team while returning to the pits that the shunt was significant and that he did not think it was possible to continue,” the stewards explained in their decision.

“The team apparently did a visual check on the car, refitted a new tyre and rim and released the car. The right rear suspension failed almost immediately after the release and the car had to be driven slowly back to the pits and retired. We considered that the team could have done more to check if the car was safe before releasing it.”

Tsunoda was given no penalty and will line up on his original grid position of eighth for Sunday’s grand prix.

Become a RaceFans Supporter

RaceFans is run thanks in part to the generous support of its readers. By contributing £1 per month or £12 per year (or the same in whichever currency you use) you can help cover the costs of creating, hosting and developing RaceFans today and in the future.

Become a RaceFans Supporter today and browse the site ad-free. Sign up or find out more via the links below:

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix

Browse all 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix articles

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

17 comments on “AlphaTauri fined after overruling Tsunoda and sending damaged car onto track”

  1. In Zandvort last year it looked like the again try to work for their A team. But same strange decision to release a clearly damaged car here. Looks like they have someone with a significantly wrong mindset in their deciding position. Not nice also from safety perspective.

    1. Yes, I’m very suspicious and when there’s a conspiracy theory I jump on it, how’s it possible that every time alpha tauri, and especially tsunoda in both cases, is sent out to cause a SC to benefit red bull?

      Dirty play imo.

      1. How did this SC benefit Red Bull?

  2. Unfortunately, the minor contact with De Vries went unseen on the world feed, but the crash itself ultimately happened without anyone side-by-side, like Grosjean’s on the same track portion.
    AT mechanics should’ve checked more carefully, though.

  3. Oh, the same driver and team that went back to the track with a broken differential on Zandvoort last year?

    Now i believe that was not intentional, they really are just that dumb.

    1. Are you sure? Is it a coincidence it brought out a SC helping red bull in both cases? While red bull was faster, it’d have been harder for perez without SC closing the gap.

      1. So you think what De Vries was ordered to run over Tsunoda’s front wing on the first lap?
        Tsunoda was ordered to understeer into the wall?
        That in that the first lap Red Bull quickly conveyed to Alpha Tauri that they suddenly desperately needed help to regain 1 point in a championship where they are miles ahead of their competition and so sent Tsunoda back out with a broken suspension?

        Come on now. Yes of course it is coincidence. If they were looking to pull this surely they would have done it back when they actually had competition for the title in 2021, or further back in 2009, 2010 or 2012. You are taking two occasions from the last 18 years of Toro Rosso/Alpha Tauri’s existence and suggesting a conspiracy on occasions where they really have had a very minimal reason to want to pull anything like this just because it so happened to benefit Red Bull. And imagine if they got caught, two championships where they were always comfortably going to win they would have been thrown out from because they wanted what a win at Zaandvort that changed nothing about the championship in 2022 and a single point in a sprint race.

        Of course there are going to be occasions where something happens to one of the Alpha Tauri’s and it benefits Red Bull, and yet if you took your tinfoil had off for second you would be able to find just as many occasions where something happens to one Alpha Tauri and it benefits Mercedes or Ferrari at the expense of Red Bull. Its swings and roundabouts, these things will inevitably happen over the course of 23 race season where in each race cars retire – inevitably one of them will be an Alpha Tauri and sometimes it will be to the benefit of Red Bull and sometimes to their detriment.

  4. I’m glad they didn’t give a Tsunoda a penalty when he told the team it wasn’t in any capable driving condition.

    That’s twice now he has said there was a serious problem with the car and they’ve ignored him told him to continue only for it to become obvious the next lap. Perhaps next time they should just listen to their driver, because they seemed to learn nothing from Zaandvort.

    1. They don’t listen to the driver cause they have an agenda: helping red bull with SC or whatever else they can bring in that can benefit them.

      1. Utter nonsense.

  5. It’s ironic that Tsunoda has to be told by his team to chill on the radio and they tell him to go out in a busted car he’s like, well OK if you say so.

  6. Tsunoda should have been penalized. He left the pits even though his steering wheel was at 10 o’clock to drive straight. He should have stopped the car at that point.
    As for the pit team, they need their eyes checked and possibly random tests for drugs and alcohol on race days.

    1. I recommend some motive tests as well, since I think it’s purposeful to bring out a SC, and it’s the 2nd time, always with tsunoda.

      1. Enough already, give it a rest.

  7. Is the basis for the penalty simply because of what Tsunoda said and eventual retirement? Did they find any data or visual indicators that obviously evidenced damage which the team should’ve spotted during the pit stop?

    A team could miss identifying damage (like previously Ferrari with LEC gearbox damage after pole crash) but if just basing the fine on driver’s warning and eventual retirement, this might lead to teams clamping down on how their drivers highlight risks over the radio.

  8. I don’t like the precedent being set here if truly the penalty was in any way based off the driver’s feedback. This could encourage drivers to not say anything if it means a potentially smaller fine.

  9. Electroball76
    30th April 2023, 10:13

    Four wheels? Check!
    Car not on fire? Check!
    Alright Yuki, inspection complete. You’re good to go!

Comments are closed.