Tsunoda ‘really frustrated’ after contact with AlphaTauri team mate leads to Baku Sprint retirement and €5,000 fine
Yuki Tsunoda was left “really frustrated” after suffering the only retirement of Saturday’s 100km F1 Sprint encounter on the Baku City Circuit – a retirement that was all the more frustrating given that it came from contact with AlphaTauri team mate Nyck de Vries.
Tsunoda and De Vries were in the midst of a close tussle through the opening turns of the 17-lap Baku Sprint when the pair touched at the exit of Turn 3.
Tsunoda suffered front wing damage in the collision and had radioed his AlphaTauri team venting frustration at De Vries and telling them he was going to pit – only to understeer into the Turn 14 wall before he had the opportunity.
After limping back to the pits having jettisoned his right-rear tyre, Tsunoda rejoined the race in his AlphaTauri AT04, but was then seen bizarrely ‘crabbing’ around the track before being brought into retirement – with the stewards later handing AlphaTauri a €5,000 fine for releasing the car in an unsafe condition.
Asked for his account of the crash, Tsunoda replied: “I just had contact with some driver and I lost my front wing and he just didn’t leave me any space. The front wing got damaged [and I] didn’t really recognise it and went flat-out [into Turn 14], which usually I do.
“I mean, I released a little bit the throttle but I couldn’t control it at all and I went into the wall. But it’s really frustrating.”
The bright side for Tsunoda was a strong performance in Friday afternoon’s qualifying for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix – with the Japanese driver vowing to give it his all from his P8 starting slot to try and add to his tally of one point from the first three races of 2023.
“Definitely,” he replied, when asked if he could still rescue this weekend. “I will try to definitely reset my mindset for tomorrow – and try to score points obviously.”
Handing AlphaTauri the fine for releasing Tsunoda in an unsafe condition, meanwhile, the stewards wrote: “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. The team representative acknowledged that more could have been done. In the circumstances, we imposed a €5,000 fine on the team.”