Tsunoda 'really frustrated' after sprint accident and fine


Yuki Tsunoda was left feeling deeply unhappy after his Saturday sprint race in Azerbaijan ended prematurely when the AlphaTauri ended up hitting the wall on the first lap.

He was the only retirement from the 100km, 30-minute dash on the streets of Baku, having started the race from 16th on the grid after a disappointing morning 'showdown' qualifying session.

It had meant that he started just ahead of his team mate Nyck de Vries on the grid, and the pair made contact at turn 3 on the first lap of the race.

It left Tsunoda with front wing damage. He radioed the team pit wall to vent about de Vries and let them know he was on his way to pit lane, but before he could get there he went into the wall at turn 14.

“On the first lap of the sprint race, Nyck and I touched as I was trying to pass. I had no space and after the contact, my front wing was damaged," Tsunoda told the media afterwards.

"[I] didn’t really recognise it and went flat-out [into turn 14] which usually I do," he explained. “I mean, I released a little bit the throttle but I couldn’t control it at all.


"I understeered into the wall and my race was over," he sighed. "It’s very frustrating, as we weren’t able to maximise today’s opportunity."

"Both cars were racing hard from the start and ended up side by side at the apex of turn 3," reported Guillaume Dezoteux, head of vehicle performance at AlphaTauri.

"Nyck made contact with Yuki’s front wing while exiting the corner, and as a result, Yuki understeered into the wall in turn 13."

The impact also saw the AT04's right rear get loose and go for its own adventure, making it even harder for Tsunoda to scrape his way back to pit lane where he had a new wing fitted.

However it was immediately evident that the car was seriously damaged and was ‘crabbing' down the track. "Unfortunately the damage to his rear right end brought an end to his race," noted Dezoteux.

Yuki Tsunoda (JPN) AlphaTauri AT04 in the pits. 28.04.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku Street Circuit, Azerbaijan, Qualifying Day. - www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Coates / XPB Images

Race control was not at all happy that the team had sent a clearly unfit car back out in such a condition and the stewards later handed AlphaTauri a 5,000 euro fine for releasing the car in an unsafe condition.

“The team apparently did a visual check on the car, refitted a new tyre and rim and released the car," the official statement from the stewards explained.

"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."

Despite the day's disappointment, Tsunoda will at least get another chance for success in tomorrow's Grand Prix, which will see him start from a significantly more promising eighth place on the grid.

“I will definitely try to reset my mindset for tomorrow," the 22-year-old Japanese driver pledged. "Starting from a good position I’ll try to score as many points as possible.

"Our car suits this track well, so there is huge potential.”

Nyck de Vries (NL), Scuderia Alpha Tauri
29.04.2023. Formula 1 World Championship, Rd 4, Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Baku Street Circuit, Azerbaijan, Sprint Day.
- www.xpbimages.com, EMail: requests@xpbimages.com © Copyright: Charniaux / XPB Images

"We have gathered some useful data for tomorrow and we’ll review the strategy simulations tonight to come up with the best possible scenario for the race," Dezoteux confirmed.

"Nyck was able to overtake some cars which were struggling with the tyres," he pointed out, after the rookie went on to finish in 14th place.

"We gained four places in 21 laps, so if we keep that up for the race I will be a happy guy tomorrow night," said the former Formula E champion. "It was good to get out there under racing conditions.

"It gives you an idea of how to race the first couple of laps," he added. "Compared to other cars in the midfield, we didn’t seem to struggle as much with tyres, which is encouraging for tomorrow."

Keep up to date with all the F1 news via Facebook and Twitter