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.”
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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…
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