Formula 1 Racing

Tsunoda clash with de Vries led to Baku F1 sprint race retirement

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04

Tsunoda started two places ahead de Vries but on the first lap the Dutchman got past him as the pair exited Turn 2.

The Japanese driver then had a look down the outside at Turn 3, but on the exit de Vries took his line and clipped his team-mate’s front wing.

While de Vries continued unscathed Tsunoda lost the left side part of the wing and immediately told the team that he had to pit.

However at the first high-speed section he came to – close to where Romain Grosjean famously once crashed his Haas under the safety car – he understeered wide and clipped the wall with the right-hand side of the car. The right rear wheel was shattered, and the tyre subsequently came off.

Tsunoda was told to return to the pits for a tyre change, but he warned the team that he didn’t think he could continue as it was such a hard hit.

He got back to the pits safely and after a quick visual inspection he was told “the car is good.”

However, as soon as he drove away and with the car crabbing sideways it was evident that the suspension was damaged, completing another lap before retiring.

A clearly frustrated Tsunoda wouldn’t name de Vries when asked by about the incident.

“I got forced [into] the wall from some driver,” he said. “I had a contact with a driver and I lost a front wing. I just didn’t recognise fully that the front wing was fully damaged and as soon I entered [the corner] I had no grip at all at the front.”

Asked to confirm who the culprit was he said: “I can’t say here.”

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

De Vries meanwhile insisted he had left space for his team-mate.

“We were next to each other into Turn 3,” said de Vries. “He was on the outside and there’s room for one car, and I was slightly ahead, so I guess that’s how we touched.

“He must have touched my right rear. Apparently, there was not enough room for both of us.”

Despite Tsunoda’s obvious disappointment a team spokesperson insisted that there were no issues between the two drivers when they met later in the debrief.

The Faenza outfit was subsequently fined €5000 for releasing Tsunoda’s car in an unsafe condition, with the FIA admonishing the team for not doing more to check for suspension damage.

Tsunoda said he assumed that the damage wasn’t immediately obvious.

“It wasn’t right, but we just fitted a tyre and [looked to] see if there’s damage,” he said. “It was invisible, they looked from…

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