Styrian Grand Prix – Yuki Tsunoda has been given a three-place grid penalty and another point on his license for blocking during qualifying.
The AlphaTauri rookie driver had equalled his best qualifying performance of P8, but will now start outside the top ten and also add a second penalty point to his record after impeding Valtteri Bottas’ lap during the pole shootout in this afternoon’s qualifying session.
Tsunoda told Sky Sports F1 after the session, and before the decision, that he didn’t get warned by the team over the radio and didn’t see the Mercedes behind him until he was already in the braking zone where changing his line could’ve led to an accident rather than just some time loss.
“There’s a little bit of a crest before T4,” said Tsunoda. “And the point I saw him was already in the braking zone. If I changed direction and went inside I was already in the braking zone so I expected Valtteri to try to overtake from the inside so there would’ve been a big shunt. There wasn’t anywhere to go, that’s why I went straight and it looks like there was still a gap. I don’t think I ruined his lap too much but we’ll see.”
The Stewards however disagreed and said that while the team should be keeping their driver up to date about cars on fast laps behind, the driver themselves have to take responsibility.
“The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 22 (Yuki Tsunonda), the driver of Car 77 (Valtteri Bottas) and team representatives and reviewed video evidence.
“Car 22 had just completed a fast lap and had communication from the team that he was now on an in lap. The team did not warn Car 22 of the approach of Car 77 on a fast lap. Car 77 approached Car 22 at the entry to Turn 4. Car 22 was on the racing line and while he attempted to move off the racing line to the outside he did impede Car 77 unnecessarily.
“It is the responsibility of every driver to be aware of faster cars when they are on a slow lap. The team should have assisted the driver in being aware of the approaching faster car but such lack of communication is not an excuse for the driver.”
The grid penalty means that the Japanese driver will start tomorrow’s race from P11 while Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll are promoted to P8 and P9 while George Russell, who missed getting into Q3 by 0.008 seconds, will be P10.