Yuki Tsunoda was running inside the points with just 12 laps remaining in the Spanish Grand Prix, and after fending off a challenge from Zhou Guanyu he crossed the line in Barcelona in ninth place.
But a five-second penalty handed down by race stewards saw him drop from P9 to P12, denying the AlphaTauri driver his third points finish of the season, as well as his best result of the year.
Tsunoda blasted the decision following the Spanish Grand Prix, and it appears the time off has not cooled him down.
The penalty came as a result of an incident between Tsunoda and Zhou with 12 laps remaining. Zhou tried to pass Tsunoda on the outside at Turn 1, and Tsunoda tried to hold his line. Zhou ended up driving off the track, and protested that he had been forced off by Tsunoda.
Race stewards agreed, stating that Tsunoda “moved across to the outside of the corner,” forcing Zhou off the track:
You can judge the incident for yourself:
Speaking after the race, Tsunoda blasted the decision as “harsh.”
“It was a ridiculous penalty and it feels really unfair. That’s it,” said Tsunoda. “I left him room and I feel like he just gave it up in the early stages and went outside. He got caught out and there was still space outside there. I gave pressure but there was still space. I understand why it was a penalty but it feels very harsh.”
In Thursday’s press conferences ahead of this weekend’s Canadian Grand Prix, Tsunoda again expressed his frustration over the decision.
“I’m still upset with it but you cannot change anything,” said Tsunoda Thursday. “In the end, that’s what the FIA decided and actually, we spoke this afternoon with the FIA and understand their perspective. Other than that, nothing to say.”
However, do not expect the AlphaTauri driver to make any changes on the track.
“I won’t change any approach, I would say, to be honest. In the end I will try as much as possible to defend it, within the limit. I thought it was in the limit and it was not – but in the end, it was using too much and you cannot defend, so, obviously I’ll try to change a little bit better,” he added. “There’s room that I can improve in any situation. I feel, at the same time, a similar mindset to after the race, I felt quite harsh, but in the end it is what it is, and yeah, I just have to accept it.”
This week’s race in Montreal is Tsunoda’s second crack at the Canadian Grand Prix, and while he retired after 47 laps due to an accident in last year’s race, he still views it as a “turning point” for his F1 career.
“In fact, I remember the Canada race last year was a bit of a turning point in my understanding of the car. I struggled a lot in free practice, but I was able to come back much stronger in the race,” said Tsunoda in the team’s media preview. “Together with the engineers, we were able to understand which direction to take, to make both the car and me faster. That balance setup we found in Montreal is still what we use now. The Sim last week confirmed that and I’m happy with the work we did in fine-tuning the setup. I hope it works out.”
We’ll find out in a few days whether it does or not.