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Sunday, November 28, 2021

Why Tsunoda wasn’t at fault in Mexico F1 qualifying controversy

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Horner’s outburst got here after the AlphaTauri driver was deemed to have ruined the essential last qualifying laps of stablemates Sergio Perez and Max Verstappen, allowing Mercedes a surprise front row lockout

However was the Japanese rookie actually at fault?

Whereas it typically occurs at different phases of qualifying, it’s uncommon for a driver to be on a sluggish in-lap proper on the finish of Q3, when everybody else goes flat out on what is meant to be their quickest lap of the weekend.

That was right down to the technique adopted by AlphaTauri. Tsunoda had a again of the grid energy unit change penalty, and thus went into qualifying with two targets – end forward of the three different drivers carrying comparable penalties (Lando Norris, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll) to say seventeenth on the grid, and assist his team-mate Pierre Gasly with a tow.

We’ve seen just a few comparable conditions in latest races, as a number of drivers have taken engine penalties on the identical weekend. However normally the towing solely goes so far as Q2, as a result of penalised drivers don’t wish to attain Q3 and be dedicated to beginning on the “mistaken” tyre from the again of the grid.

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On this event, each Tsunoda and Norris made it out of Q2 – the McLaren driver doing so on the favoured medium tyre with out making any compromises. However Tsunoda had to make use of the comfortable, thus committing himself to utilizing a tyre at first that everybody else tried onerous to keep away from.

The upside for his workforce was that Gasly would have a tow for the essential last run in Q3, and that’s what it labored in direction of.

The technique meant that after he’d carried out his job and pulled Gasly down the lengthy pit straight, Tsunoda must tour spherical understanding that lots of quick vehicles can be developing behind him on their last scorching laps. Within the occasion, these he must let by had been each Ferraris, each Crimson Bulls and each Mercedes.

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT02, Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri AT02

Picture by: Steven Tee / Motorsport Images

Right here’s a timeline of the radio visitors between Tsunoda and his engineer Mattia Spini on the finish of Q3 as he approached the top of the preparation lap, and tried to make a niche between himself and Daniel Ricciardo up forward.

Crew: “Hold the place, it’s good, keep there.”

TSU: “I’m giving the strain to Ricciardo.”

Crew: “You’re doing very nicely, so it’s all effective.”

Tsunoda then dropped again barely from Ricciardo as he reached the stadium part, whereas Gasly bought into place behind, able to get the tow.

Crew: “OK, no person pushing behind, so a pleasant time to open that hole. We have now two seconds now. Six seconds now, we’re good. Cost on and push.”

Tsunoda then blasted down the straight with Gasly behind. On the finish of it he jinked to the proper and let the Frenchman by. He’d carried out what was requested, and moved apart like a pacemaker in a 1500m race.

Having slowed proper down, Tsunoda then negotiated the Flip 1/2/3 advanced, and headed down the straight to Flip 4. They key now was to not danger any penalty by impeding one other driver.

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT02

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT02

Picture by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

Crew: “OK, good job, Sainz is 12 behind.”

He then crawled round Turns 4, 5 and 6.

Crew: “Sainz seven behind, pushing. Keep detrimental.”

He nearly got here an entire cease on the brief straight that adopted, so eager was he to remain nicely out of the way in which of the Ferrari driver.

That detrimental message was an essential one – in impact it was a rush up, Spini reminding him that he couldn’t go too slowly, and needed to sustain the required minimal velocity for an in-lap.

Crew: “After which we now have Perez 4 behind, pushing. Pushing.”

Tsunoda was now within the quick esses part, the place it’s all too straightforward to get in the way in which. To remain away from Perez he briefly sped up after which drove straight onto the run-off space at Flip 10, in an effort to depart a transparent monitor for the Crimson Bull driver. It’s a typical transfer in such circumstances – however it threw up a large cloud of mud.

Crew: “Perez behind you. And Verstappen three behind. F***!”

It was at this level that Spini realised that Perez had gone off the highway, becoming a member of Tsunoda within the run-off, and that each vehicles had then doubtlessly interfered with the intently following Verstappen’s lap.

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT02

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT02

Picture by: Glenn Dunbar / Motorsport Images

After a pause Tsunoda stated: “I imply I let him previous actually… I didn’t do something there.”

Spini carried on monitoring approaching vehicles as his driver headed down the again straight in direction of the stadium.

Leclerc and Bottas swept by on the straight, after which after getting into the stadium, Tsunoda turned sharp left and lower throughout the tarmac infield, permitting Hamilton a transparent run by the twisty bits. He then headed into the pits and got here to a cease within the pitlane, the place the radio chat continued.

“I couldn’t do something,” he stated.

“Perceive, you gave him house,” stated Spini. “You couldn’t do something extra. Understood.”

Then Spini added: “So Yuki, we’re in entrance of Norris, and Gasly P5. So very good job.”

Spini might have tried onerous to keep up a Positive vibe, however the proverbial had already hit the fan as replays of the incident had been proven, and a fruity radio message from Verstappen was performed.

Having aborted his last lap and realised that his dream of ranging from pole at his dwelling race was gone, Perez stated nothing till he bought again to the pitlane and stopped in parc ferme. His message was brief however not candy: “Ahhhh, f***’s sake.”

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing RB16B

Sergio Perez, Crimson Bull Racing RB16B

Picture by: Charles Coates / Motorsport Images

On seeing the 2 vehicles off the highway, Verstappen had lifted briefly, anticipating a yellow that by no means got here.

The marshals on the nook had understood the importance of calling for a yellow with vehicles on their last laps, and as an alternative acted like a referee waving play on, and never whistling for a foul.

Verstappen quickly realised that there was no yellow, however the injury to his lap was carried out even earlier than he locked up at Flip 13 within the stadium. He then had a wobble onto the pit straight. After crossing the road he stated, “Ah for f*** sake, what occurred there in entrance of me?”

“Not fairly certain,” replied his engineer Gianpiero Lambiase. “Gradual button on, please Max. Tsunoda simply, I dunno, parked it, so Checo needed to again out.”

“Unbelievable, such a dumb fool,” replied Verstappen.

Shortly afterwards within the press convention the Dutchman expanded on how issues had unfolded.

“I don’t know what occurred in entrance of me, however it should have been Yuki holding up first Checo after which each of them, in fact, needed to go huge,” he stated.

“You arrive so fast it’s tough to pinpoint what’s taking place. I simply noticed lots of mud, so I assumed a automotive crashed and now with the yellow flag guidelines, I’ve been caught with that already right here in Mexico [in 2019], I backed out of it a bit.

Max Verstappen, Red Bull Racing, in Parc Ferme after Qualifying

Max Verstappen, Crimson Bull Racing, in Parc Ferme after Qualifying

Picture by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

“After which no yellow flag got here so I continued pushing, however in fact that’s already like two-and-a-half tenths gone. So, my lap was principally completed.”

Horner was fast so as to add his view, saying: “I don’t perceive why he was simply cruising round at that a part of the circuit. It’s disappointing, as a result of it affected each of the drivers as a result of they’re each fairly aggravated.”

By now the momentum was constructing, and Tsunoda was broadly seen to be at fault, though not all of those that rushed to judgement understood that he had pushed off the highway to get out of the way in which.

When he met the media instantly after qualifying, he nonetheless wasn’t certain exactly what occurred. Nonetheless because the potential ramifications of getting upset the Crimson Bull administration turned clear he seemed like a deer caught in headlights.

“I did not mess up the Crimson Bulls,” he stated. “Only a mistake by themselves. I do not learn about Max? Did I maintain up Max as nicely?”

Proven a video clip by a workforce member he stated: “I went exterior and I could not do something greater than that one. I imply, I do not know, the place ought to I’m going there?

“If I had one other likelihood I would do the identical factor. I do not know what ought to I do? Do you assume I did mistaken factor?”

Perez urged that he’d gone off as a result of he’d misplaced downforce attributable to Tsunoda being in entrance.

“Yuki was simply forward,” he stated. “I believe I used to be a bit too shut, and I misplaced a bit an excessive amount of already, as a result of we undergo the excessive velocity and it is fairly tough by there when you may have an in depth automotive forward of you. And sadly I misplaced it there.”

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri

Picture by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Provided that Tsunoda was working slowly, would the aero impression actually have been that nice? Or was it extra a case that Perez was merely distracted momentarily by the big cloud of mud thrown up by the AlphaTauri when it motored onto the run-off, which Tsunoda couldn’t have foreseen?

Perez was proper on the ragged edge, gunning for pole at his dwelling race, with a automotive that frustratingly wasn’t pretty much as good because it had been just a few hours earlier when he topped FP3.

He was additionally pressured to dig even deeper to attempt to a lot the shocking tempo of Mercedes in qualifying. It wouldn’t have taken very a lot to tip him over that edge, and ship him off the highway.

Don’t neglect how uncommon it’s for a driver to be working slowly on the finish of Q3. Perez wouldn’t have been anticipating to return throughout a sluggish shifting automotive that was actively attempting to remain out of his means, and he wasn’t instructed by his workforce to be careful for a sluggish automotive. Like Verstappen, he noticed the mud and assumed that there had been an incident.

In the long run, it was moot. Whereas Horner famous that each drivers had been up on their earlier occasions earlier than they got here throughout Tsunoda, they weren’t going quick sufficient to have knocked Bottas and Hamilton off the entrance row, as Toto Wolff identified.

“I believe at that stage, sector one and sector two, they had been behind,” he stated. “I believe it was one thing like two-tenths or two-and-a-half tenths.”

The underside line was it was simply a kind of issues, and it was important too that there wasn’t even a touch of an FIA impeding investigation. Just a few seconds both means and Tsunoda would have been trundling down a straight when Perez and Verstappen handed by, and it wouldn’t have been a difficulty.

Sergio Perez, Red Bull Racing, and Christian Horner, Team Principal, Red Bull Racing

Sergio Perez, Crimson Bull Racing, and Christian Horner, Crew Principal, Crimson Bull Racing

Picture by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

It was an unlucky co-incidence that the vehicles affected had been the 2 Crimson Bulls. The incident made for some stress between the AlphaTauri and RBR camps, and it was clear that Franz Tost wasn’t blissful that his man had taken such a verbal beating from all sides.

“I completely don’t perceive why Perez went additionally off the monitor there,” he stated.

“Yuki went to the aspect as all of the drivers do in qualifying to make a spot for the vehicles which might be coming behind that are on a qualifying lap, he was not on a qualifying lap.

“It’s as straightforward as that. Due to this fact I don’t perceive something about this.”

Franz Tost, Team Principal, AlphaTauri, in the team principals Press Conference

Franz Tost, Crew Principal, AlphaTauri, within the workforce principals Press Convention

Picture by: FIA Pool

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