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AlphaTauri to investigate Tsunoda's issue

NEWS STORY
05/09/2022

AlphaTauri is to investigate the issue with Yuki Tsunoda's car that left him "drifting" on the straight and helped turn the Dutch Grand Prix on its head.

Though not exactly up there with the controversy of Abu Dhabi, Yuki Tsunoda and his team's actions during the Dutch Grand Prix set social media alight, once again raising the spectre of last December's title decider.

After leaving the pits following his second stop, Tsunoda complained that there was an issue with his car, the Japanese feeling that a rear wheel was loose.

Parking by the side of the track and preparing to get out of the car, he was advised by his team that there was no issue and that he should head back to the pits.

On arrival at the pits, while members of his crew changed his tyres, others focussed on his seatbelts which he had loosened out on track when he originally thought he was retiring.

Sent on his way again, moments later the Japanese was told to stop his car immediately as his team had discovered an issue in its data.

All this came at a time race leader Max Verstappen was under pressure from the Mercedes pair, and scepticism that Tsunoda's original stop was intended to bring about a safety car in order to allow the Dutchman a 'free' pit stop turned to outrage when the AlphaTauri driver pitted, returned to the race and was promptly told to stop again... thus causing the VSC to be deployed... and eventually enabling Verstappen to pit.

"I thought there was an issue, it was quite clear, especially in the rear," explained Tsunoda. "That's why I got the call from my engineer to stop, but we didn't see any clear issue in the data, that's why we drove back again to fit a new set of tyres.

"After that, we saw a clear problem in the data, that's why we stopped," he added. "When I accelerated out of the pit exit, I felt like just one wheel was having wheel-spin. I was drifting along the straight, and counter-steering along it, so that's why I didn't think it was normal."

While social media went into meltdown, the Faenza-based outfit's chief engineer for vehicle performance, Claudio Balestri confirmed that there had been a "failure".

After the pit stop, he reported something strange at the rear of the car, we called him in again to change the tyres and immediately after we had a car failure," he said. "This is currently under investigation within the team."

Tsunoda, who had been looking good for a points finish at the time of his retirement, was subsequently handed a reprimand for driving with his seatbelt loosened. This being his fifth of the season it is likely the Japanese will face a grid penalty at Monza next weekend.

Check out our Sunday gallery from Zandvoort here.

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