We got Tsunoda'd declares Horner


Red Bull boss, Christian Horner faced a fan backlash after appearing to throw Yuki Tsunoda under the bus following qualifying shock.

Speaking in the moments after Red Bull's shock defeat in qualifying, rather than blame his drivers, a tyre issue or an apparent problem with the rear wings, Christian Horner blamed AlphaTauri rookie, Yuki Tsunoda for one of the biggest upsets of the season.

Running ahead of the two Bulls, the Japanese had gone wide after appearing to make a mistake, throwing up a cloud of dust in the process.

Distracted by the dust and the sight of the AlphaTauri running wide, Sergio Perez made a similar mistake, while behind, unclear what was going on, Max Verstappen lost pace.

"I was on for a good lap," said the Dutchman, "but then I don't know what happened in front of me but there were two guys going off so I thought there was going to be a yellow flag, so I backed out and the lap is of course destroyed.

"Even with that and not having a great balance I think we could still have gone for that pole lap," he added. "Third is not amazing but I think it's still better than starting second."

"I think we got Tsunoda'd!" team boss, Horner subsequently told Sky Sports. "Both drivers were up on their last lap, Max was up two and a half tenths, I think Checo was just under two-tenths up, and I don't understand why he was just cruising around at that part of the circuit.

"So it's disappointing as it affected both the drivers. They're both pretty annoyed, but we're still second row of the grid and can have a great race from there."

Horner's comments provoked an angry reaction on social media from fans who felt that the Briton was throwing Tsunoda under the bus for a qualifying turnaround that was essentially down to Red Bull.

Indeed, the Japanese, who will start 17th following his engine penalty, took to Twitter to say: "Happy with my qualifying today. However in the end there is nothing more I could have done in that situation. Tomorrow we will fight for every place."

Quick to jump to his defence was AlphaTauri team boss, Franz Tost.

"We said to him on the radio that the Red Bulls are coming and he just go] off the track so that they could pass easily," said the Austrian. "Perez followed him, it's not Yuki's fault.

"He didn't make a mistake," he added. "He did it deliberately. We said to him, the Red Bulls are coming, Perez is coming, and he deliberately went to the side not to disturb them or not to be in front of them."

Asked why Perez had gone off, Tost admitted: "To be honest, I absolutely don't understand why he went also off the track there. "Yuki went to the side, as all the drivers do in qualifying to make space for the cars which are coming behind which are on a qualifying lap.

"He was not on a qualifying lap... easy as that, therefore I don't understand anything about this."

With work having been carried out to the rear wings on both cars, it was put to Horner that this could have played a part in his team's turnaround in pace.

"We saw something in P3 and we just wanted to add a bit of protection into those rear wings," he said. "It was more precautionary than anything else, so nothing that would affect the performance.

"The guys will have a good look at it tonight, but I think the modification that's been done has addressed any concerns," he added. "We were just concerned with a bit of fatigue that we'd seen; nothing serious but we just wanted to take no risk from it."

Looking ahead to the race, where the Bulls best opportunity appears to be getting the jump on the Mercedes at the start, Horner said: "You've got to be careful around here because you can't follow for too long, because the temperatures all start to get out of control.

"I think the first opportunity is down into Turn 1," he continued. "You've only got to look at the replays from 2019 here to see it can get a bit juicy down there.

"The tow is strongest obviously on that first lap, so it's going to be grandstand seats down there, but we need to have a good start with both the drivers and try and get a run.

"You've still got Valtteri ahead of Lewis," he added. "Lewis is on the dirty side, Max is on the clean side.

"As I say, it's all going to be about where they are after the first lap, and then of course the strategy will come into play. We believe we should have a quick race car here, so disappointed in today, but still optimistic for tomorrow. We can still have a good race."

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Published: 07/11/2021
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