AlphaTauri issue damning statement on ‘unacceptable’ foul play accusations

Henry Valantine
Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri is airlifted. Zandvoort September 2022.

The stricken AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda is lifted off track. Zandvoort September 2022.

AlphaTauri have released a strongly-worded statement condemning accusations levelled at Red Bull and themselves over Yuki Tsunoda’s retirement from the Dutch Grand Prix.

The team have railed against “hateful behaviour” directed at Red Bull’s chief strategist, Hannah Schmitz, online overnight, as well as stating in the strongest possible terms they compete independently of Red Bull.

The statement comes after Tsunoda’s retirement from the race at Zandvoort came at a time when Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was coincidentally able to pit and retain track position over Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and George Russell as the race unfolded.

That led to conspiracy theories emerge online that Tsunoda, who had first pulled over to the side of the track thinking a wheel was incorrectly fitted, was then sent back out of the pits again knowingly with an issue that would bring yellow flag conditions to the track.

The FIA stewards investigated the incident after the race and found Tsunoda had a problem with the differential on his AT03, which ultimately forced him to retire.

As a result of the online abuse directed at AlphaTauri and Red Bull after the race, the team issued a statement condemning any suggestion of foul play.

AlphaTauri said: “It is incredibly disheartening to read some of the language and comments directed at our team and towards Red Bull Racing’s head of strategy, Hannah Schmitz.

“Such hateful behaviour cannot be tolerated, and to entertain accusations of foul play is unacceptable, untrue and completely disrespectful towards both Hannah and us.

“We have always competed independently, fairly and with the highest levels of respect and sportsmanship.

“Yuki had a failure that the team didn’t immediately detect which caused him to stop on track. To suggest anything different is insulting and categorically incorrect.”

Tsunoda received a reprimand for loosening his safety belts when he thought he would retire, but the stewards cleared AlphaTauri after being investigated for sending their car out of the pit lane in an unsafe condition.

Their verdict read: “The car was not in an unsafe condition when released from its pit-stop position. However, during the hearing, the driver admitted that after stopping on track he was ready to abandon the car and started to loosen the safety belt, without unlocking it.”