Yuki Tsunoda launches furious rant at AlphaTauri over crash fears

Jamie Woodhouse
Yuki Tsunoda speaking with an AlphaTauri engineer. Australia April 2023

Yuki Tsunoda speaking with an AlphaTauri engineer on the grid before the race. Australia April 2023

An angry Yuki Tsunoda flew off the handle with his AlphaTauri team after being encouraged to up his pace in the treacherous Monaco conditions.

The Monaco Grand Prix started dry and remained so throughout the opening half of the action, but eventually the cluster of predictions across the teams that rain was coming came true.

And with the intermediate tyres then called into action, this compound was suiting McLaren’s Lando Norris perfectly, the Brit harrying Tsunoda for P9.

Tsunoda’s team then were looking to give the Japanese racer a gentle nudge to up the pace, his race engineer suggesting he attempted to do that via the braking zones.

Then came an angry reply though from Tsunoda, who hit back with: “I know but this brake sucks!”

Tsunoda’s race engineer was not deterred, though the next attempt at encouragement was met with Tsunoda’s reply of: “Are you trying to crash me or what?”

Norris was able to make the pass on Tsunoda, who sunk down the order further from there, his cause not helped by a trip into the run-off at Mirabeau.

And speaking to media after the race, which Tsunoda finished in P15, he went into further detail on the braking issue which he said was exposed by the wet weather.

“I struggled the whole week, in dry conditions it was okay, but when this rain started the brake issue got exaggerated,” he explained.

“I couldn’t do anything and the pace was really bad. It was really hard and I just had to back off a lot to not crash, and at least I didn’t damage my car, but really tricky to handle it.”

Tsunoda went into further detail on the feeling behind the wheel of that AT04 in the wet, describing himself as “a passenger”, while the way his race turned was a twist of fate which is “hard to accept”.

“It’s a tough result because we showed good pace and were in control, especially in the dry,” he said.

“With the rain starting, the timing of our pit stop from the mediums to the intermediates was perfect, so the team did a good job with that.

“The issue with the brakes I had all weekend amplified in the rain, and it was difficult to control and manage the situation. I felt like a passenger from then until the end of the race.

“Of course, I am frustrated, and so is the team, because points were possible today. It’s hard to accept it, there are still things which need to be improved, but there are certainly positives to take from this weekend. We will now reset ourselves and focus on Barcelona.”

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AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton reflected on what he termed a “super frustrating end to the race”, having believed both Tsunoda and Nyck de Vries were in a strong position before the issues set in.

“Everything was going to plan for Yuki, his pace was good and he was able to manage tyre graining,” Egginton said.

“Nyck was in a similar situation and, although he struggled a bit longer with graining, his pace was also good and he could move away from the pack behind once the tyres came back.

“So in the dry portion of the race, both cars were reasonably well placed regardless if it rained or not. The rain came and we boxed both cars on the same lap for inters, which was the right call.

“However, Yuki immediately struggled with his brakes even with multiple adjustments to try and bring them in. They remained inconsistent, meaning he could not push the braking phases, hence his lap times suffered, both McLarens got past and he went off.

“Nyck was less affected by this issue and could achieve a good lap time progression on the inter tyre, but even with the rain it was not possible to get him into the points today – it’s never easy in Monaco.

“Overall, the car showed good pace in qualifying and during the dry part of the race here, which is promising, but not being able to finish the job and score the points which were there to be taken is very disappointing, especially on a day where we had one car ahead of all of our closest competitors.

“We now must understand the issues with braking, there is still much to learn about the aero update, and we look forward to taking the next step with the car in Barcelona.”

Monaco marked the first time that Tsunoda has finished a race behind his rookie AlphaTauri team-mate De Vries who crossed the line P12.