Yuki Tsunoda ‘frustrated’ after Nyck de Vries contact causes Baku sprint DNF

Oliver Harden
AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda at the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, April 2023.

AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda at the Australian Grand Prix. Melbourne, April 2023.

Yuki Tsunoda has vowed to “reset my mindset” for Sunday’s Azerbaijan Grand Prix after contact with AlphaTauri team-mate Nyck de Vries brought a premature end to his sprint day in Baku. 

Having been one of the stars of the show in Friday qualifying in claiming eighth on the grid for Sunday’s race, the Japanese driver had a day to forget on Saturday.

Caught out by the red flag shortly before finishing a hot lap, Tsunoda was classified a lowly P18 in the new Sprint Shootout session before understeering into the wall at Turn 14 on the opening lap of the race.

Tsunoda returned to the pits and made it back on the track, but soon retired when the damage was proven to be worse than first thought – with AlphaTauri incurring a €5,000 fine for releasing the car in an unsafe condition.

It has since emerged that Tsunoda’s crash came after contact with De Vries as they battled for position at Turn 3 on the first lap of the sprint, with damage to his front wing resulting in his loss of control in the high-speed section towards the end of the Baku lap.

“I just had contact with some driver and I lost my front wing,” Tsunoda told media after the sprint.

“He just didn’t leave me any space and the front wing got damaged [and] I really didn’t really recognise it and went flat out [at Turn 14], which usually I do.

“I mean, I even released a little bit of throttle but I couldn’t control it at all and went into the wall.

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“Really frustrated. Just really frustrated because especially [in] sprint qualifying [I] couldn’t maximise this opportunity, which is really frustrating for us. It’s really frustrating.”

Tsunoda though stressed the importance of overcoming the frustration of Saturday and getting in the right frame of mind for his P8 starting spot on Sunday’s grid.

Asked if he was optimistic about rescuing his weekend, Tsunoda responded: “Yeah, definitely.

“I will definitely reset my mindset for tomorrow and try to score points.”

Tsunoda has now reached Q3 in all three of his visits to Baku but has registered just one points finish in Azerbaijan to date with seventh place in the action-packed 2021 race.

Having been on the fringes of the points in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, Tsunoda got off the mark for 2023 last time out in Australia with 10th place.

Another points finish on Sunday would come in handy for AlphaTauri, who currently sit join-bottom of the Constructors’ Championship with Williams.

The Red Bull B-team announced an upcoming change of leadership ahead of the Azerbaijan GP weekend, with Ferrari race director Laurent Mekies agreeing to succeed long-serving team principal Franz Tost at the end of the season.