Near-collision penalty for Yuki Tsunoda earns Zhou Guanyu’s approval

Thomas Maher
Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu on track at the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023.

Alfa Romeo's Zhou Guanyu on track at the Spanish Grand Prix. Barcelona, June 2023.

Yuki Tsunoda dropped out of the points due to a time penalty in Spain, awarded to him for a near-miss with Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu.

Zhou Guanyu finished the race at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in ninth place, while Yuki Tsunoda dropped out of the top 10 as a result of a five-second time penalty that was applied to his race time.

This was following a near-collision between the pair as they squabbled for position late in the race, having spent most of the 66-lap Grand Prix in each other’s wheel tracks.

Zhou had gone for a move around the outside of Turn 1, which would have given him the inside for Turn 2, when Tsunoda ran wide to cut off Zhou’s attempt. This forced the Chinese driver onto the escape area and around the bollards to re-join the action.

The stewards took a dim view of Tsunoda’s defence, particularly as there was plenty of overtakes successfully carried out by drivers attempting the same move as Zhou – a move from Pierre Gasly a particular highlight through the opening sequence of corners.

“I think that was the right thing to do, even though I didn’t know he had a penalty,” Zhou told Sky F1, when asked for his opinion on the incident.

“I asked the team to investigate that because, before braking, I was clearly in front and also into the corner.

“The next thing I saw was, mid-corner, Yuki released the brake and went straight into my car and I had to avoid by going off-track. recommends

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“So, I think if the stewards didn’t do that, it would have been quite frustrating so I think they made the right call.”

Unsurprisingly, Tsunoda didn’t quite see things in the same way Zhou had, believing that the penalty he was given was overly harsh.

“I am super disappointed and frustrated,” he said.

“I think the penalty I was given for forcing another driver off the track was very harsh but it’s something I have to accept. There was little space but still, I thought it was enough.”

Zhou’s points, the team’s first since the Australian Grand Prix in April, move Alfa Romeo to a total of eight points for the season – putting them eighth in the Constructors’ Championship and six clear of AlphaTauri.