Yuki Tsunoda facing 10-place Italian GP grid drop after Zandvoort reprimand

Jon Wilde
Yuki Tsunoda ruffling his hair. Paul Ricard July 2022.

Yuki Tsunoda looks set to face a 10-place grid penalty at the Italian Grand Prix – due to the number of reprimands he has racked up this season.

The Japanese driver incurred his fifth reprimand of 2022 from the stewards at the Dutch Grand Prix, amid the circumstances of his bizarre retirement.

On two occasions in short succession from lap 47, Tsunoda stopped his AlphaTauri car at the side of the Zandvoort circuit in the belief his race was over.

The first time, the 22-year-old thought his tyres were not fitted properly and was advised to get going again by his team. After a visit to the pits, he went on his way but then pulled over with a terminal issue in the AT03.

The reprimand, however, was issued because when he first stopped, Tsunoda loosened his seatbelts in anticipation of climbing out of the car.

He therefore drove back to the pits not fully belted up, and mechanics were seen delving into the cockpit to fully re-attach them before the driver headed back out only to then retire from the race on his next lap.

Having been summoned to the stewards, the FIA’s report on the Tsunoda series of events read: “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.

“After that, he travelled back to the pits where the mechanics re-fastened the belts. It is not possible to determine exactly to which degree the seatbelt had been loosened by the driver.”

It was deemed Tsunoda had been “driving on track in unsafe condition” and he received a reprimand in the non-driving category.

That was his fifth reprimand of the season, all of the other four having been for driving offences.

They occurred at the Bahrain and Australian Grands Prix – each for impeding a different Ferrari driver during FP2 – a second misdemeanour in Melbourne for driving unnecessarily slowly on an in-lap in qualifying, and in Monaco for impeding Kevin Magnussen during FP2.

The rules were changed this year to raise the threshold to five reprimands from three for a driver to trigger a grid penalty.

Four of those five need to be for driving offences, which meant any kind of reprimand after Monaco would mean Tsunoda facing a 10-place grid drop.

That point has now been reached, and therefore Tsunoda can expect to start the Italian Grand Prix well down on the position in which he qualifies.