Yuki Tsunoda hits out at ‘ridiculous’ penalty after perceived Zhou Guanyu gamesmanship

Jamie Woodhouse
Yuki Tsunoda ruffling his hair. Paul Ricard July 2022.

Yuki Tsunoda ruffling his hair in the AlphaTauri garage. Paul Ricard July 2022.

Yuki Tsunoda says Zhou Guanyu knew exactly what he was doing by going off-track in their Spanish GP battle, and was shocked to be handed a penalty for the incident.

It was on Lap 56 of 66 when Zhou attempted to get his Alfa Romeo ahead of Tsunoda’s AlphaTauri, and both drivers would get their elbows out.

Zhou went for a look around the outside of Tsunoda into Turn 1, holding out for what becomes the inside line through Turn 2.

But as Tsunoda dug his heels in, Zhou would take to the escape road, promptly jumping on team radio to complain that Tsunoda had “pushed me off”.

From the footage it initially seemed like a claim that would perhaps fall on deaf ears, though the stewards did decide to take a look and ultimately handed Tsunoda a five-second time penalty for forcing Zhou off the track.

That then meant that once the time was added as Tsunoda crossed the line, he fell out of the points to P12, with Zhou inheriting his P9 spot and the two points which come with it.

And it is safe to say that Tsunoda has not taken the steward’s verdict well, accusing Zhou of “pretending” to have run out of space and needing to leave the track, when in reality there was no need to.

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“It was a ridiculous penalty and it feels really unfair,” said Tsunoda as per Motorsport.com.

“When I saw [Zhou coming], I left the room and I feel like he just gave up in the early stages.

“He went outside and pretended like he got forced out, but he didn’t. Definitely, there was still space outside.

“Obviously I gave him pressure but there’s still space, so I don’t understand why it was a penalty. It feels really unfair, really harsh.”

Tsunoda also was not too pleased with the way Race Control handled this situation, with the decision having been made without any input from either team or driver.

The whole ordeal then has left the Japanese racer feeling “exhausted” and “flat”.

“I just heard and after chequered flag, which I was really happy. But after that radio, I was really disappointed,” said Tsunoda.

“At the same time, [I felt] a bit curious… It is good to have a bit of discussion with the FIA because they give five seconds without any discussion and the race is over.

“So, it feels unfair. [I feel] exhausted, flat.”

AlphaTauri then did not take any points away from the Spanish Grand Prix with Nyck de Vries in the sister AT04 finishing P14.

The team then remains P9 in the Constructors’ standings with only two points to show for the opening seven rounds.