Suspected drivetrain issue rules out Tsunoda

Jon Wilde
Front view of Yuki Tsunoda's AlphaTauri. Jeddah March 2022.

Yuki Tsunoda’s withdrawal from the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix reduced the field to 18 starters as the AlphaTauri driver’s miserable weekend continued.

The Japanese racer joined Mick Schumacher in being unable to take his place on the grid, where he had been due to line up right at the back.

Schumacher, of course, had been pulled out of the race on Saturday night by the Haas team after a heavy crash during qualifying, from which he fortunately escaped uninjured.

But Tsunoda’s issues were purely related to the reliability of his car, in which he had been unable to produce a flying lap in Q1 and therefore could not set a time.

On the way to the grid for the race, Tsunoda – who had improved eight places on his grid position to finish eighth in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix – stopped in a run-off area and said over the radio he had lost engine power.

Sitting there for a few moments trying different settings via his steering wheel, the message soon came through to the 21-year-old that it was “over” and he could climb out of the car.

AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost said during an interview with Sky F1’s Johnny Herbert on the grid that a suspected drivetrain problem had caused the stoppage.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner, whose cars have the same engine as sister team AlphaTauri, suggested there had been a “loss of oil pressure” when he too was interviewed pre-race.

Explaining Tsunoda’s troubles during qualifying, AlphaTauri technical director Jody Egginton had said: “Frustratingly for everyone, Yuki had a suspected water system issue during Q1, which meant he was unable to capitalise on the good form he has shown so far here.”

Tsunoda himself added after qualifying: “I didn’t feel anything in the car, but the team told me there was a problem and I had to come in.”

 

AlphaTauri still had Pierre Gasly in with a fine chance of scoring points as he lined up ninth on the grid, having been the first driver to retire from a race in 2022’s new F1 era in Bahrain.