Yuki Tsunoda said he had begun to celebrate a points finish at the Spanish Grand Prix, before his name suddenly disappeared from view on the timing screens and his dashboard.
The AlphaTauri driver was hit with a five-second penalty after being found to have forced Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu off track while the two battled into Turn 1 in Barcelona on Sunday, which proved costly for Tsunoda.
He crossed the line ninth but ended up dropping out of the points altogether, much to his frustration and annoyance, given he felt the penalty was undeserved in the first place after his battle with Zhou.
With AlphaTauri having struggled for points so far this season, Tsunoda revealed he had started to celebrate after crossing the line on Sunday before his smile was quickly wiped from his face after a period of confusion following the end of the race.
“I heard after the chequered flag,” he told Channel 4 when asked about when he heard about his penalty.
“So after I was actually celebrating myself after the chequered flag and I heard [about] a five-second penalty.
“Well actually also I saw it [on the] dashboard, like, timing screen. My name suddenly disappeared from P9 so like, ‘oh, what’s happened there?’ and I heard information in the radio [asking] you know what I got? I got a five-second penalty. So it’s really tough.”
Tsunoda received a double whammy of penalty points on his Super Licence as well as a time penalty from Spain, which compounded a miserable double-header from his perspective.
He was running comfortably inside the points in Monaco too, before a braking problem saw him fall back down the order towards the end.
The Japanese driver has been encouraged by the progress AlphaTauri have made after a difficult start to the season, particularly in race pace, but urged the team to get on top of their Saturday form as a next port of call.
“Monaco I was also driving P9 and, in the end, I lost the positions with a bit of an issue and this time also I was driving P9, so as a team we’re doing a good job, especially in the race,” he said of his recent troubles.
“Obviously, we have to fight stronger in qualifying so we can start from a higher position so we can have a little bit easier fight, which we’re aiming for.
“But the positive thing is so far the race pace is pretty good. So we just definitely keep things positive, and level up through the year as much as possible to have more consistent, better pace and to be able to fight a bit better.”