Yuki Tsunoda reprimanded for driving in an unsafe condition at Zandvoort

Henry Valantine
Yuki Tsunoda AlphaTauri is airlifted. Zandvoort September 2022.

The stricken AlphaTauri of Yuki Tsunoda is lifted off track. Zandvoort September 2022.

AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda has been reprimanded after being found to have loosened his safety belts after stopping on track in the race.

Specifically, Tsunoda and AlphaTauri had been under investigation under Article 34.14 of Formula 1’s Sporting Regulations, governing against cars being released from the pit lane in an unsafe condition – but the team were not found to have contravened any rules during the race.

Tsunoda pulled over on lap 44 of the Dutch Grand Prix claiming his tyres had not been fitted correctly after a pit-stop, before he was then informed over team radio the team believed his tyres were attached safely for him to continue.

However, the verdict from the stewards confirmed that his car was in a safe condition to drive, as the problem with his AT02 was on his differential and all four wheels had been properly fitted, so the reprimand was awarded solely to the young Japanese driver.

Tsunoda was able to crawl back around to the pit lane again, but after being sent back out on track he pulled over once more and had to retire from the race.

As a result, the team were put under investigation for allegedly sending him out with the car unable to run safely, but Tsunoda himself was found culpable of a non-driving offence instead of the team breaking any rules.

The stewards’ statement read: “While after a pit stop of car 22 the driver stopped the car due to the fact that he felt a wheel being not properly fitted, the investigation by the Stewards led to the conclusion, that in fact there was a problem with the differential.

“Therefore the car was not in an unsafe condition when released from its pit stop position. However, 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.”

The Safety Car was later deployed after Valtteri Bottas had pulled over at Turn 1 on lap 55 of 72, with Verstappen pitting again for soft tyres and swiftly overtaking Hamilton for the lead of the race, ultimately going on to win his home grand prix ahead of George Russell and Charles Leclerc.