Tsunoda sprint farce sparked by crash with team-mate De Vries
By Ian Parkes
Sunday 30th April, 2023 - 1:23pm
Yuki Tsunoda has conceded to frustration after enduring a collision with AlphaTauri team-mate Nyck de Vries that brought his sprint race in Azerbaijan to a farcical conclusion.
Television images initially only caught the back end of Tsunoda’s incident which saw him hit a wall at Turn 13 and lose his right-rear tyre which then rolled down the hill after the stricken AT04.
The Japanese driver managed to make it back to the pits for a change of tyres but it was immediately clear there was additional damage as Tsunoda had to hold his steering wheel at 45 degrees in order to keep the car in a straight line.
After again returning to the pits to retire, the team was fined €5000 for releasing the car in an unsafe condition.
Speaking to the written media after the incident, Tsunoda revealed he was “forced into a wall by some driver”, which led to him damaging his front wing, but he declined to name his aggressor.
The team has since confirmed that De Vries was the guilty party.
Head of vehicle performance Guillaume Dezoteux said: “Both cars were racing hard from the start and ended up side by side at the apex of Turn 3.
“Nyck made contact with Yuki’s front wing while exiting the corner, and as a result, Yuki understeered into the wall in Turn 13.
“Unfortunately, the damage to his rear right end brought an end to his race.”
Tsunoda added: “I didn’t realise the front wing was fully damaged and as soon as I turned in I had no grip at all at the front.”
As to him driving sideways at one stage following his pit stop, he remarked: “We changed the tyres but maybe the damage was invisible from the outside and that’s why they sent me out.
“What happened was really frustrating, especially after (grand prix qualifying) because this is a track where it’s a huge opportunity for us but it was not a good sprint day for us.
“I’ll just reset my mind and try to maximise my opportunity as much as possible in the grand prix.”
Tsunoda conceded to relief that under the new sprint format, the result of the sprint no longer sets the grid for the main race.
Instead, Tsunoda will start the grand prix from seventh after his superb performance in the main qualifying on Friday evening.
He added: “I still have hope to score some points, so that’s good.”
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