Tsunoda slates ‘ridiculous’ penalty after Zhou clash

Yuki Tsunoda believes he has been harshly treated in being handed a Spanish GP penalty that cost him points

Yuki Tsunoda believes he has been harshly treated in being handed a Spanish GP penalty that cost him points

Yuki Tsunoda has slated as “ridiculous” and “very harsh” a time penalty that cost him points in the Spanish Grand Prix.

The AlphaTauri driver took the chequered flag at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya in ninth position, which would have been his best result of what has so far been a tricky season.

Tsunoda, however, was demoted to 12th due to the addition of a five-second penalty for forcing Alfa Romeo’s Zhou Guanyu off track. The decision helped elevate the Chinese driver to ninth to match his best result this year.

The decision centred around an incident through Turn 1 on lap 59 as Tsunoda defended ninth place from Zhou.

Zhou managed to edge marginally ahead but on the approach to Turn 2 opted to take to the run-off area and the escape road that allowed him to return to the track.

Despite on-board footage showing Tsunoda steering away from a potential collision, the stewards deemed him to be at fault, with the penalty undermining his hard work during the race.

A stewards’ report read: “Car 24 (Zhou) was in front at, and after, the apex of Turn 1 and hence under the driving standards guidelines was entitled to racing room. Car 22 (Tsunoda) moved across to the outside of the corner, forcing Car 24 off the track.”

Asked about the incident, Zhou said: “It was a ridiculous penalty, and it feels really unfair.

“I left him room, and I feel like he just gave it up in the early stages and he pretended he got forced out.

“There was definitely still space outside there. Obviously, I applied pressure but there was still space so I don’t understand why I got a penalty. It’s very harsh.”

Tsunoda conceded to feeling “exhausted” and “flat” as a result of the penalty.

He added: “My race pace was really good. I gave it my all, literally everything but I lost my points in the end, so very disappointed.

“I didn’t hear about it (the penalty) until after the chequered flag. I was really happy but then disappointed.”

Believing he should have been allowed to argue his case, he said: “It’s good to have a bit of a discussion with the FIA but they gave me five seconds without discussion, and the race is over.”

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