The AlphaTauri Formula 1 team has issued a statement hitting back against “unacceptable, untrue and completely disrespectful accusations of foul play” in the wake of Yuki Tsunoda’s race-influencing retirement from the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort.
The virtual safety car brought out by AlphaTauri driver Tsunoda’s exit allowed Max Verstappen to consolidate his lead by minimising the time loss from a pitstop he was always going to have to make – although both Verstappen and team boss Christian Horner maintained in the aftermath that the timing of the VSC stoppage was actually not advantageous to Red Bull.
The sequence of events that led to the VSC, however, raised many eyebrows, with Tsunoda first pulling over with what he thought was a loose wheel, then being told to rejoin the race, then crawling back to the pits while reporting a potential differential failure and finally being sent out again upon which he restated his belief there was a “broken diff” and was told to pull over for good.
The FIA issued Tsunoda a reprimand for having originally driven to the pits with his belts not fully fastened – yet it has given no indication that it had any concerns about the race having been somehow manipulated.
And AlphaTauri has now vehemently hit back at such suggestions, while also making a point to call out the “language and comments” directed not just at the team but at Red Bull’s head of strategy Hannah Schmitz.
“Such hateful behaviour cannot be tolerated, and to entertain accusations of foul play is unacceptable, untrue and completely disrespectful towards Hannah and us,” the team said.
“We have always competed independently, fairly and with the highest levels of respect and sportsmanship.
— Scuderia AlphaTauri (@AlphaTauriF1) September 5, 2022
“Yuki had a failure that the team didn’t immediately detect which caused him to stop on track.
“To suggest anything different is insulting and categorically incorrect.”
Though Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton said during the race that the VSC timing had “screwed” him and his team boss Toto Wolff subsequently said he was rendered “speechless” by how the Tsunoda situation played out, Hamilton appeared to have retweeted a statement of support towards Schmitz published by the ‘Team LH’ Twitter account.
That tweet was subsequently deleted by the account as “the statement issued ended up doing more harm than good”.