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Formula 1 Spanish GP

Tsunoda slams "ridiculous" F1 Spanish GP penalty for Zhou defence

AlphaTauri Formula 1 driver Yuki Tsunoda has called out the “ridiculous” and “really unfair” penalty he copped in the 2023 Spanish Grand Prix after Zhou Guanyu “pretended” to run wide.

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT04, battles with Zhou Guanyu, Alfa Romeo C43

On lap 56 of 66 in a round dominated by Red Bull driver Max Verstappen, Alfa Romeo racer Zhou used DRS to challenge Tsunoda for ninth place around the outside into the Turn 1 right-hander.

But as the corner transitioned into Turn 2, Zhou appeared to jink his machine to the left to then take to the escape road before he rejoined the circuit several car lengths behind Tsunoda.

The FIA stewards reviewed the incident and ruled Zhou to have been in front at the apex of Turn 1 so he was therefore entitled to racing room.

With Tsunoda found to be in breach of the International Sporting Code, he was handed a five-second penalty to drop to a point-less 12th place. Meanwhile, Zhou scored two points for ninth.

Asked by Autosport for his reaction, Tsunoda said: “It was a ridiculous penalty and it feels really unfair.”

Recalling his version of events, Tsunoda reckoned Zhou had “pretended” to run out of room and that there was “definitely” space for the Alfa Romeo to remain on track.

He said: "When I saw [Zhou coming], I left the room and I feel like he just gave up in the early stages.

“He went outside and pretended like he got forced out, but he didn't. Definitely, there was still space outside.

“Obviously I gave him pressure but there's still space, so I don't understand why it was a penalty. It feels really unfair, really harsh.”

Yuki Tsunoda, Scuderia AlphaTauri in the paddock

Yuki Tsunoda, Scuderia AlphaTauri in the paddock

Photo by: Jake Grant / Motorsport Images

Tsunoda said he was not aware of the penalty until he had reached the finish and reckoned both driver and team should have been able to offer their defence to the FIA before the final verdict was given.

He said: “I just heard and after chequered flag, which I was really happy. But after that radio, I was really disappointed.

“At the same time, [I felt] a bit curious… It is good to have a bit of discussion with the FIA because they give five seconds without any discussion and the race is over.

“So, it feels unfair… [I feel] exhausted, flat.”

Zhou, by contrast, reckoned it was a slam-dunk penalty for Tsunoda. He said: “It was very straightforward.

“I was ahead before braking into Turn 1 and then mid-corner, I was actually giving a lot of space. Then I just saw him [and he] wasn't stopping.

“[He tried] to release the brakes [but he] ran me off, which I had to take avoiding action and [use the] escape road, otherwise we would be crashing together.

“So, that was tricky after that because I had so much rubbish on my tyre. But then, in the end, I was able to keep behind him in the right position and get the position back.”

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