Dutch GP: Mercedes’ Toto Wolff questions Yuki Tsunoda DNF and says Lewis Hamilton win ‘was on’

The Virtual Safety Car is deployed when AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda is forced to pull over to the side of the track.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

The Virtual Safety Car is deployed when AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda is forced to pull over to the side of the track.

The Virtual Safety Car is deployed when AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda is forced to pull over to the side of the track.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has raised questions about Yuki Tsunoda’s bizarre stoppage at the Netherlands GP, insisting that had it not been for the stoppage, Lewis Hamilton would have had a huge chance of beating Max Verstappen.

Sunday’s riveting race appeared to be heading towards Hamilton’s first win of the season as he chased Verstappen on much faster tyres, with the Red Bull driver having to pit again.

But that was turned on its head when on lap 48 of 72 a Virtual Safety Car was called due to an odd Tsunoda stop.

Tsunoda, who drives for Red Bull’s sister team AlphaTauri, reported tire problems and appeared poised to retire from the race as he stopped and unbuckled his seat belts before being called back to the pits. After a series of checks – including refastening his seat belts – Tsunoda was sent back on track, only for his team to tell him to stop after just four corners.

Lewis Hamilton vents his frustration at Mercedes' strategic decisions during the Dutch Grand Prix over team radio.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Lewis Hamilton vents his frustration at Mercedes’ strategic decisions during the Dutch Grand Prix over team radio.

Lewis Hamilton vents his frustration at Mercedes’ strategic decisions during the Dutch Grand Prix over team radio.

The VSC was then called and gave Verstappen an effective free stop to retain his lead – while later overtaking Hamilton after a full safety car, with the Mercedes driver eventually finishing fourth.

Red Bull boss Christian Horner insisted it wasn’t really playing into Verstappen’s hands, but Wolff opened the door to the conspiracy theories that have surfaced online since the events.

“If we were fighting for a championship, I would take a close look at it,” admitted the Mercedes team boss when asked whether the responsible FIA ​​​​should investigate the incident.

“Now I’m thinking what needs to be looked into for the safety of drivers and everyone out there.

Max Verstappen passes Lewis Hamilton during the restart after the end of the safety car at the Dutch Grand Prix.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Max Verstappen passes Lewis Hamilton during the restart after the end of the safety car at the Dutch Grand Prix.

Max Verstappen passes Lewis Hamilton during the restart after the end of the safety car at the Dutch Grand Prix.

“The driver stopped, unbuckled, did a full lap, came in, the problem wasn’t solved, they put the seat belts back on and he pulled out and stopped the car again.

“That probably changed the outcome of the race, which we might have been able to win.”

Wolff said that without the VSC, Verstappen would have left the pits up to eight seconds behind Hamilton.

“I think we had a fair chance of winning,” he added. “The race planner said victory was in order. It was very close, but it was in.”

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff defends the team's strategy and insists they must take risks to have any chance of victory.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff defends the team’s strategy and insists they must take risks to have any chance of victory.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff defends the team’s strategy and insists they must take risks to have any chance of victory.

Tsunoda’s problem was confirmed to be a broken differential, while he also received a reprimand – which earned him a 10-place penalty for this weekend’s Italian GP – for driving with loose seat belts.

Giving his version of events, Japanese driver Tsunoda, 22, said: “I thought there was a problem and a problem with the left rear tyre, so my engineer told me to stop.

“But we didn’t see a clear problem in the data. So we got back together to go back to the pits to fit a new tire. But after that we saw a clear problem in the data, so we stopped [for a second time].”

When asked what the bug was, Tsunoda replied, “I don’t know.”

Former F1 World Champion Damon Hill speaks to Sky Sports News about why Lewis Hamilton was frustrated by Team Mercedes during the Dutch Grand Prix.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Former F1 World Champion Damon Hill speaks to Sky Sports News about why Lewis Hamilton was frustrated by Team Mercedes during the Dutch Grand Prix.

Former F1 World Champion Damon Hill speaks to Sky Sports News about why Lewis Hamilton was frustrated by Team Mercedes during the Dutch Grand Prix.

“You Can’t Orchestrate That”: Dive into the Tsunoda DNF

Asked after the race after Tsunoda’s controversial stoppage, SkySports F1 Paul Di Resta was adamant.

“You can’t orchestrate that,” he said.

The radio messages support the assumption that this cannot have been manipulated.

Tsunoda repeatedly said on lap 45 that his “tires are not mounted”, leading to AlphaTauri telling him to “stop in a safe place on a track”.

Lewis Hamilton apologized for criticizing Mercedes' strategy over team radio and admitted he was

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Lewis Hamilton apologized for criticizing Mercedes’ strategy over team radio and admitted he was “on the edge of the emotional boundary”.

Lewis Hamilton apologized for criticizing Mercedes’ strategy over team radio and admitted he was “on the edge of the emotional boundary”.

Thirty seconds later they told him his “tires are fine, start again” and said “we’ll box, we’ll fit another tire and we’ll go out” – making it clear that they always intended to send Tsunoda out again , and hoped a tire change would help.

Immediately on exiting the pits, Tsunoda said, “Something’s wrong, something weird in the back. That’s broken, I think.”

AlphaTauri then replied: “Stop, stop, stop in a safe place.”

The failure was later diagnosed as a cracked differential, a rare occurrence in F1 racing.

“The FIA ​​have all the information, all the team radios,” Di Resta added. “Yuki is out there doing his own thing and AlphaTauri are their own team.

“And I don’t think the race was ultimately lost there [for Hamilton].”

Alpha Tauri responds to online hate after Tsunoda DNF

Following the online response to the incident, Alpha Tauri has brought up the “hateful behavior” towards her team and Red Bull Racing chief of strategy Hannah Schmitz.

In a statement released on social media, the team said: “It is incredibly disheartening to read some of the statements and comments addressed to our team and to Hannah Schmitz, red Bull Racing’s Head of Strategy.

“Such hateful behavior cannot be tolerated and allegations of foul play are unacceptable, untrue and utterly disrespectful to both Hannah and us.

“We have always competed independently, fairly and with the utmost respect and sportsmanship.

“Yuki made a mistake that the team didn’t immediately notice, which caused him to stall on the track.

“To suggest otherwise is offensive and categorically wrong.”

Sky Sports remains committed to the Hate Won’t Win campaign and is committed to making social media platforms a place for comment and debate, free of abuse, hate and profanity.

Leave a Comment