The situation that unfolded robbed the AlphaTauri driver of two positions and left him far behind the drivers with whom he ought to have been combating.
Following the controversy in final yr’s Abu Dhabi GP, the FIA determined to automate the system that recognized the lapped vehicles which might be eligible to unlap themselves throughout a security automotive interval.
In Abu Dhabi final yr, just some vehicles have been let previous chief Lewis Hamilton, leaving no site visitors between himself and Max Verstappen, whereas nonetheless leaving vehicles between the Dutchman and Carlos Sainz in third, defending him from an assault by the Ferrari driver.
It additionally sped up the unlapping course of sufficiently to permit time for a restart and provides the Purple Bull driver an opportunity to cross Hamilton and declare the world championship.
The miscounting of lapped vehicles was put right down to a human error by an FIA official working alongside then race director Michael Masi.
To keep away from a repeat, F1’s timing software program was modified to routinely flag vehicles which have been lapped and are thus allowed to cross earlier than the restart.
When the security automotive got here out in Brazil the three lapped vehicles have been the AlphaTauri of Tsunoda and the Williams pairing of Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi.
Tsunoda was proper behind chief George Russell within the queue when AlphaTauri took the chance to pit the Japanese driver for brand spanking new tyres.
In so doing he truly handed Russell within the pitlane, thus technically briefly unlapping himself – earlier than rising onto the monitor in sixth place within the queue, behind Russell, the lapped Albon, Lewis Hamilton, Sergio Perez and Carlos Sainz. Latifi, the third lapped driver, was simply behind him.
By passing Russell within the pitlane Tsunoda had created a state of affairs that had not been anticipated, and in keeping with the automated system, he was now ineligible to unlap himself.
Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT03
Photograph by: Purple Bull Content material Pool
When the ‘lapped vehicles could now overtake’ message got here on the timing screens it solely talked about the numbers of Albon and Latifi.
Tsunoda’s engineer hesitated when he noticed the message, saying: “You may overtake lapped… Standby, standby.”
Within the confusion Tsunoda initially unlapped himself from Sainz however then stopped behind Perez, whereas on the similar time Latifi – with whom he was battling for place – handed him and continued on previous the frontrunning vehicles.
When he requested about passing Tsunoda was instructed, “Unfavourable, no overtake,” to which he replied, “What the f**ok, what are we doing?” He then acquired the message, “Maintain place Yuki, don’t overtake.”
He then let Sainz again previous, restoring his authentic place within the queue. The restart thus passed off with the lapped Tsunoda nonetheless separating Sainz from his pursuers, led by Charles Leclerc.
Tsunoda might thus have disrupted the races of Leclerc and others. Nevertheless, properly on the restart his engineer instructed him to let the faster vehicles by, and he nearly got here to a cease on the pit straight as he allowed the entire subject to cross.
Consequently, Tsunoda was left stranded in final place as the one lapped automotive, having misplaced out to each Albon and Latifi. He ought to have crushed each of them along with his recent tyres – and he may even have been capable of make up extra locations had he been in his rightful place on the restart.
Requested by Autosport about what occurred he mentioned: “I obtained instructed that you must keep in line. I do not know why. Most likely the FIA I thinks I used to be combating P5 or one thing like that!”
Nicholas Latifi, Williams FW44, Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri AT03
Photograph by: Purple Bull Content material Pool
A clearly annoyed AlphaTauri staff boss Franz Tost declined to touch upon what had unfolded.
The automated system was by no means supposed to handicap a driver in such a method, or go away a lapped automotive caught in the course of the pack in such circumstances. Nevertheless, the FIA insisted that no errors have been made.
In a press release the governing physique defined intimately what had occurred: “The entire techniques functioned appropriately and in keeping with the laws. The bizarre state of affairs arose because of the idiosyncrasies of the precise circuit and situation which have been as follows:
“Automotive 22 was the primary to cross SC1 following the deployment of the security automotive.
“On the next lap he subsequently turned the primary automotive to cross SC1 line for a second time, which might usually set off the techniques to point he’s eligible to unlap.
“Nevertheless, presently he entered the pit lane and was capable of go sooner than the practice of vehicles behind the security automotive. In doing so, he unlapped himself when crossing the management line within the pit lane.
“When he re-joined the circuit, the techniques appropriately indicated that he was once more a lap down, nonetheless as he had already unlapped himself as soon as, he was not eligible to take action once more when the security automotive interval was ending.
“Race management checked this was right with F1 timing and so they confirmed that solely automotive 6 and automotive 23 might unlap themselves.”
The FIA famous that the state of affairs can be reviewed and thus doubtlessly tackle sooner or later: “Whereas this can be a very uncommon situation, there have been no techniques or procedural errors – it’s a kind of unpredictable eventualities that may occur, and there are not any quick modifications that must be applied.
“This may in fact be mentioned at future Sporting Advisory Committees as a part of the conventional evaluate procedures.”