Mercedes principal Wolff thinks Tsunoda stoppage 'changed the race' at Dutch Grand Prix

By Sports Desk September 05, 2022

Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff believes Yuki Tsunoda's mid-race stoppage at the Dutch Grand Prix may have cost Lewis Hamilton a shot at victory over Max Verstappen.

The Briton looked on course for a first win of a difficult season, having seldom been near the pace of his Red Bull rival following last year's enthralling title battle.

But a virtual safety car stoppage for Alpha Tauri's Tsunoda two-thirds into the race handed Verstappen a free pit stop, before a physical safety car later on allowed the world champion to make another change and overtake Hamilton.

Tsunoda stopped his car after reporting issues with his tyres, removing his safety belts before being ordered to drive back to the pits. His belts were checked and he drove for four more corners, before being told to stop again by his team.

Hamilton was ultimately forced to settle for fourth, behind Verstappen, team-mate George Russell and Ferrari's Charles Leclerc.

Red Bull principal Christian Horner suggested the stoppage of Tsunoda had no effect on the outcome of the race, but Wolff felt the decision to send the Alpha Tauri – Red Bull's sibling team – back out likely cost Hamilton.

"If we were to fight for a championship, that would be something I would closely look at," he stated when asked if the FIA should review the incident.

"Now, I think what needs to be investigated for the safety of drivers and everybody out there.

"The driver stopped, unbuckled, did a full lap, came in, the problem wasn't solved, they put the seatbelts back on and he drove out and stopped the car again.

"That probably has changed the outcome of the race that we maybe could have won.

"I think we would have had a fair shot at the win. The race planner said the win was on. It was very close, but it was on."

 

 

Related items

  • Horner committed to Red Bull amid Ferrari links Horner committed to Red Bull amid Ferrari links

    Christian Horner was not surprised to hear of Mattia Binotto's departure from Ferrari and rubbished speculation he would leave Red Bull to fill the vacancy.

    Ferrari announced last week that Binotto had handed in his resignation as team principal after a frustrating season, where the team fell short of their objectives despite a fine start to the campaign.

    An error-strewn year saw Charles Leclerc lose a 46-point advantage over Max Verstappen and Red Bull, eventually finishing a distant second-place to the two-time world champion.

    Ferrari's hunt for a successor to Binotto has seen Horner linked with a move across the paddock but he affirmed his commitment to Red Bull.

    Asked whether he was surprised by Binotto's exit, Horner told Sky Sports: "Not really. It is obviously Ferrari's choice.

    "I think it will be the sixth team principal I have sat opposite since I've been at Red Bull. Obviously, it's very difficult for him. They had a great car this year, they were very competitive.

    "My commitment is very much with the Red Bull team. I've been there since the beginning and have a really close attachment."

    Verstappen will be looking to hand Red Bull a third consecutive drivers' championship in 2023, as well as retaining the constructors' championship, but Horner expects a tougher fight when the season begins in March – predicting Mercedes to be back near the top.

    "Both those guys [Lewis Hamilton and George Russell] had great seasons. George finishing ahead of Lewis in his first year with the team was an impressive performance but Lewis is obviously still right there," Horner added.

    "You've got to assume they're going to come back fighting hard next year, Ferrari as well will be looking to make progress, so it's set to be a really tough season."

    Red Bull will also have to cope with the penalty issued for breaching Formula One's budget cap, resulting in a reduction of time allowance in the wind tunnel.

    However, with development of the 2023 car already well underway before the punishment was issued, it is expected that the biggest impact from the penalty will be felt in 2024.

  • F1 cancels 2023 Chinese Grand Prix due to 'ongoing difficulties' around COVID-19 F1 cancels 2023 Chinese Grand Prix due to 'ongoing difficulties' around COVID-19

    Formula One's 2023 season will not feature the Chinese Grand Prix after the race was scrapped due to "ongoing difficulties" surrounding the country's COVID-19 situation.

    F1 was due to return to the Shanghai International Circuit in 2023, having last raced there in 2019.

    The 2020 race, like most originally scheduled for that season, was cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic and the 2021 race fell the same way. F1 could not honour its contract to race in China last season because of travel restrictions related to COVID-19.

    There will now be no race in the country for the fourth successive campaign after F1 confirmed the 2023 grand prix scheduled for April had been cancelled.

    "Formula 1 can confirm, following dialogue with the promoter and relevant authorities, that the 2023 Chinese Grand Prix will not take place due to the ongoing difficulties presented by the COVID-19 situation," a short statement read.

    "Formula 1 is assessing alternative options to replace the slot on the 2023 calendar and will provide an update on this in due course."

    China continues to operate a 'zero-COVID' policy, with strict local lockdowns enforced if even one person tests positive for the virus.

    Those who test positive are taken to a designated COVID hospital for centralised care and remain there until they have tested negative for COVID-19 multiple times, a process that can take numerous weeks.

    Reports prior to F1 confirming the cancellation indicated it was not prepared to ask teams to travel to the country amid the risk its drivers and staff could be quarantined for weeks if they caught the virus.

    F1 staff would reportedly not be given exemptions if they contracted COVID-19.

    If it does not replace the grand prix with an alternative in another country, F1 will stage a 23-race calendar in 2023 that would feature a four-week gap between the Australian Grand Prix on April 2 and the Azerbaijan Grand Prix on April 30 because of the cancellation.

    The new season is due to start on March 5 with the Bahrain Grand Prix.

  • Former IndyCar champion Palou steps up to reserve role with McLaren Former IndyCar champion Palou steps up to reserve role with McLaren

    Alex Palou, the 2021 IndyCar champion, has been named as one of McLaren's reserve drivers for the 2023 Formula One season.

    The 25-year-old, who ran in testing with the outfit across the 2022 season, is set to balance his time in the cockpit with his schedule in IndyCar.

    Earlier this year, Palou was involved in a dispute over his future, with McLaren and then-current team Ganassi both suggesting he was under contract for next year with them.

    After the latter initially filed a lawsuit against the racer, it was settled for him to test, though now the Spaniard makes the step up inside McLaren's team structure.

    "I'm excited to be part of the McLaren team as one of their reserve drivers in 2023," Palou said in a statement. 

    "I can't wait for the involvement with next year's car.

    "I look forward to continuing my development as a driver and I appreciate the trust McLaren have in me with this new role next year."

    McLaren were involved in a dispute over new driver Oscar Piastri too, after the latter left Alpine amid a bitter fallout over his future.

    The Australian will succeed Daniel Ricciardo for the team on a contract through 2024, and will partner Lando Norris, with McLaren yet to confirm the remainder of their reserve driver pool.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.