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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Yuki Tsunoda could make F1 history for all the wrong reasons as he closes in on race ban

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After his latest run-in with the stewards at the Italian Grand Prix, Yuki Tsunoda is edging closer to making Formula 1 history.

But it would not be for a good reason. The Japanese racer, in his second year in the sport with AlphaTauri, is edging towards racking up penalty points in a way no other F1 driver before him has done.

Tsunoda’s ill-discipline has already seen him punished this season, in the form of a 10-place grid penalty at Monza after receiving his fifth reprimand of the season. But even after that, he still incurred the wrath of the stewards further in the second practice session of the weekend.

He received two more penalty points for failing to slow down for yellow flags in that session. Afterwards, team boss Franz Tost said of the driver: “He has just to get under control his emotions and he must be more disciplined, because to ignore a yellow flag in FP2 is not clever.”

Tsunoda now has eight penalty points against his licence, the most of any racer currently. If he receives four more before his current points expire, he would receive a one-race ban – a punishment never yet handed out to an F1 driver.

It means he will have to take especially great care between now and November 14, when the first two of his current points expire. And the driver himself, referred to recently by Helmut Marko as Red Bull’s “problem child”, knows he has to rein it in.

AlphaTauri chief Franz Tost was unimpressed by how Tsunoda earned his latest penalty points

“At least I don’t have to think about the reprimands that increasingly came after my name,” Tsunoda told Motorsport.com. “It’s over now – I can fight hard from now on, although I have eight penalty points.

“Of course, I try to do as few stupid actions as possible but if I take an action and I crash, I learn from it. But a few times I did something unnecessary, like speeding at the yellow flag. I really need to stop accumulating penalty points.

“Normally I lower my speed myself, and I had never been given a penalty for speeding at yellow flags. Now there was a misunderstanding, that’s why I didn’t slow down. It is and remains my responsibility. I have to slow down, especially at yellow flags for safety. I learned from it.”

As well as Tsunoda, Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon will have to be more careful going forward as they are the next closest to a ban with seven points apiece. No-one else is more than halfway to a ban, as Fernando Alonso has six and Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon and Lance Stroll have five each.

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