Yuki Tsunoda’s coach Michael Italiano has revealed how he feared he’d lose his job at the first race of 2023, after nearly blinding the Japanese driver.
Italiano had been Daniel Ricciardo’s coach until the Australian opted for a sabbatical, following his exit from McLaren.
The coach started working with Tsunoda at AlphaTauri in January, with him having since revealed how something he did almost resulted in the 23-year-old missing the Bahrain Grand Prix.
Ahead of Free Practice 1 at the Bahrain International Circuit, Tsunoda and Italiano were completing a light workout, when Tsunoda threw a golf ball at the coach’s shin.
In retaliation, Italiano jokingly threw the golf ball over his shoulder, which just so happened to hit Tsunoda in the eye.
“First weekend together. I have a golf ball, and we use the golf ball to roll out the ball of our feet,” Italiano told the Pitstop podcast.
“He grabbed the golf ball, and he just lobbed it onto my shin and obviously it hurt and he’s giggling.
“He took the foam roller and started rolling his back, so I grabbed the golf ball and as I was walking to get the spiky ball, I just threw the golf ball over my shoulder.
“I wasn’t even looking. I just thought I’d lob it, and it’ll probably get him in the shin or something. I’ve lobbed it and hit him straight in the eye.”
Italiano feared that Tsunoda wouldn’t be able to race as a result; however, the driver got through the opening weekend thanks to using eye drops and claimed P11.
“Honestly, I was quite scared that he wasn’t going to race that Friday [in Bahrain]. I 100 per cent understand it was very reckless of me to just throw it.”
Tsunoda has gone on to perform very well in the first half of the season, having destroyed the fired Nyck de Vries.
In their 10 races together, Tsunoda finished ahead of De Vries eight times, highlighting his superiority.
Since Ricciardo took the Dutch driver’s place though, the pair are drawing 1-1 ahead of the upcoming Dutch Grand Prix at the end of August.