Scuderia AlphaTauri team principal Franz Tost has defended Japanese F1 rookie Yuki Tsunoda.
The 21-year-old was accused by Red Bull team boss Christian Horner of ruining Max Verstappen’s final Q3 lap, as he went off the track at turn 11.
This seemingly distracted Sergio Perez, who was running behind him, and led to the Mexican also going off the track.
Verstappen, who was behind both of them, then had to lift off as he was expecting a yellow flag due to the incident.
Speaking after qualifying, Horner said Red Bull got “Tsunoda’d”, suggesting that the Japanese driver was at fault for their qualifying mishap.
However, Tost has defended his driver and said he deliberately went off the circuit to give Perez and Verstappen a clear track ahead.
“We said to him on the radio that the Red Bulls are coming and he just go[es] off the track so they could pass easily,” Tost said on Saturday.
“And Perez followed him. It’s not Yuki’s fault.”
Continuing, the AlphaTauri team principal said: “He [Tsunoda] didn’t make a mistake. He did it deliberately.
“We said to him, ‘the Red Bulls are coming, Perez is coming’, and he deliberately went to the side not to disturb them or not to be in front of them.”
He added that he “absolutely” doesn’t understand why Perez went off the track in a similar fashion to Tsunoda.
“Yuki went to the side, as all the drivers do in qualifying to make [space] for the cars which are coming behind which on a qualifying lap.
“He was not on a qualifying lap. As easy as that. Therefore I don’t understand anything about this,” Tost concluded.