Mattia Binotto apologises for disrespectful joke about Yuki Tsunoda and Japan

Thousands died in Japan in 2011 as a result of a huge tsunami caused by a massive earthquake.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto has finally apologised to AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda and the people of Japan, after making a disrespectful comment after the Dutch Grand Prix.

Tsunoda, who will start from the back of the grid at the Italian Grand Prix following a fifth reprimand, was compared to a tsunami at Zandvoort, after causing a Virtual Safety Car.

Tsunoda pulled off to the side of the circuit after believing he had a problem, only to be told by his team that everything was fine.

The Japanese driver made his way slowly round the circuit before going back into the pits, where he sat for a long time due to his seatbelts having to be redone.

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The AlphaTauri driver was then released from the pits, before complaining once again that something wasn’t right with his AT03.

His team then told him to stop the car, resulting in the VSC.

This ultimately cost Charles Leclerc second place in the race, with the Ferrari driver ending up on the final step of the podium at the Dutch circuit.

It was after the race that Binotto likened Tsunoda to a tsunami, something that is disrespectful to the country.

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In 2011, Japan suffered from one of the worst tsunamis in history, after an enormous earthquake triggered the tsunami which swept an unbelievable distance inland.

The tsunami also caused the Fukushima nuclear power plant to shut down, with thousands of people dying as a result of the natural disaster.

“Certainly I need to apologise,” Binotto said when told by a Japanese reporter that he’d offended many people in the country.

“It was a mistake by using that word. There was no intention to do anything wrong. I’m very close to the victims which honestly I realise.

“I think that Tsunoda is a fantastic driver, he’s a great man and we’ve got a good relationship between the two. We simply called him in a way to make a simple joke, but it’s a bad joke.”

Incredibly, Tsunoda and AlphaTauri have been questioned by teams as to whether they retired on purpose to benefit Max Verstappen.

The Dutchman was coming under increasing pressure from Mercedes, before the VSC all but ended this threat.

AlphaTauri boss Franz Tost insisted that they had “no communication” with Red Bull, with the boss unable to “understand the reaction” to the Japanese driver’s retirement.

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“We had no communication with Red Bull Racing during the race,” Tost said to reporters on Saturday.

“Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing do not need our help. They win by themselves and we need every point for ourselves. It was never programmed that we stop the car during the race because Yuki was in a good position to score points.

“We were frustrated ourselves. We could have scored points and this differential failure was absolutely a surprise. We didn’t have this problem before and therefore I don’t understand the reaction.”