Red Bull’s integrity was called into question after a bizarre Virtual Safety Car caused by AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda at the Dutch Grand Prix.
Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc was trailing Red Bull’s Max Verstappen by a comfortable margin after they had both made their first stop, and Tsunoda stopped on track immediately after his stop.
He reported on the radio that one of his tyres had not been fitted properly and, in anticipation of the VSC, Ferrari pitted Leclerc.
However, Tsunoda discovered that his wheel was not loose, so he continued on his way, before rolling back into the pits.
In the meantime, the young Japanese driver had started to undo his safety harness, so the AlphaTauri crew had to spend half a minute re-fastening it before sending him back out.
When he re-joined, he quickly stopped again, causing the VSC to be deployed after Leclerc had already made his stop.
It gave Verstappen the opportunity to pit, as well as both Mercedes cars of Sir Lewis Hamilton and George Russell, so Leclerc was fourth.
This led some to believe that Red Bull had orchestrated a move with their junior team to help Verstappen and cost Ferrari.
After he got out of the car, Tsunoda explained what had happened to him.
“I thought there was an issue,” he told Sky Sports.
“And the engineers didn’t see [anything] in the data, so I came back again, we fitted a different set of tyres, and after that pit stop, the engineers saw the issue in the data, that’s why we stopped.”
The 22-year-old affirmed that there was not actually a loose tyre that made him stop initially.
“Tyres were not the issue in the end, I think,” clarified Tsunoda, before confirming that it just felt as though the tyre was loose.
As for his harness, Tsunoda divulged that his mechanics had to tighten it after it had become loose.
“The seatbelt was fine, they just re-tightened it again,” he added.
Tsunoda then stated in his following interview that he had not fully undone the harness; it was simply “loose.”