Yuki Tsunoda was devastated following Sunday’s Mexican Grand Prix, after looking on-track for a potential points finish – something AlphaTauri are in desperate need of given that the Faenza-based team are ninth in the Constructors’ Championship.
It would come to absolutely no satisfaction to Tsunoda that his retirement was perhaps the most exciting moment of what was arguably the worst race of 2022, where drivers struggled to follow one another.
Tsunoda was in 11th place when an incident with Daniel Ricciardo occurred, on Lap 51/71.
Ricciardo was absolutely flying in the latter stages of the race, after completing his second stint of the race on the Soft tyres after carrying out a long opening stint on the Mediums.
It meant the Australian was on much faster tyres than those around him, which also offered the McLaren driver considerably better grip.
Ricciardo closed on Tsunoda for P11 in rapid fashion but attempted an overtake on the inside of the very tight Turn Six.
In fairness to the 33-year-old, there was a gap; however, that gap quickly disappeared as Tsunoda turned into the corner.
The pair collided, with Ricciardo’s front-left hitting the right-rear of the Japanese driver’s AT03, launching that part of his car into the air.
Tsunoda was forced off the circuit before cruising back round to the pits, where he was forced to retire due to substantial damage to his right sidepod.
It marked a disappointing end to what was looking like a potential points finish for the young driver, who was surprised that “such an experienced driver” would make such a “silly mistake”.
“It’s such a shame about today’s result,” said Tsunoda.
“My tyre management had been really good in the race up until that point, and I was feeling confident in that final stint, so I’m very disappointed that it ended with such a silly mistake.
“Daniel was on a different strategy and would’ve easily made it past later on, so for such an experienced driver to try to overtake in an area that it’s just not possible to is so annoying.
“We were close to being able to finish in the points, which are so valuable to us right now. There are some positives to take away from this weekend, but for now I just need to go away and reset, then come back stronger for Brazil.”
Ricciardo was awarded a 10-second time penalty for causing the collision; however, this was added to his finishing time after not completing another stop.
Unbelievably, Ricciardo went on to claim seventh, after storming past his team-mate, Valtteri Bottas, and both Alpines with relative ease.
He managed to then build a 10-second gap to Esteban Ocon to secure his seventh place, which also saw the Aussie awarded ‘Driver of the Day’.