AlphaTauri refutes ‘untrue’ conspiracy theories

AlphaTauri has defended itself against accusations that Yuki Tsunoda‘s retirement from the Dutch Grand Prix was staged to help Red Bull win the race.

Tsunoda’s stoppage on Lap 46 was a key moment in the race, triggering a Virtual Safety Car period that allowed Max Verstappen to make a pit stop with a smaller time loss than under normal racing conditions.

Until that moment Verstappen had looked set for a tight fight for victory with Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton.

AlphaTauri has been subject of social media abuse since the race.

Although AlphaTauri operates as its own racing team across the board, with its own mechanics and engineers, Red Bull’s head of strategy Hannah Schmitz has been subjected to abuse too.

On Monday, AlphaTauri released a statement saying: “It’s incredibly disheartening to read some of the language and comments directed at the team and towards Red Bull’s Head of Strategy Hannah Schmitz.

“Such hateful behaviour cannot be tolerated and to entertain accusations of foul play is unacceptable, untrue and completely disrespectful towards both Hannah and us. We have always competed independently, fairly and with the highest levels of respect and sportsmanship.

“Yuki had a failure that the team didn’t immediately detect which caused him to stop on track. To suggest anything else is insulting and categorically incorrect.”

The nature of Tsunoda’s retirement was bizarre.

The Japanese driver originally stopped on track on lap 45 of the race after believing a rear wheel was loose following his second pit stop. He started to undo his seatbelt to get out of the car but was then instructed to return to the pits by AlphaTauri.

On his return to the pit lane, his mechanics fitted new tyres and tightened his seatbelts before sending him back on track. At that point, an issue with the car’s differential was spotted and Tsunoda was told to stop again.

Mercedes boss Toto Wolff did not suggest anything untoward but said it was an incident that would have required further analysis in a championship situation.

“If we were to fight for a championship that would be something I would closely look at,” he said.

He added: “That probably could have changed the race that maybe we could have won, but in this sport ‘maybe’ is anyway irrelevant. For me, I’m not thinking about that anymore, it’s gone.”

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