Red Bull receive explanation from AlphaTauri after Max Verstappen's lap was 'destroyed'

AlphaTauri team boss Frank Tost has defended his rookie driver Yuki Tsunoda after receiving backlash from members of the Red Bull team, including team principal Christian Horner, during qualifying for the Mexican Grand Prix. Tsunoda found himself in a predicament in the final few moments of the session after being instructed to give his team-mate Pierre Gasly a tow around the circuit in Q3.

But the young Japanese driver ran into trouble as he was informed Red Bull’s Sergio Perez was closing in behind him on a fast lap and had limited options to get out of the Mexican’s way.

Tsunoda had to leave the track to get out of the way, kicking up dust in his haste to give the Red Bull driver room.

However, Perez, maybe distracted by a car off the track, made a mistake and went wide and almost tangled with the AlphaTauri driver, closely followed by championship leader and team-mate Max Verstappen.

Verstappen, who remained on track during the incident, admitted after he couldn’t make out what had happened and after fearing it could’ve been a crash, slowed down, compromising his final flying lap for pole position.

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Speaking after the session, Horner claimed Red Bull had been “Tsunoda’d”, and couldn’t understand why the rookie was out on track anyway considering he has a grid penalty and starts from the back of the grid.

Team principal Tost had a simple explanation for that.

“He gave a tow to Pierre [Gasly],” began Tost. “It’s as easy as that. And we wanted to be in front of [Lando] Norris. So two things why he was out [on track].”

“He didn’t make a mistake, he did it deliberately. We said to him Perez is coming and he deliberately went to the side not to disturb them or not to be in front of them.

“I absolutely don’t understand to be honest why Perez went also off the track there.

“Yuki went to the side as all the drivers do in qualifying to make place for the cars which are coming behind which are on a qualifying lap.

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“He was not a qualifying lap. It’s easy as that. That’s why I don’t understand anything about this.”

Valtteri Bottas starts on pole for Mercedes on Sunday, with Lewis Hamilton, Verstappen’s main title rival starting second, on the dirty side of the grid.

The Dutchman meanwhile was left frustrated after setting the third fastest time, more than three-tenths off Bottas, after being caught up in the Perez and Tsunoda incident.

Asked on Sky Sports F1 after qualifying how pole had got away from Red Bull in Mexico, Horner said: “I think we got Tsunoda’d.

“Both drivers were up on their last lap. Max was up two-and-a-half tenths, I think Checo [Sergio] was just under two tenths up.

“I don’t understand why he was just cruising around at that part of the circuit.

“It’s disappointing because it affected both of the drivers because they’re both pretty annoyed.

“But we’re still second row of the grid and can have a great race from there.”

Verstappen currently holds a 12 point lead ahead of Hamilton in the Drivers’ Championship standings, with 133 points left across the five remaining races of the 2021 season.

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