RB Formula 1 driver Yuki Tsunoda has received a 40,000 euro fine following inappropriate remarks made during the Austrian Grand Prix qualifying session.

By the Asian Motorsport Team

In the closing moments of Q1 at the Red Bull Ring, Tsunoda was overtaken by Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu in the pitlane and responded with the comment, “these guys are f***ing retarded”, over his team radio. This was brought to the attention of the FIA’s race stewards, leading to Tsunoda’s penalty under the International Sporting Code. Half of the fine is suspended for the remainder of 2024, contingent on Tsunoda avoiding further infractions.

The stewards’ report indicated that Tsunoda was apologetic during the hearing, claiming he did not fully grasp the inappropriateness of his words due to language barriers. Despite his remorse, the stewards upheld that Tsunoda breached the code. “During Q1, when car 22 was queuing in the fast lane and another car merged ahead of him, the driver was heard using offensive language over the team radio,” the report read.

“The driver, during the hearing, was very apologetic and explained that he misunderstood the meaning of the words due to English not being his first language. He expressed horror upon realizing the true meaning and acknowledged that his understanding should not excuse his actions. The stewards appreciate the driver’s honesty but emphasize that the words used are offensive and inappropriate. Broadcasting such language over a public platform constitutes misconduct as per Article 20 of the International Sporting Code.”

After considering Tsunoda’s honesty and willingness to apologise publicly, the stewards decided to suspend part of the fine. “Given the circumstances, a severe fine is necessary, but the driver’s genuine remorse and offer to publicly apologize justify suspending part of the penalty,” the stewards noted.

Article 20 of the ISC defines verbal misconduct as “the use of language that is offensive, insulting, coarse, rude, or abusive and might reasonably be expected to cause offense, humiliation, or be deemed inappropriate.”

Following the ruling, Tsunoda posted an apology on his Instagram account: “I want to sincerely apologize for my comments on the radio today. I did not use the words intentionally and misunderstood their exact meaning. I now understand the word’s meaning better and am very sorry for what I said. Such language is unacceptable and has no place in our sport.”

Tsunoda’s penalty does not affect his race placement, and he will start the Austrian GP from 14th position after being eliminated in Q2.

Header image credit: RB Formula 1 Team

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