Tsunoda believes Magnussen’s actions in F1 Saudi Arabian GP to help Hulkenberg get a point were “unfair”

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After the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, RB F1’s Yuki Tsunoda voiced his concerns over what he deems an “unfair” strategy employed by Haas. The race unfolded with unexpected drama as Nico Hulkenberg clinched a P10 finish for the American owned team, leaving Tsunoda questioning the fairness behind their tactics.

The controversy arose after Kevin Magnussen incurred two 10-second time penalties, jeopardising his race. The penalties were a result of a collision with Alexander Albon and an overtaking maneuver involving Tsunoda off the track.

Despite Magnussen’s setbacks, the Danish driver strategically slowed down in the high speed sector 1 where it was impossible to pass, allowing teammate Nico Hulkenberg to gain a significant advantage.

This tactical move positioned Hulkenberg in 10th place after his pit stop, securing Haas’ first point since the Singapore Grand Prix in the previous year.

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Tsunoda, reflecting on the race, acknowledged his own mistake in letting Magnussen back through at Turn 2 on lap 29. He remarked, “It was pretty frustrating, but at the same time, he overtook me with all four wheels outside [the track]. That’s a bit unfair, but the truth is I also let him go, so that was my mistake.”

The Japanese driver, grappling with grip issues from the beginning, admitted the team struggled with pace. Despite understanding Haas’ perspective, Tsunoda voiced his frustration, stating, “It’s a team sport in the end. Nico got to score points so he did a good job, but at the same time, it’s pretty frustrating.

“We really struggled with the pace from the beginning, I didn’t have much grip. I struggled to even stay in the track.

Photo Credit: Red Bull Content Pool

Addressing the incident, Racing Director of RB F1, Alan Permane, criticised Magnussen’s actions and the team will be having words with the FIA, stating, “Magnussen drove off the track to deliberately put himself in front of Yuki and then slowed him down by up to two seconds a lap, which allowed Hulkenberg, who hadn’t stopped yet, to create a gap and of course pit in front of all the cars behind.

“That, to me, doesn’t seem correct and is the very definition of unsportsmanlike behaviour. I’m sure we and other teams will talk to the FIA about it for future races.”

Permane also shared insight on their race strategy by saying, “With Yuki, we did a conventional race like most others. We started him on the medium tyre, and when the Safety Car came out, pitted him for the hard compound. What then happened was a little difficult to take.”

Tsunoda, despite his frustration, acknowledged the complexities of race dynamics, adding, “To score points, you try to do whatever you can do to stay in the position. It was pretty dangerous, and we almost crashed at Turn 2. I have to understand, I wouldn’t say [it was] fair, but I have to understand it.”