AlphaTauri issued a statement defending Hannah Schmitz, denying conspiracy theories in the aftermath of Yuki Tsunoda’s bizarre retirement from the 2022 Dutch Grand Prix.
Red Bull’s famous strategy engineer, Hannah Schmitz came into the spotlight after the impressive strategy she devised at the Hungarian Grand Prix allowing Formula 1 Champion Max Verstappen to win from tenth on the grid.
However, after last Sunday’s Dutch Grand Prix, Schmitz was under attack on social media, as keyboard warriors on social media concocted conspiracy theories based on the strange retirement of Yuki Tsunoda – that caused a Virtual Safety Car – that allowed Max Verstappen to take a cheap pit stop while compromising Mercedes’ strategy.
Tsunoda pitted for tyres, after which he reported something wrong with his car suspecting a tyre not being properly fit and stopping on the side of the track, only to be called in by the team informing him the car was fine.
The Japanese driver duly returned to the pits despite loosening his seat belts, as he was getting ready to exit his car when the team called him in. In the pits, his car was checked, seat belts retightened, and given another set of tyres.
However, the team detected the problem on the #22 car and asked the driver to park it, prompting the Virtual Safety Car that Red Bull used to their benefit.
Wolff left speechless
Mercedes boss Toto Wolff admitted these things happen when asked how Tsunoda’s retirement compromised Mercedes’ strategy.
“These things happen,” he said. “But Tsunoda stopping out on track and restarting, coming back in with the seatbelts not on, starting the car up again and breaking down a lap later. Speechless.”
Wolff admitted Mercedes wouldn’t have won the race even without the VSC, saying: “If Tsunoda doesn’t roll into the pit lane without a seatbelt and they start him again, then Verstappen will come out eight seconds behind Lewis.
“Who knows? We probably wouldn’t have won it, but it would have been a different situation,” he conceded.
But as is the case with social media these days, the fans thought otherwise, blasting AlphaTauri and Red Bull, in particular Hannah Schmitz, suggesting the teams conspired for this because of their close relationship.
AlphaTauri responded with statement saying: “It is incredibly disheartening to read some of the language and comments directed at our team and towards Red Bull Racing’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 different is insulting and categorically incorrect,” the statement concluded.
AlphaTauri engineer explained was happened
Before that, AlphaTauri’s Chief Engineer of Vehicle Performance, Claudio Balestri explained what happened during the confusion.
He said: “Having seen that the [hard] compound was working well, we decided to also pit Yuki for them. After the pit stop he reported something strange at the rear of the car.
“We called him in again to change the tyres and immediately after, we had a car failure. This is currently under investigation within the team,” he added.
The stewards investigated Tsunoda after the race, and found him only guilty of driving back to the pits with loosened seatbelts for which he was handed a reprimand.
— Scuderia AlphaTauri (@AlphaTauriF1) September 5, 2022