Tsunoda’s gearbox broke in half in Imola Q1 crash

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Tsunoda crashed heavily at the exit of Variante Alta early in qualifying for the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix on Saturday, causing a red flag and bringing his session to an end.

The Japanese driver was able to walk away from the crash unscathed, but his car was less fortunate after he spun rearwards into the barrier at speed.

AlphaTauri’s mechanics were left with a sizeable amount of repairs to complete before Sunday’s race, with technical director Jody Egginton revealing the extent of the damage.

“We’re still assessing it, [but] the gearbox broke in half, so that’s finished,” Egginton said on Saturday evening.

“Power unit, we’re having a good look through now and seeing what’s gone on. And rear suspension, rear wing, bodywork – but the chassis seems OK at the moment.

“That’s the last update I had. Not too bad, but it’ll keep the mechanics busy tonight and tomorrow morning.”

Tsunoda said after the session that he got “too excited” during his first push lap, causing the crash that means he will now start the race from the back of the grid.

The mistake marks the first major setback for Tsunoda’s fledgling F1 career after an impressive debut in Bahrain three weeks ago that saw him finish ninth after some late overtakes.

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri in the Press Conference

Yuki Tsunoda, AlphaTauri in the Press Conference

Photo by: FIA Pool

Egginton downplayed any need for Tsunoda to calm down or reel in his driving approach despite the crash, saying such errors had to be expected from rookies.

“I think it’s just one of those things that happens with a young driver, early in their career,” Egginton said.

“Any of these guys have always had these incidents. So it’s not a trend of him pushing too hard and going over the top. It just got away from him today.

“In hindsight, he probably could have taken a bit more margin, but that’s part of the rookie journey isn’t it?”

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Tsunoda’s team-mate, Pierre Gasly, will start fifth on the grid at Imola, but Egginton said the team planned to be aggressive on strategy with both of its drivers.

“We’re still crunching the numbers at the moment but we might have to be creative here in terms of what we’re going to do,” Egginton said.

“In both cases, we want to be aggressive with both drivers. We don’t want to be settling for anything less than we think we can do.

“At the minute, I wouldn’t go as far as to say what we’re thinking of. But we’ll be aggressive with both of them.”

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