The conspiracy theory that AlphaTauri is causing a virtual safety car period to help Max Verstappen and Red Bull in the Dutch Grand Prix is pure nonsense and I’m not surprised to see the team criticizing such suggestions.
You can see why AlphaTauri didn’t immediately diagnose the problem with Yuki Tsunoda’s car.
I’m pretty sure that when he left the pits after his second pitstop of the race, he either broke the differential, attached a driveshaft, or sheared the drive pegs. To him it would look like there was no drive on one side, so he thought a wheel was loose. The team later discovered that it was apparently a diff issue.
It’s a logical conclusion for the rider to suggest a loose wheel first since he just pitted. But the crab effect he felt in the car was the consequence of a real problem, as he kept telling the team.
Tsunoda pulled over and undid his seat belts because he was thinking of retiring. But then he was told to continue when the team realized the wheels were properly attached and saw no further issues. But it’s not easy for the team to see if you have traction on both rear wheels when you’re not moving.
When Tsunoda came back to the pits the team changed the wheels he drove slowly so you wouldn’t notice if the differential was broken or a driveshaft joint had failed because both rear wheels would be spinning at the same speed. So everything seemed fine.
The crew then took time to fasten their seat belts. He had already reported on the radio that they were cowards, so the stewards would have been well aware of this problem, which earned him a reprimand. But from what the team could see, there was nothing wrong with the drive system.
But when he left the pitbox, it was clear there was no drive on a rear wheel. So Tsunoda told the team over the radio that he still had a problem and suggested, for the second time, that it was probably the diff. But he would have had to spin the rear wheels for the team to see him on the data, so they didn’t spot him until he tried to quickly leave his pitbox and then backed up.
If you don’t spin the wheels, there will be no difference in rear wheel speed. The diff is what transmits the drive through the rear axle.
Perhaps Tsunoda could have chosen a better place to park, for example on the other side of the track at turn 3 where the car would have been even easier to recover. But that’s life, and that would always have meant a VSC. We often saw parked cars provoke safety cars.
Does anyone really think Red Bull could orchestrate this kind of mid-race scenario, especially with a guy whose English isn’t his first language? They’re absolute assholes.
Mercedes screwed up the race with its decision not to pit Lewis Hamilton under the final safety car, but did so in the best interest of potentially winning.
Yes, the virtual safety car for Tsunoda compromised Mercedes’ attempt to win on a one-stop strategy, but these things happen.
The thing is, sometimes you can’t win and just because a car pulled over and took the VSC out at an inopportune moment doesn’t mean anything dodgy is going on.
Any suspicions Mercedes may have had about this – and it’s important to note that she made no complaints or protests – will surely be gone when she sees the facts of what happened. He just has to accept his own weaknesses and resist the temptation to blame AlphaTauri.
As for Red Bull, what would he gain? He was already well ahead in both championships and Verstappen probably would have won even if the one-stop Mercedes had played, after all.
Like so many conspiracy theories, these are just rubbish.
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Gary Anderson: Why Tsunoda’s plot was clearly nonsense – The Race