Yuki Tsunoda given huge fine for inappropriate comments on team radio

Yuki Tsunoda's comments were heard on team radio during Saturday's qualifying session for the 2024 Austrian GP

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Japanese F1 driver Yuki Tsunoda has been penalised €40,000 (£34,500), with half of the fine suspended, for inappropriate comments during the 2024 Austrian Grand Prix qualifying session.

The incident occurred when Tsunoda, driving for RB, expressed frustration while queuing in the fast lane during Q1. Zhou Guanyu‘s Sauber merged into the fast lane ahead of him, prompting Tsunoda to use offensive language over the team radio.

Tsunoda was heard over the radio shouting: “These guys are f***ing r*tarded.”

Summoned by the stewards, Tsunoda explained that his English language skills contributed to his misunderstanding of the term’s severity. He expressed deep regret, stating he was unaware of the term’s offensive nature until after the session.

“I was horrified when I learned the meaning,” Tsunoda is quoted as saying by the FIA, emphasising that his understanding of the word differed from its actual implication. However, he acknowledged that this misunderstanding was not a valid excuse.

Yuki Tsunoda of Visa Cash App RB during practice ahead of the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool
Yuki Tsunoda of Visa Cash App RB during practice ahead of the 2024 Spanish Grand Prix | Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The stewards appreciated Tsunoda‘s honesty and remorse but emphasised that the language used was offensive and wholly inappropriate. They highlighted the responsibility of using such words on a public platform, which constitutes misconduct under Article 20 of the International Sporting Code.

“During the hearing the driver was very apologetic,” an FIA statement read. “He contended that his understanding of the words was different, but acknowledged that this should not be considered as an excuse for what he did.

“The stewards appreciate the honesty of the driver but reinforce the fact the words used are offensive and wholly inappropriate.”

Punishment for Tsunoda’s inappropriate comments

Considering Tsunoda‘s genuine regret and his willingness to issue a public apology, the stewards decided to impose a €40,000 (£34,500) fine, with €20,000 (£17,250) suspended for the rest of the 2024 season, provided no similar infractions occur.

Tsunoda‘s public apology for the inappropriate comments read: “I am deeply sorry for my remarks during the qualifying session. It was not my intention to offend, and I misunderstood the term’s meaning. I now understand its impact and am truly sorry.”

Tsunoda will start the 2024 Austrian GP in 14th position and is currently 10th in the Driver Standings.

John Smith
John Smithhttps://total-motorsport.com
Editor at Total-Motorsport.com and all round Motorsport journalist specialising in Formula 1, IndyCar and Formula E.
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