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‘Horrified’ Tsunoda fined for using slur in F1 Austria qualifying

RB Formula 1 driver Yuki Tsunoda has been handed a 40,000 euro fine for using offensive remarks during Austrian Grand Prix qualifying.

Towards the end of Q1 at the Red Bull Ring Tsunoda was overtaken in the pitlane by Sauber’s Zhou Guanyu, and responded by saying “these guys are f***ing retarded” over his team radio.

The remarks were brought to the attention of the FIA’s race stewards, who have handed Tsunoda a 40,000 euro fine for breaching the governing body’s International Sporting Code. Half of the fine is suspended for the rest of 2024, provided no more similar infractions happen.

In the verdict the stewards said Tsunoda was apologetic during the hearing and said he didn’t fully realise that his language was inappropriate, but the stewards still deemed him to be breach of the code.

In their verdict the stewards wrote: “During Q1 when car 22 was queuing in the fast lane and another car blended into the fast lane ahead of him, the driver was heard to make a statement over team radio using offensive language.

“During the hearing the driver was very apologetic and explained that because English is not his first language he was unaware until after the session what the meaning of the words used is in the English language.

“He said that he was horrified when he learned this. 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.

“To have used such words over a platform that is available to the public amounted to misconduct as defined in Article 20 of the International Sporting Code.”

Yuki Tsunoda, RB F1 Team VCARB 01

Photo by: Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Because Tsunoda was candid and apologetic, and offered to apologise in public, the stewards decided to convert half of the fine into a suspended penalty.

“Considering the circumstances, the stewards determine that a severe fine is required, but also take into account the genuine remorse of the driver and his offer to issue a public apology and for these reasons decide to suspend part of the fine imposed,” they wrote.

Article 20 of the ISC defines verbal misconduct as “the general use of language… that is offensive, insulting, coarse, rude or abusive and might reasonably be expected or be perceived to be coarse or rude or to cause offense, humiliation or to be inappropriate”.

Tsunoda soon posted that apology on his Instagram account, writing the following statement:

“I wanted to say big apologies [for] what I said in the radio today. Obviously I didn’t use it intentionally and was completely misunderstanding from myself that exact meaning of it.

“I now have a better understanding for what the word means and am very apologetic for what I said. This type of language has no place and is not tolerated and for that I am sorry.”

He will start the Austrian GP from 14th position after being eliminated in Q2.

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