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Conspiracy theories were flying following the Dutch Grand Prix last weekend after AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda had a head-scratching retirement that helped sister team, Red Bull, secure a win.
If you’re one of those fans, well, Dr. Yuki would like to see your MRI scans.
During the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, Tsunoda stopped his car with what he thought was a loose wheel. He got ready to hop out of his AT03 — undoing his belts in the process — but the team told him the car was fine and to drive it back to the pits.
He did, and after a pitstop during which the team tightened his seatbelts, Tsunoda drove back on track only to immediately suffer a car failure, which Tsunoda chalked up to an issue with the car’s differential.
Tsunoda’s retirement — his third of the season — brought out a virtual safety car on Lap 48, which allowed AlphaTauri’s sister team Red Bull to pit championship leader Max Verstappen, which ultimately helped him win a race, that looked like it was getting out of reach.
Cue the tin-foil caps.
Conspiracies Are Nothing New In F1
The unusual nature of Tsunoda’s DNF led to speculation that AlphaTauri had been ordered to help out Red Bull. Both teams have denied this up and down.
“I don’t want to know and I don’t care,” Tsunoda said when asked about these conspiracy theories ahead of the Italian Grand Prix.
“I want to actually ask how your brain looks like, scan the MRI and see what’s wrong. It’s funny how they create the story.”
Tsunoda touched on the undeniable connection between the two teams but noted that they still operate independently.
“Red Bull Racing and Scuderia AlphaTauri are completely different teams. Well, you know, it’s not as [completely different] as the other teams but still, it’s a different name.”
AlphaTauri also spoke out against these accusations issuing a statement condemning criticism of Red Bull principal strategy engineer Hannah Schmitz.
It’s clear to me that this wasn’t an example of a conspiracy in Formula 1, but they’ve certainly happened before.
In 2008, Renault got in a heap of trouble for ordering driver Nelson Piquet Jr. to bin his car to draw a safety car that helped teammate Fernando Alonso.
They were caught, and several of the team’s higher-ups were dealt indefinite bans, which were eventually overturned.
Follow on Twitter: @Matt_Reigle