Tsunoda handed three-place grid drop for blocking Bottas in qualifying

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AlphaTauri's Japanese driver Yuki Tsunoda has been hit by a three-place grid drop for impeding Mercedes racer Valtteri Bottas in the qualifying session for tomorrow's Styrian Grand Prix.

Bottas was on his first fast lap in Q3 and came across the AlphaTauri driver on the run into Turn 4. The Finn could complete his lap, but felt that he lost a significant amount of time due to the impeding and immediately communicated it to his race engineer, Riccardo Musconi on the radio.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 after qualifying, Tsunoda felt he didn’t hamper Bottas’ lap significantly. He said: "There is still a gap between me and Valtteri and there’s a little bit of a crest before Turn 4. The point I saw him was already in the braking zone,” Tsunoda said. “It’s a mistake, but to be honest if I changed direction and went inside I think that would really be in the braking zone.

“So I also expected that Valtteri was going to overtake me on the inside so it could have been a big shunt. There was nowhere to go so that’s why I went straight. It looks like there’s still a gap. I know it’s really difficult. I don’t think I ruined his lap too much," Tsunoda concluded.

However, the race stewards judged that Tsunoda failed to move out of the way for Bottas and handed out a three-place grid drop penalty for tomorrow's Styrian Grand Prix. The penalty sees the Kanagawa-born driver start from P11 instead of P8.

"Car 22 [Tsunoda] had just completed a fast lap and had communication from the team that he was now on an in lap. The team did not warn car 22 of the approach of car 77 [Bottas] on a fast lap.

"Car 77 approached Car 22 at the entry to Turn 4. Car 22 was on the racing line and while he attempted to move off the racing line to the outside he did impede car 77 unnecessarily. It is the responsibility of every driver to be aware of faster cars when they are on a slow lap. The team should have assisted the driver in being aware of the approaching faster car but such lack of communication is not an excuse for the driver," read the Stewards' document.