Tsunoda was enjoying a strong weekend at Zandvoort but stopped out on track on Lap 42 after reporting that his tyres weren’t fitted properly after making his second pit stop, causing a brief Virtual Safety Car period.
Shortly after, Tsunoda returned to the pit lane after the team confirmed to him over team radio that there was no issue.
This led to a bizarre set of circumstances where AlphaTauri mechanics were putting their hands into the cockpit, appearing to try and fasten Tsunoda’s seatbelt.
Tsunoda was released again before stopping out on track, causing another VSC period.
The VSC stoppage allowed the majority of the frontrunners to make a pit stop, allowing Verstappen to retain his lead over the Mercedes duo.
Explaining what happened, Tsunoda said: “I got told by my engineer to stop but we didn’t see any clear issue in the data, that’s why we drove back again to the pits to fit a new tyre. After that we saw it clear in the data, that’s why we stopped.
“We fitted a new tyre again and I confirmed the same thing is happening. I thought [at] first the wheelspin happened because of the hard tyre… low grip. But it was clear something was going on with that rear part and the engineers confirmed there was an issue and we stopped.”
The FIA have subsequently handed Tsunoda a reprimand for “driving on track in unsafe condition”.
The statement read: “While after a pit stop of car 22 the driver stopped the car due to the fact that he felt a wheel being not properly fitted, the investigation by the Stewards led to the conclusion that in fact there was a problem with the differential. Therefore the car was not in an unsafe condition when released from its pit stop position.
"However, during the hearing the driver admitted that after stopping on track he was ready to abandon the car and started to loosen the safety belt, without unlocking it. After that he travelled back to the pits where the mechanics re-fastened the belts. It is not possible to determine exactly to which degree the seatbelt had been loosened by the driver.”