Unlike the Williams pair of Alex Albon and Nicholas Latifi, Tsunoda was the only driver who was denied the chance to unlap himself and overtake the Safety Car, leaving him mid-queue when the race restarted. 

The protocol surrounding the unlapping of cars under Safety Car periods has been under the spotlight ever since the controversial finish at the 2021 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, where only some lapped cars - the ones between race-leaders Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen - were permitted to rejoin the lead lap. 

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Michael Masi was replaced as F1 race director after he incorrectly applied the rules and forced a one-lap restart that ultimately altered the outcome of the world championship, with Verstappen overtaking Hamilton on the last lap to win both the race and the drivers’ crown. 

The FIA amended the relevant Safety Car rule following a review into Masi’s handling of last year’s contentious season finale. The revision stated that ‘all’, rather than ‘any’ lapped cars must un-lap themselves before a restart. 

The FIA insisted that “there were no systems or procedures errors” in Brazil and that the scenario was caused by “idiosyncrasies of the specific circuit”.  

Tsunoda was overlooked due to an anomaly which led the timing system to think he had already unlapped himself when he pitted under the Safety Car. 

“He entered the pit lane and was able to go faster than the train of cars behind the Safety Car,” an FIA spokesperson explained. “In doing so, he un-lapped himself when crossing the control line in the pit lane

“When he rejoined the circuit, the systems correctly indicated that he was again a lap down, however as he had already un-lapped himself once, he was not eligible to do so again when the Safety Car period was ending.

“Race control checked this was correct with F1 Timing and they confirmed that only car six [Latifi] and car 23 [Albon] could un-lap themselves.”

Tsunoda, who finished a lap down and last of the classified runners in 17th, was left confused by the incident.

“I got told I had to stay in the line, so I just stayed. I thought I could overtake [to unlap], but they said no so I just stayed.”

The FIA said no immediate changes need to be implemented but confirmed the matter will be a point of discussion at future Sporting Advisory Committees “as part of normal review procedures.”