The AlphaTauri driver was slapped with a five-second time penalty after the stewards ruled he had forced Zhou Guanyu off-track at Turn 1 as they battled for ninth place in the closing stages of Sunday’s race in Barcelona. 

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Tsunoda subsequently dropped out of the top-10 and was classified 12th after his penalty was applied, while Alfa Romeo’s Zhou went on to take ninth. 

After the race, the Japanese driver slammed the stewards’ decision and accused Zhou of ‘pretending’ to be run out of road by taking to the run-off. 

“It was a ridiculous penalty,” said Tsunoda. “It feels really unfair. 

“I left the room and I feel like he just gave it up early stages. He went outside and pretended like he got forced out.

“But definitely there was still space outside there. Obviously I give pressure but there’s still space behind me. 

“So I don’t understand why there’s a penalty. Feels really harsh.”

Zhou disagreed with Tsunoda and felt the penalty was fully-deserved. 

"It was very straightforward,” explained Zhou. 

"I was ahead before braking into Turn 1 and then mid-corner, I was actually giving a lot of space. Then I just saw him [and he] wasn't stopping.

"[He tried] to release the brakes [but he] ran me off, which I had to take avoiding action and [use the] escape road, otherwise we would be crashing together.

"So, that was tricky after that because I had so much rubbish on my tyre. 

“But then, in the end, I was able to keep behind him in the right position and get the position back."