Tsunoda stopped on track twice in two laps during Sunday’s race at Zandvoort when he thought that a wheel had not been properly attached to his car following a pit stop.
After briefly coming to a halt with a suspected loose wheel, Tsunoda crawled back to the pits. Following a lengthy stop, in which his crew were seen fastening his belts and fitting new tyres, Tsunoda was sent back out.
The Japanese driver immediately reported he could still feel the same issue as he left the pits, before he pulled over and got out of his car after being instructed to stop in a safe place by his team.
Tsunoda’s retirement triggered a Virtual Safety Car period which enabled Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to make a cheap pit stop and retain his lead ahead of Mercedes pair Lewis Hamilton and George Russell.
The unusual sequence of events prompted wild conspiracy theories on social media due to AlphaTauri’s close ties with sister team Red Bull.
AlphaTauri responded by rubbishing the claims, as well as condemning “hateful behaviour” directed at Red Bull’s head of strategy Hannah Schmitz, in a statement on Monday.
“It is incredibly disheartening to read some of the language and comments directed at our team and towards Red Bull Racing’s Head of Strategy, Hannah Schmitz,” the statement read.
“Such hateful behaviour cannot be tolerated, and to entertain accusations of foul play is unacceptable, untrue and completely disrespectful towards both Hannah and us.
“We have always competed independently, fairly and with the highest levels of respect and sportsmanship.
“Yuki had a failure that the team didn’t immediately detect which caused him to stop on track. To suggest anything different is insulting and categorically incorrect.”