Yuki Tsunoda ‘horrified,’ apologizes after fine for offensive language at Austrian GP

A “horrified” Yuki Tsunoda has issued an apology after race officials fined the Visa Cash App RB F1 Team driver €40,000 for using ableist language during Saturday’s qualifying session at the Formula 1 Austrian Grand Prix.

Tsunoda was summoned to meet with race officials following the qualifying session, after an exchange with race engineer Mattia Spini during the first segment of qualifying. As Tsunoda was waiting in his RB01 as cars queued up during Q1 Tsunoda exclaimed over his team radio “[t]he guys are f——— r———-,” to which Spini replied simply “Yuki no worries, don’t worry, plenty of time.”

When Tsunoda met with race officials, he apologized for the comment and explained that because English is not his first language, he was not fully aware of the meaning of his comments. According to the decision from race officials the statement violated Article 12.2.1 k) of the International Sporting Code in the following manner:

“[d]uring the hearing the driver was very apologetic and explained that because English is not his first language he was unaware until after the session what the meaning of the words used is in the English language. He said that he was horrified when he learned this. He contended that his understanding of the words was different, but acknowledged that this should not be considered as an excuse for what he did.”

In their decision race officials noted that while they appreciate Tsunoda’s “honesty,” a penalty is appropriate to “reinforce the fact that the words used are offensive and wholly inappropriate.”

“The Stewards appreciate the honesty of the driver, but reinforce the fact the words used are offensive and wholly inappropriate. To have used such words over a platform that is available to the public amounted to misconduct as defined in Article 20 of the International Sporting Code,” read the decision.

However, officials took Tsunoda’s “genuine remorse” into consideration and suspended part of the fine. “Considering the circumstances, the Stewards determine that a severe fine is required, but also take into account the genuine remorse of the driver and his offer to issue a public apology and for these reasons decided to suspend part of the fine imposed,” continued the stewards.

Under this part of the decision half of the fine — €20,000 —- will be suspended until the end of the season providing Tsunoda does not repeat such conduct.

As indicated by the officials, the driver issued a public apology on all his social media channels:

Tsunoda is set to start 14th in Sunday’s Austrian Grand Prix.

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