Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto apologizes to Tsunoda for ‘tsunami’ joke | F1 | sport
Ferrari boss Mattia Binotto has admitted he owes Yuki Tsunoda an apology after his misguided joke about the AlphaTauri driver caused a storm in the paddock. The Scuderia team principal made the remark during the Dutch Grand Prix after Tsunoda pulled out of the race, sparking outrage with his comment about the Japanese star.
Binotto, who has been criticized for overseeing Ferrari’s disappointing title challenge after winning just four out of 15 races this season, was forced to issue a creeping apology to the 22-year-old after acknowledging his joke was unacceptable.
Binotto called Tsunoda a “tsunami” when he explained why he decided to pit Charles Leclerc against Charles Leclerc during the race: “We called him [Leclerc] return [to the pits] when ‘Tsunami’ stopped in the pits”, referring to Tsunoda’s strange pit stop which forced him to retire from the race.
In Japan, tsunamis have been prominent in the Far East of Asia for the past decade, with a devastating incident in 2011 causing more than 20,000 deaths, leading many to wonder why Binotto would make such a joke.
READ MORE: Ferrari says Binotto is ‘not the only one to blame’ after recent disasters
And the Italian admitted he had to make amends to Tsunoda after he admitted he made an error in judgement: “Certainly, I have to apologise. It was a mistake to use that word,” Binotto told the Italian Grand Prix.
“There was no intention to do anything wrong. I’m very close to the victims, which I honestly realize. I think Tsunoda is a fantastic driver. He’s a great man and we we have a good relationship between the two. [of us]. Like you said, it was a simple joke but it was a bad joke.”
It’s not the first time Tsunoda has been used as a source of humor by an F1 team principal, with Red Bull boss Christian Horner once joking with Max Verstappen and Sergio Perez had been “Tsunoda’d after being denied pole position at the Mexican Grand Prix. Price last season.
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Binotto will hope the problem can be resolved as Ferrari faces a decisive weekend at Monza for its home Grand Prix, with Charles Leclerc hoping to clinch pole position as Max Verstappen starts with a five-place grid penalty.
Tsunoda is expected to accept Binotto’s olive branch, though the driver has bigger concerns on his mind. Tsunoda will start the Italian Grand Prix from the back of the grid following a powertrain change along with seven other drivers.
Tsunoda had already been given a 10-place grid penalty after receiving five reprimands from the stewards this season. He was also penalized for ignoring yellow flags in FP2 at Monza on Friday to add to his woes.