AlphaTauri Team Principal Franz Tost has defended Yuki Tsunoda following strong criticism from Red Bull post-qualifying in Mexico.
Tsunoda allegedly distracted Sergio Perez by going off the track at Turn 11, with the Mexican making a mistake that subsequently forced Max Verstappen to lift off the throttle, compromising his lap as well.
Both Perez and Verstappen were unhappy at the time of the incident and Christian Horner claimed that his drivers were "Tsunoda'd".
"We said to him [Tsunoda] on the radio that, 'The Red Bulls are coming', and he just goes off the track [so] that they could pass easily, and Perez followed him," Tost told media, including RacingNews365.com.
"It's not Yuki's fault. He didn't make a mistake. He did it deliberately. We said to him, 'The Red Bulls are coming, Perez is coming', and he deliberately went to the side [to] not to disturb them, or not to be in front of them.
"To be honest, I absolutely don't understand why Perez went also off the track there. Yuki went to the side, as all the drivers do in qualifying to make [space] for the cars which are coming behind on a qualifying lap.
"He was not on a qualifying lap. [It's] as easy as that. Therefore, I don't understand anything about this."
Fifth place is like a pole position
Pierre Gasly avoided the trouble in the Red Bull and AlphaTauri stable, beating Ferrari's Carlos Sainz and McLaren's Daniel Ricciardo to a top five spot in qualifying.
Gasly will also start on the clean side of the grid, so could be a factor for the leaders on the opening lap. As such, Tost says he's "confident" Gasly can hold on to his position.
"It was a very good result, it was the optimum, because we are the first team behind Red Bull and Mercedes," added Tost. "Fifth position is, for us, like a pole position.
"I hope that Pierre can defend his fifth position. Yuki has good speed, the car is working well and I think it's possible for him to score some points."
Tsunoda will start from 17th on the grid following changes to his Honda power unit.
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