MONZA, Italy (AP) — Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto apologized on Saturday for calling Formula One driver Yuki Tsunoda a “Tsunami.”
Binotto used the word when referring to Tsunoda in an interview with Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport last week, shortly after the Japanese driver retired for the third time this season at the Dutch Grand Prix.
The Ferrari boss was told at a press conference ahead of the Italian GP that his comment offended Japan, which was devastated in 2011 by a tsunami that killed nearly 16,000 people.
“I definitely have to apologize and it was a mistake to use that word,” Binotto said. “It was not intended to do anything wrong.”
Binotto called Tsunoda a “fantastic pilot” and a “great man”.
He said he had a good relationship with the AlphaTauri pilot, adding “it’s just a joke, but it’s a bad joke”.
Tsunoda will serve a grid penalty for Sunday’s race after receiving five reprimands in 15 races. The 22-year-old also has eight penalty points on his super license over the past 12 months – 12 in a year triggers an automatic racing ban.
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