Monaco Grand Prix – The Stewards have handed Charles Leclerc a three place penalty for tomorrow’s race after deciding he impeded Lando Norris in qualifying.
After taking pole for the last two Monaco races, Leclerc could only manage P3 behind Max Verstappen and Fernando Alonso this afternoon but he ended qualifying with an investigation hanging over his head for impeding Norris at the end of Q3.
Leclerc, Norris, and their team representatives all met with the Stewards after the session to review the incident. While the two drivers agreed “that there was little that Leclerc could have safely done in the tunnel to avoid impeding Norris” and the Stewards felt that “Leclerc reacted in a sensible way to a blue flag displayed”, they weren’t happy that Ferrari had failed to notify their driver that there was a car on a hot lap behind him given there was “much that Leclerc could have done prior to the tunnel to avoid the impeding had he received warning”.
As a result, the incident was deemed avoidable had Ferrari been paying closer attention to what was going on on track and so the Stewards imposed a three place grid drop on the Monegasque driver. That will promote Esteban Ocon, Carlos Sainz and Lewis Hamilton to P3-P5 respectively while Leclerc will line up alongside the Mercedes driver on row three at the start of tomorrow’s race.
The full text of the decision read:
“The Stewards heard from the driver of Car 16 (Charles Leclerc), the driver of Car 4 (Lando Norris), team representatives and reviewed positioning/marshalling system data, video, timing data, team radio and in-car video evidence.
“Leclerc had finished his final lap of Q3 and was in the Turn 4 through Turn 10 complex. Norris was on a fast lap and caught Leclerc in the middle of the tunnel and was clearly impeded.
“Both drivers agreed that there was little that Leclerc could have safely done in the tunnel to avoid impeding Norris, given the difficulty in vision due to the light entering and in the tunnel and the change of lines from one side of the tunnel to the other. In fact, the Stewards observed that Leclerc reacted in a sensible way to a blue flag displayed by the marshals, but at this point it was too late.
“However, the Stewards reviewed team radio, and Leclerc’s team failed to give him any warning about Norris’ approach until Norris was already directly behind him. Further, the discussion during the preceding portion of the track was entirely about competing drivers, not the traffic behind, which is a critical task at this track.
“The Stewards believe that there is much that Leclerc could have done prior to the tunnel to avoid the impeding had he received warning from the team at an appropriate time, especially considering that Norris’ approach was clear on the marshalling system. Thus, the Stewards consider that the impeding was unnecessary.
“The Stewards reviewed all the preceding unnecessarily impeding penalties in the past few years. In every case, the actions, or inaction of the team did not mitigate the unnecessary impeding. Thus the Stewards impose the usual penalty of a three grid drop.”