Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen, Red Bull Ring, 2019

Leclerc says decision not to penalise Verstappen was “inconsistent”

2019 F1 season

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Charles Leclerc says the stewards’ decision not to penalise Max Verstappen for the clash between the pair in the Austrian Grand Prix was not consistent with other recent decisions.

However the Ferrari driver said he is happy to race hard with rival drivers when the stewards do not get involved.

“With the incident I don’t have any problems,” said Leclerc. “It is very easy for me to move on.

“The only thing is that I would like maybe a bit more consistency. I feel like there have been some other incidents in the past which have been less big in a way and that have been penalised.

“If we can race that way then I’m more than happy to race that way. I think it’s good Formula 1. I think it’s what us drivers want.

“But we just need to know what we can expect from the others and on that I think that’s what I would like probably more consistency on the penalties.”

Leclerc did not specify which previous incidents he felt the ruling was not consistent with. Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto previously said the decision was not consistent with Sebastian Vettel’s for rejoining the track unsafely during the Canadian Grand Prix.

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Leclerc admitted he didn’t immediately feel Verstappen should have been let off.

“He had such a pace advantage with the tyres he was on that it was very difficult to keep him behind,” said Leclerc. “But just the way the overtake has been done, I felt that looking the past other penalties afterwards getting out of the car I felt maybe should have been penalised.

“But in the end I am very happy with this decision if they are consistent like this I am very happy to race like this do.”

He added he will reconsider his approach to wheel-to-wheel racing after the stewards’ decision not to penalise Verstappen.

“As drivers we always try to be as close a the rules limit us to be,” he said. “So I will definitely change a little bit and adjust a little bit my [approach].”

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2019 F1 season

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Author information

Dieter Rencken
Dieter Rencken has held full FIA Formula 1 media accreditation since 2000, during which period he has reported from over 300 grands prix, plus...
Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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  • 31 comments on “Leclerc says decision not to penalise Verstappen was “inconsistent””

    1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
      12th July 2019, 13:10

      He’s 100% right – the rule to leave the space should be removed from the rules because if it’s not enforced on a victory in the clearest violation then it shouldn’t be there.

      If they now apply it and take a victory away from another driver who doesn’t leave space, the stewards will have robbed 2 drivers of victories.

      When I compare F1 to MotoGP, I have to say that F1 comes up very short even compared to MotoGP3.

      There are a few drivers who feel they can do anything they want in F1 and there are others who drive really well. I won’t name the drivers who are irresponsible as that will spark a lot of debate but their names rhyme with Fettel, TerStappen, and Gnussen.

      1. If I recall, the leave room requirement is for a driver defending his position not for a driver overtaking. Perhaps the rule needs to be modified so that it includes both circumstances.

      2. @freelittlebirds

        He’s 100% right – the rule to leave the space should be removed from the rules

        There is no requirement for a driver who is ahead to leave space (i.e. come off the racing line) for another driver who is behind at the exit of a corner. This has been a long-standing interpretation of the rules for well over a decade – think back to Michael Schumacher and Montoya at Imola 15 years ago for example. Though I would say the Verstappen/Leclerc incident in Austria was a much closer call – Verstappen was only fractionally ahead.

        There is a requirement for a driver to leave space for another when they’ve already moved off-line to defend (e.g. Verstappen’s penalty for the incident with Bottas at Monza last year) and when they’re rejoining after going off the track (e.g. Vettel’s penalty for the incident with Hamilton in Canada this year).

        I’m sure everyone at Ferrari understands all of this. What we have here is a football player rolling around in the 18-yard box hoping to get a penalty, and then when it isn’t given, standing up and getting on with the game.

        1. This is a nice summary, and crystal clear, thanks.

          The only thing I still don’t understand is why it took them 3 hours… (and why they wanted to listen to the drivers)

          1. Some of the time was in just convening the drivers and the data, then a decision had to be reached once everything was compiled, but then they have to carefully summarize their decision formally in writing. I do think a good point was raised by @keithcollantine in his article about the decision taking longer than the race itself, and how that shouldn’t be, and how in-race decisions don’t require driver interviews, so why should decisions from incidents near the race end be treated differently.

        2. You are right, there is no rule but Verstappen was not ahead and they were side by side.

          1. But to me they may look at side by side as fair enough if in this case Max was side by side pretty early upon entry into the corner. It’s not like it was a desperate dive bomb and he was somewhat out of control with no reasonable hope of stamping his authority on it. CL also allowed tons of room for Max and I think that’s what gave Max momentum and the ultimate taking over of the real estate.

        3. The same rules have been consistently applied differently based on whether you run someone off the track on straight and braking zone or in corner exits. In f1 it has for some reason always been acceptable to ram others off the track on corner exits but if you do the same move in braking zone or straightaway you always get a penalty. It is annoying how the same identical move is completely fine in certain places of the track but a clear penalty in all other places.

        4. @keithcollantine – Surely you see a difference between faking an injury and having rules that allow one driver to push another off the track, yes? And even LEC–as your own site reported–said hard racing is fine as long as we have clarity on what is allowed. Comparing his reaction to a literal cheat footballer is a bit much, imo.

          But also, I understand that driving someone off at corner exit is allowed, but it makes zero sense as to why. If LEC had taken the driving line and smashed into VER or driven him off inside, that would have been a penalty. If he had blocked him going into the corner and left no room, driving him off track, that would have been a penalty. But it’s fine on corner exit. Again, while it is allowed, it is extremely inconsistent.

          If hard racing and blocking is allowed, then cut out the other rules. Allow multiple moves, allow drivers to push off track whenever. Otherwise, this practice is bonkers.

        5. @keithcollantine beautifully succint

      3. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        12th July 2019, 14:20

        I’m a little confused – are we saying that there are no rules for overtaking in F1? Did they forget to add those over the past 70 years or simply got too tired dealing with all the other rules that they never got around to overtaking rules?

        I cannot see how Verstappen can clear Leclerc out of the track (intentionally) and that not be a rule violation. Maybe he was an inch or a nanometer ahead when that happened but it’s unlikely that the cars will side-to-side 100% over a corner.

        1. @freelittlebirds Imho they do not just look at whether or not a driver is a hair ahead or a foot ahead because if they did then any driver doing a desperate dive bomb just for the sake of getting any part of his front wing ahead by any small amount, would be allowed to take the corner…allowed that the defender would have to cede the corner. But what if that dive bomb had the driver somewhat out of control and not realistically negotiating the corner? It’s not just about being ahead, but being ahead in control and taking at least some semblance of a reasonable line so that any desperate dive isn’t just rewarded simply because the driver late braked. Hanging on by a thread and ‘earning a corner’ with a desperation move isn’t the kind of stamping of one’s authority on a corner vs another driver that we want to see. Of course sometimes the dive bomb works, and control is maintained, but it shouldn’t just be an automatic ticket to own the corner for the sake of being an inch ahead.

        2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
          12th July 2019, 21:32

          This is getting comical – Checo also doesn’t know the rules either as he also believes that there is a rule to leave space when overtaking.

          Judging by the way most F1 drivers race, I have a feeling they might also not know the rules either as they leave quite a bit of space as they overtake.

      4. There is no rule (written or not) for leaving space in corners. The rule that recently was introduced / put down in writing/ concerns only straights/braking zones. I think it was Alonso who confused many people with his “You have to leave space all the time”. That what racing is all about ,written rules or not..Otherwise they might as well put them each in separate lane ,like swimmers..

    2. Fair point. In any case rules need to be consistent and simplified. So drivers don’t need to consider 10 rules with another driver alongside them.

      1. @jureo The problem with that is that rarely are two incidents identical, so each situation has to be considered on it’s own. I don’t think in the heat of the moment the drivers are reciting the rules to themselves. They have a pretty good idea going back to their karting days when they’re being clean, when they’re being unfair, and when they are doing something somewhere in the middle that might or might not be investigated, and might or might not be penalized. The general idea is pretty simple. There is an etiquette of fairness going into a corner or else any bloke could block any other bloke with crazy moves and there would never be any real racing, but once a driver earns a corner, he has earned it and can take the real estate as he pleases with the defender having to deal with that. And of course therein lies the debatable part. How fairly/unfairly did it happen. And let’s not forget, controversy and debatable stuff is great for the show too. Do we really want it to be black and white, easy peasy, all drivers leave room for all others all the time? I think the racing would be so sterile it wouldn’t be dramatic.

    3. To penalise a driver and change the winner of the race is exactly the same with penalise a driver and change the 19th position of the classification.
      What makes difference is the stewards. Because they know the unofficial results, and they know circumstances that they may cause afterwards. That also cause inconsistency.
      So, what we need? Stewards shouldn’t be aware of the classification until all the investigations concluded.
      Problem? Solved. Your welcome.

      1. William Jones
        12th July 2019, 19:12

        In addition, can we anonymised the data? Add a filter to their video replays that blocks in each car in a solid, random colour? Stop them from watching the race live and only acting on a replay of incidents sent to them?

      2. What are you gonna do? Black out the cars and helmets? Otherwise, they will have a pretty darn good idea of whether or not an incident has merit.

    4. This only has any meaning if he would give clear examples. But the only one I can think of is the first lap incident between Vettel and Max in a China. But that wasn’t even under investigation. So what is he talking about?

      He was just hoping for a penalty by sticking on the outside.

      1. He took the place back the previous lap by sticking to the outside – which is why Max ran him off the track.

    5. He joins the list of his teammate, and team boss who can be classified as spoilt whining babies.

    6. The one thing Leclerc needs to take away from this is that his defense was sloppy and needs improvement. He left the door way too open.

        1. I don’t think he has learned that you need to defend the inside. He shows the racecraft of Rosberg. He will do some fail attempt at running out of the corner, damage his car and get a penalty..

      1. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        12th July 2019, 21:37

        It wasn’t a good defense but at the same time Max is the worst violator of defending his position so telling Charles to get better doesn’t mean much when the ther guy is the worst defender on the other side of the spectrum.

        Hopefully, they can both improve.

    7. Get over it Charles. It’s racing, gotta defend better if you want the win.

      1. “It is very easy for me to move on.

        you see he is already over it ;)

      2. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
        12th July 2019, 21:35

        You mean move twice like Verstappen did at Baku? No penalty there either but apparently the stewards they had chosen that day couldn’t count to 2 :-)

    8. Carnage time. If this is how the stewards interpret the rules sportsmanship is dead. There is no longer such a thing as a hard clean pass or a hard clean battle. Forget DRS just smash your way past. May the dirtiest driver win.

      1. Yeah, duh. Any loose cannon’s just got looser.

    Comments are closed.