Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2019

Leclerc relegated to seventh after two time penalties, fined for safety violation

2019 Japanese Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc has been given two time penalties following his collision with Max Verstappen in the Japanese Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver was given a five-second time penalty for colliding with Verstappen on the first lap of the race and a further 10-second time penalty for driving his car “in an unsafe condition” due to damage from the contact.

The penalty drops Leclerc, who originally finished sixth, to seventh place and promotes Daniel Ricciardo one place to sixth.

The stewards originally decided the collision between Verstappen and Leclerc did not need to be investigated. However after looking into it they judged Leclerc was at fault, and in addition to his time penalty handed him the first two penalty points on his licence.

“Car 16 and car 33 were side by side as they transited [sic] turn one and approached turn on the first lap, with car 16 on the inside,” the stewards noted. “As the cars approached the apex of turn 2, car 33, which was marginally in front, stayed wide and allowed sufficient room to the inside but car 16 lost front grip in the wake of the car in front and abruptly understeered towards the outside of the track, contacting car 33 and forcing it off the track.

“While the loss of front grip on car 16 caused the contact and was not intentional, that loss of grip in close proximity to the car in front should have been anticipated and allowed for by car 16. Car 16 is judged predominantly at fault for the incident. This is a somewhat unusual first lap incident, as only these cars were directly involved, so few of the normal mitigating circumstances exist.”

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The stewards also criticised Ferrari for telling Leclerc to stay out on the track with a damaged car. Part of Leclerc’s broken front wing hit Hamilton’s car, which the stewards said “only narrowly avoided being a major incident”. Ferrari were fined €25,000 in addition to Leclerc’s time penalty.

“Car 16 received front wing damage in an incident on lap 1 at turn 2,” the stewards noted. “The car continued on after the incident and did not pit at the end of lap 1.

“During lap 2, anticipating a call about the car, the team told the Race Director they were calling the car into the pits at the end of lap 2. During lap 2, at turn 11 one section of the front wing detached from the car. Later on that lap, after turn 14 a larger section of front wing detached from car 16 and impacted car 44 which was closely following car 16. This piece of wing narrowly avoided an impact in the area of the cockpit of car 44 and destroyed the right-side mirror of car 44.

“After this second piece detached, the team felt the car was now in a safe condition and despite previously telling the Race Director that the car would be called to the pits, they told car 16 to remain out and not to pit. On lap 3 the Race Director called the team and directed the car be brought to the pits for inspection. Car 16 pitted at the end of lap 3.

“By not bringing car 16 into the pits at the end of lap 1, immediately after the incident for a safety inspection when there was damage clearly visible and then by telling the driver to remain out for an additional lap after telling the Race Director otherwise, the team created an unsafe condition on the circuit which only narrowly avoided being a major incident and also increased the likelihood of additional incidents after the one noted.”

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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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66 comments on “Leclerc relegated to seventh after two time penalties, fined for safety violation”

  1. Nice. Good decisions.

    I am happy.

    1. Happy not because he is relegated, happy with decisions to penalise.

      Stupid maneuvers and dangerous driving should be penalized.

    2. Sonny Crockett
      13th October 2019, 12:21


      Leaving Leclerc out ruined Lando’s race, affected others and was downright dangerous.

  2. ridiculous, plain and simple.

    1. Ridiculous?
      Absolutely correct decisions.

      1. The non-registered commenter probably judged it ‘ridiculous’ as these decisions should have been taken during the race.

        Though one mitigating factor for the stewards was that they were too busy finding an excuse why not to penalised a crystal clear false start.

        1. Sonny Crockett
          13th October 2019, 12:23

          In MotoGP, if you move it’s a false start. I think most people would agree that that is the very definition of a false start.

          Whatever F1’s current rules are they need to be changed. If you move before the lights go out it’s a false start. Full stop.

          1. Rules are fine (see below); stewarding is flawed.

            36.13 Either of the penalties under Articles 38.3c) or d) will be imposed on any driver who is judged
            to have :
            a) Moved before the start signal is given, such judgement being made by an FIA approved
            and supplied transponder fitted to each car, or ;
            b) Positioned his car on the starting grid in such a way that the transponder is unable to
            detect the moment at which the car first moved from its grid position after the start
            signal is given.

          2. So they have a strong provision and yet decided to ignore it while making a decision. Stewarding has turned into a yoke.

        2. You mean exactly the same way that Lewis Hamilton wasn’t penalized for a false start some years ago, yet people defended him while attacking Vettel? hmmm

    2. Eh? How? I mean….HOW?
      The thing that is ridiculous is that this wasn’t dealt with immediately during the race.

  3. And this couldn’t be done during the race? Who is protecting Leclerc that much? They say is supported by Jean Todt. Today there was no investigation and after they saw the scandal on social media they decide to investigate “after the race” and with the time sheet drop him 1 ridiculous place.

    Amazing the level of power and protection Leclerc has into Ferrari (Monza Qualy incident) or FIA Stewards (Unsafe release amazingly solved with a fine to the team). Why he has that political power? I would like to read an article of that.

  4. Well, had they done this sooner, Hamilton might have been in a real fight with Vettel (or even the win? no, not that, I don’t think), better late then never I suppose, but I do wonder why it took them so long to look into it then.

    1. They had to make sure ferrari wasn’t in contention for the title any more, as audience drops then, so after the end of the race they learnt that and at that point a penalty made no difference.

    1. Is there a reason (a real one, supported by rules or precedent) why Le Clerc’s two infractions were not investigated during the race? I mean, they happened on the first lap! Plenty of time to investigate, surely?

      1. Sorry Proesterchen, this was meant as an original comment, not as a comment to you. Sure would like that “delete” button!

      2. @waptraveler Investigations into early-race events often get done post-race, if a team raises a protest or new evidence comes to light (in this case, I suspect both). The thing that concerns me was that it took 3 investigations where 1, with immediate formal announcement that it would be done post-race, was made. There was at least one occasion (sadly I don’t recall the occasion) where an event that received such a notice then got an in-race response, because everyone involved retired and, per the regulations, got marched to the stewards’ office after explaining themselves to the media.

  5. GtisBetter (@)
    13th October 2019, 10:41

    This clearly needed all the attention from the stewards and input from the drivers that was not available the stewards and in no way could have been decided in the 40 laps that followed….. /s

    1. The extra pitstop to claim fastest lap panned out well….

  6. Let him learn, assist, respect and obey – before it gets too late! His time will come (but is not just yet).

    1. From the way he drives and talks it may too late for him to learn. He disobeys team once again while endangering his peers this penalty is pat on his hand compared to his actions.

      1. Sonny Crockett
        13th October 2019, 12:29

        Yep, Leclerc is rapidly going from being a breath of fresh air for F1 to being a whining spoilsport!

      2. Sounds exactly like Max Verstappen early this year and most of his previous years. Would you say he is the same driver today? As far as I recall, he hasn’t been stupidly dangerous during braking and hasn’t driven into anybody lately.

  7. Too linient for endangering lives of others and ignoring team twice for repairs. He should have been blackflagged for that.

  8. The penalty seems fair to me. I’m furious about the fine (Well, internet furious ;) )

    Narrowly escaped a major incident should not be penalised by such a mild penalty. If you can’t actually make the penalty significant to any team then start disqualifying cars, unacceptable to put a price on leaving a car out with bits flying off!

    1. *Unnaceptable to put a price so low that it becomes worth while for a team to pay it I should have said!

      1. The actual price for leaving Lec out is clearly the time penalty. The fine is indeed a joke, but 10 seconds is more or less ok to me.
        For bith incidents I cannot understand why these decisions could not be taken immediatly.

        1. I still disagree, because it still makes it worthwhile for a team to leave the driver out, take the 10s penalty to avoid a 22s+ pitstop. The safest option should be the quickest option when it comes to safety issues as serious as this one. Yes, Hamilton could have been struck on the helmet, but what about the marshals, the crowd? At those speeds, it could have easily reached them.

    2. @Will Jones The fine, I think, is for Ferrari telling Race Control one thing and Leclerc another, which is technically a separate offence from the two listed, though perhaps the stewards regarded it as a component of the endplate fiasco and therefore not needing a separate document or investigation. Usually, merely ignoring a race control call (even if safety-related) doesn’t get any fine whatsoever.

  9. Farcical from the stewards to change a decision. They should’ve looked at it more closely originally. Furthermore, the lack of consistency is pathetic; I distinctly remember Max forcing LeClerc off at Austria, was that penalised, no. Ridiculous.

  10. Ferrari might have to run one additional tiny Mission Winnow Logo on the floor during next FP1 in order to compensate! Where will it end???

  11. That’s a relief its final been penalised (I don’t buy the understeering by the way), but surely if ever there was a case for a black and orange flag being waved it was this.

    This is the highest form of motorsports. Silly keyboard warriors such as myself shouldn’t have to school the race stewards as to the flags available to them. Debris with high enough relatively velocity to destroy a wing mirror could have just as easily destroyed Hamilton’s eyes… but “let them race” etc. of course.

    1. +1 Masi is undoing all the good Charlie had done. Very unfortunate situation we are in.

    2. Totally agree if anything is not enough should’ve been heavier. Ferrari got a spoiled, headache of a driver who does not listen, he could’ve saved the team of the fine but after being told “box,box,box” (which he totally ignored) he judged the car good after he reported damage,the €25000 are a joke compared to the damages caused to the teams who suffered from his behaviour. Sad that Vettel suffered that mistake,this is what let’s him down this silly incidents,when his side of the garage seemed to have the stupid probs sorted it’s unfortunate,after that amazing pole lap it’s unfortunate.

    3. black and orange flag

      Sorry, the black and white flag is the flag du jour of 2019. Next year, race control will pick a different flag to start waving.

      Seriously though, the satisfaction at the penalty is tempered by the frustration at the stewards initially clearing/OKing it, and the delay in issuing this.

      It’s time we start penalizing safety violations in a way that hurts the teams – time penalties for the drivers (as is done today) and knocking off WCC points for the team. Lop off 20% of a team’s WCC points, and suddenly they’ll dust off and rediscover their workplace safety manuals.

      1. @phylyp Exactly, they can’t even seem to decide if they’re going to eventually decide on an issue or not!

  12. This is a Very much deserved penalty.

    Without doubt Leclerc hit Verstappen, when Verstappen was ahead and instead of slowing more to hold the line he had held, he drifted out. Then he continued to drive his car with the wing end plate twisted outwards and dragging on the track, which given it was producing sparks, so that he must have been aware that he needed to have stopped. Ferrari, should have conveyed this over the radio for him to stop immediately.

  13. 100% fault lies with Leclerc for the first lap incident, but I don’t think it’s fully his fault that he stayed out with a faulty wing. The real extent of the damage could only properly be assessed by the team and the officials. The former should have been more forceful with the call to box, while the officials should have showed the black and orange at least once in the 2 laps Leclerc did not pit. And it should have been a six digit fine at least.

    1. Have to wait for the radio transcript, but I thought the team called him in and LEC was debating the call and said he could stay out

      1. Sonny Crockett
        13th October 2019, 12:26

        That’s how I read it.

        Ferrari played things correctly but Leclerc thought he knew better.

      2. Team called him on 2 separate occasions(both of which were broadcast on live tv) on 1st lap and 2nd lap both those orders were disobeyed by Leclerc. Also race engineer wasnt firm with his orders and sounded like he was scared to tell his driver to obey instructions. So blame does lie with team for not putting their drivers on a tight leash and not doing right thing.

      3. The team told him they’ll check the car after the contact, then just told him to come in at the end of L1 with no more info, LEC disputed that and stayed out, saying the car feels ok.

        Then they told him to pit again on L2 which was confirmed by both sides.

        Then around the Casio chicane they tell him to stay out (as they noticed the endplate has fallen off and thought the car is now ok.)

        The next lap they tell him to pit again and he pits.

        If anything I’d say it’s Ferrari’s fault for lack of clear communication.

    2. @wsrgo Technically the penalties are issued to competitors, so the only way it might have gone the fine-only route if it was implausible for a driver to meaningfully contribute to a penalty’s acquisition (unsafe releases tend to be categorised this way because under the regulations, a driver is meant to be under their crew’s strict control at that point). Not pitting with a car in hazardous condition has, under some circumstances, been substantially the driver’s fault, therefore sporting penalties are done for all such incidents, even hypothetical scenarios where compliance was verifiably outside the driver’s control.

  14. Five seconds, it’s a yoke, the penalty for continuing on track in an unsafe condition, perfectly justified, but the penalty for the first-lap incident not as much. The Stewards should stick to their decision, not take them back later.

  15. what I don’t understand is why the steward didn’t force Ferrari to pit LEC. they have done that in other races to avoid putting the rest of the drivers in danger. that flying part could’ve hit HAM the same way MAS years ago.

    1. Yes, exactly it’s no good giving a retrospective penalty for driving a car in a dangerous state, because the danger is immediate – and in this case it was obvious to anyone watching that bits were flying off all over the place, with a car following in close proximity. I too immediately thought of the Massa incident, which was pretty much the first time anyone started considering bits flying off a car and affecting the following driver. I feel a number of stewarding decisions are undermining incremental safety improvements made in recent years and it’s a dangerous game to play.

      1. 10s is an appropriate penalty for potentially dangerous behaviour, perhaps. Clearly dangerous behaviour that causes an actual danger to arise is supposed to result in a black flag.

  16. Wow what a way to turn a 1-2 on the track to this mess. But it’s understandable Charles will make mistakes as it is only his second year but what is puzzling is why Vettel continues to make mistakes. He was lucky today to get away with a false start.

  17. The stewarding is a shambles. Ever since their Canada trauma, their decisions have been haphazard, delayed, confusing, contradictory, frequently unfair and potentially dangerous. From waving a black and white flag that means nothing to not waving a black and orange flag to tell a driver whose car is falling apart to get off the track, they seem determined to turn their job into a clown circus act. Today’s race was stunningly inept, taking 10 laps for some incidents to even register as under investigation. Just get some people in who can do actual stewarding during the actual race.

    1. @david-br
      ”Just get some people in who can do actual stewarding during the actual race.”
      – Like me, LOL. Maybe I should try and apply for becoming part of an F1 race Steward-panel for a single race.

      1. @jerejj :o) Yeah, I’m not suggesting I could do it! But I don’t have much of an issue with stewarding when they decide quickly, I accept it’s tricky to call some incidents and opinions vary. But they’re either dismissing stuff quickly, then coming back to the same issue later (didn’t they do that with Vettel’s start?) or taking faaaaar too long to decide or act. Charlie Whiting would have called Leclerc in ASAP with that damage. They need that kind of authority to make safety calls within a few corners. And then race incidents like Leclerc’s collision needed to be sorted within a few laps – so we can see those penalties in race, the drivers responding to them, not hours after the race. Hearing what the drivers have to say is a lame excuse, unnecessary in this (and other) cases.

        1. I’m just waiting for Gunther’s comments about what a great job the stewards are doing. Lol

        2. @david-br Maybe it’d be time to start discussing about a permanent steward-panel again. Maybe having the same set of stewards throughout a season wouldn’t be such a bad thing after all.

      2. @jerejj You may be less distant from that than you think. Local tracks are always looking for officials (especially flag marshals and scrutineers), and it’s then possible to work your way up to steward (this may take 1-3 years, depending on how desparate your particular track is for stewards, and how well you perform the “junior” duties). Then, you do maybe half-a-dozen races to earn your international steward credential. After some time doing this (which varies according to which international-levelevents you steward), you get to do an observation of a F1 stewarding. At that point, you can steward any F1 race you like (provided the FIA think it’s a good idea).

  18. Fair enough on both, no major complaints.

    But a minor complaint… as I believe a few others have said, if the car was in an unsafe condition to drive (and it obviously was, with bits hanging off) a black and orange flag should have been shown. I don’t think it’s correct for the stewards to say ‘yeah, we didn’t really think it was unsafe enough to show a B&O, but we’re still giving you a penalty for not pitting to fix it’.

    1. @neilosjames agreed. Flag should’ve been shown.

      Otherwise happy with the stewarding this weekend.

  19. Hey @keithcollantine, can either you and/or @dieterrencken do an op-ed piece regarding the situation regarding LEC-HAM situation? I’m sure more than one of us would love to see some expert analysis on it, whether we ultimately agree or not.

  20. Gorgeous comments again, Guys, I enjoy it so much here.

    I was wondering why they would not want to clean the track from that carbon debris — just before this fast “130R”… [that’s why I think that the frontwing’s ends should be made of a different material; because every SC is a pain]

    I am wondering why no one of you is hinting on the VER-LEC incident at GP AUT, where VER pushed LEC off.

    1. Because Maxine is the golden boy of the era. He unseated Vettel and is supposedly doing more in a worse car. That alone is making him untouchable. Same goes for the fans from his country. A bit more than patriotic, in my opinion.

  21. The Stewards are out of control. Leclerc probably didn’t realize how badly the fin was damaged. All these penalties are sucking the fun and competitiveness out of this sport. Like Vettle’s ridiculous penalty in Canada.

    1. Matt Alexander
      17th October 2019, 16:01

      I still can’t understand why people think Vettle got cheated in Canada? He missed the turn for no other reason than he was feeling the pressure from Hamilton and choked. He then came back on to the track after what is essentially taking a shortcut over the grass and being COMPLETELY off the track. If you don’t have to cede the position then, how many corners can you cut to stay in front of a competitor before you get penalized? Is there an exact number in the regulations? 1 corner cut under pressure seems fair to me to have to give up the position. And yes, he did swerve right intentionally to try force Hamilton into the wall or brake hard as he did. These are supposedly the best drivers in the world (a 4 time World Champion in Vettle) and to be caught looking in your mirrors and cooking the brakes at that chicane SHOULD result in him losing the position! The pathetic part in all of this was that had he done that immediately he would have passed Hamilton again in one of the DRS zones given the superior power and aero of the SF90 in a straight line.

      And yes, all this wishy-washy stewarding stems directly from the Vettle penalty in Canada.
      Leclerc is becoming the top whiner on the paddock and should have pitted when told to box on lap 1 (Fault: Leclerc and Ferrari) and then should have been black-flagged after not pitting on lap 2 (Fault: FIA). Everybody is afraid to “offend” Ferrari because they keep threatening to take their ball and go home. Arrivederci as far as I’m concerned if you can’t play by the same set of rules as everyone else. cc to Merc as they are starting to show signs of that same attitude.

  22. Vitaly Kukshin
    13th October 2019, 21:54

    Not arguing the decisions I should say those had to be made during the race. So that Charles could make correct decision as to go for the “free” pit stop in the end of the race in pursuit of the best lap or not.

  23. These post-race decisions seem to be designed to protect the stewards form being pelted with rotten tomatoes. :-) On another point, just because one is a great F1 driver does not mean one is particularly intelligent.

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