Leclerc was not given more lenient penalty by mistake, FIA confirms

2019 Japanese Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc was not incorrectly given a more lenient penalty when Ferrari failed to bring his damaged car into the pits during the Japanese Grand Prix, the FIA has confirmed.

Following his first-lap collision with Max Verstappen, Leclerc passed the pit lane entrance twice while pieces of his Ferrari fell on the track. The stewards announced after the race Leclerc had “10 seconds added to [his] elapsed race time” for continuing to drive a car which was in an unsafe state.

However the official FIA document describing the decision said the penalty had been issued “in accordance with Article 38.3 (d) of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.” This article stipulates a more severe penalty.

Article 38.9 (d) describes a “10 second stop‐and‐go time penalty”. If a driver is given this penalty after the race, as Leclerc was, they must have 30 seconds added to their race time instead of 10.

This prompted some reports to suggest Leclerc had been given the wrong penalty. However an FIA spokesperson confirmed to RaceFans the reference to “Article 38.3 (d)” in the stewards’ document is incorrect, and should have read “Article 38.3”.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2019
Team radio transcript: Why Ferrari told Leclerc not to pit damaged car
Leclerc’s 10-second time penalty, in addition to his five-second time penalty for the collision with Verstappen, dropped him from sixth place to seventh in the final classification. If he’d received a 30-second penalty instead he would have dropped out of the points to 13th place.

The last driver to be penalised for driving a car in an unsafe condition was Nico Rosberg during the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix following a collision with Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg was given a reprimand.

However this incident occurred on the final lap of the race, and Rosberg did not miss multiple opportunities to pit as Leclerc did.

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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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27 comments on “Leclerc was not given more lenient penalty by mistake, FIA confirms”

  1. TBH I never thought FIA had mistakenly given Leclerc a lenient penalty. Fairly clear they did so on purpose :oP

    1. @david-br – ha ha, cleverly spotted

  2. Really FIA, you put an addendum as a “mistake” or typo. Sure…. Can anyone take these clowns serious?

  3. I seriously can’t understand how you can overlook this. In the heat of the race maybe, but they took their time

  4. Rosberg was given a reprimand.

    In addition to “a ten second post race time penalty () along with two penalty points on his liscence (SIC).”
    And as stated Rosberg was on his last lap; no realistic opportunity to pit earlier.

    So still very lenient in LEC’s case, and probably not ‘by mistake’ as picked up by @david-br.

    1. @coldfly Rosberg’s 10-second time penalty and licence points were not for driving a car in an unsafe condition, those were for the collision with Hamilton.

      1. Rosberg was reprimanded and given two penalty points for completing the race with a damaged car; the FIA concluded that this broke article 12.1.1h of the FIA International Sporting Code which states “Any unsafe act or failure to take reasonable measures, thus resulting in an unsafe situation.” as a breach of the code.

  5. Wow the incompetence of this particular group of stewards seems to know no end.

    Has it ever happened before that so many incorrect calls were made in a single race?

    1. @f1osaurus Depends how one is counting, but the FIA’s admitted two. There have been two incorrect calls in races before, but I’ve seen some people count six:

      – This reference

      – The chequered flag call

      – I would also count twice re-opening an allegedly-settled investigation as an extra two breaches – this should have been one investigation that was immediately declared as “to investigate post-race unless all parties retire”

      – The yellow flag at the start despite no yellow flag apparently being intended is something I also class as a failure.

      – I would also argue that the failure to penalise Vettel for moving before the lights went out was a failure on the same basis as they argue failing to penalise Sainz for the same thing in Austria. They argue that simply because the car was behind the line both before and after the light change, and that the car was stationary at the lights-out, does not mean a jump start was not committed by rule 36.13a) as written. Apparently it was forgotten that the rule is “before”, not “as” the lights change.

      – Some count failure to respond to the endplate fiasco on Lap 2 with a black-and-orange flag a failure… (I’ve heard of people suggesting an immediate black flag, but that would definitely be a breach of due process, since mechanical failures have to have the black-and-orange flag first, and the black flag is only then issuable 3 laps later, with lesser breaches handled pretty much like this weekend’s was).

      – …and others count issuing a penalty in the absence of issuing the flag when there was opportunity to do so a failure. These are mutually exclusive unless one suggests that reacting at the end of Lap 1 is plausible, which is technically possible but potentially a breach of due process. Personally, I think there was scope to do as the stewards did within the regulations and therefore do not class either of the last two paragraphs as mistakes.

      – If by “race”, we are counting all events of the race weekend, some are also counting Guenther Steiner’s fine for being insulting about a steward on team radio. Even though there is clear precedent for it in a similar (if we’re accounting for inflation) fine issued to Scott Speed for the same offence in 2006, some are arguing it doesn’t breach any rule in the rulebook (I’d argue it does, under Articles 12 1 of the International Sporting Code).

      If it’s the two that the FIA are claiming, there are plenty of races that have had more, including (arguably) multiple races this season (which ones depends how you argue).

      If it’s the six I think it is, the only races coming to mind that match it are the 1973 Canadian Grand Prix (actually run by FISA, predecesor body to the FIA), where there were enough errors involving the Safety Car that we will probably never know who actually won, and the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix, when most of the errors happened before the starting lights went out and only revealed later.

      If it’s the nine some are arguing (or even eight of the nine), I say with some confidence, though not certainty, that it’s the most errors the FIA or any of its predecesors have ever committed in a 72-hour span. Any 72-hour span.

      I can only be grateful that most of the errors were relatively minor…

      1. @alianora-la-canta Wow, you counted even more than I assumed. Thanks. It’s a good read. Shocking though.

  6. So pardon my english, but was he given a penalty that was too lenient, was his penalty too harsh, or was it just right? The title and the first paragraph somehow contradict themselves in my head.

    1. That penalty is a pat on back of his hand and do it again and here is a candy for you(Renaults under investigation) compared to that Penalty Vettel got in Canada can be described as Vettel killed someone and was hanged for the crime.

      1. *Do not do it again

    2. @eljueta The FIA considers the penalty correct, and the reference in the document issuing it too strict.

      Hope that helps.

    3. @eljueta yeah I’m with you, this title sounds like a riddle and makes no sense. Seems to mean that it was a mistake not to give Leclerc a more lenient penalty, when it means something completely different. Not an easy one though. The title should have been something like “Leclerc’s more lenient penalty not a mistake, FIA confirms”.. even though this one sounds pretty bad too, but at least can’t be interpreted completely wrong I guess.

  7. It should have been a Black flag with Leclere’s number alongside, that is the official process, disqualification!

    1. @rpaco How, exactly, is that to be done on a press release? (Granted that disqualification was a theoretically-possible response, but putting an actual flag and race number alongside doesn’t work on any written media more formal than Twitter…)

    2. No, the official process is the black/orange flag, and after 3 laps of non-compliance, a black flag.

      Historically, Charlie Whiting tended to radio the team principal and tell them to get their driver the *beep* off the track, rather than wave the black/orange flag.

      1. @grat Which is what Masi tried, except he was probably too astonished he didn’t get the instant obedience Charlie did to actually issue the black/orange flag.

  8. Not surprising. Farcical.

  9. Well good to know it was a deliberately faulty decision then, I guess.

  10. I would be quite happy to lend my services to the FIA as a data entry assistant, should it wish to avoid similar issues in the future.

  11. It’s never to late to fix it. Give him 3 penalty points.

  12. So what does 38.3 state?

  13. Wow! The circus of the unforgettable 2019 Japanese GP continues! What else to follow? Revelation that all the stewards were too drunk during the race? I bet they were!

  14. Is 38.9 (d) in the 4th paragraph a typo of your own?

Comments are closed.