Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2019

Leclerc: It would have been wrong not to penalise us in Japan

2019 Mexican Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc accepted the penalty he and Ferrari were given for failing to bring his damaged car into the pits during the Japanese Grand Prix.

Ferrari was fined €25,000 for leaving Leclerc’s car on-track as parts were flying off his front wing following his first-lap collision with Max Verstappen. Parts of Leclerc’s car struck Lewis Hamilton’s car, breaking one of his mirrors, and went into one of Lando Norris’s brake ducts, causing overheating.

Leclerc was also given a 10-second time penalty for the incident. However the subsequent disqualification of both Renaults meant it had no effect on his finishing position.

According to Leclerc, as soon as he saw the footage of the incident he realised he would get a penalty. “Actually I was quite expecting it,” he said. “Once I arrived in stewards room and I saw the images, it would have been wrong to not get a penalty for that.”

However Leclerc admitted he “was not thinking about” the incident during the race. Radio messages between him and the team during the race show he queried the first instruction for him to come in, then the Ferrari pit wall changed its mind and told him to stay out.

Leclerc was also given a five-second time penalty for his collision with Verstappen. He revealed he spoke to the Red Bull driver afterwards.

“We had a small discussion before we went into the stewards room,” said Leclerc. “He knew I had done a mistake and these things happen.”

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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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10 comments on “Leclerc: It would have been wrong not to penalise us in Japan”

  1. Leclerc is like redbull Vettel outstanding in qually and outfront when other cars around though he not as good. His best race of the year for me is Bahrain he shown everything his wins were ok but nothing special with that engine and the track layout. Hamilton in Hungary is far better and Max in Austria was another level

    1. I think that’s unfair. The Ferrari has generally been much more competitive in qualifying than in the races, which is the opposite of the Mercedes and Red Bull relative, so it would be unrealistic to expect him to spectacularly finish the race several places higher than his grid slot. How many times did Hamilton do that in 2013, when it was a similar situation for Mercedes? Leclerc has shown that he has much more to him than Vettel, and is nowhere near as accident-prone or poor in wheel-to-wheel racing as Vettel was at this stage of his career.

      1. Also, he is still more points than vettel despite his team ‘strategically’ prefer vettel.

        Think about it, even for the preferences vettel got since the start of the season, if they still started to be neutral after Monza, Leclerc would have won 5 or even 6 consecutive races.

    2. You’ve not seen him in Sauber, I think. Or you can be more informed if you watch his F2 races. When was the last time vettel had overtakes in difficult turns similar to the ones that Leclerc execute? You compare him to vettel who just before few races spun because he was ‘surprised to see Hamilton’ and the only time he effectively defended against a faster car is where he illegally impeded the faster after making a mistake, AGAIN (for the hundredth time).

      It is very apparent that he tried to spoil Ferrari’s plan after knowing that they had deliberately given him super-cold tyres in qualifier. Watch his lap before the final qualifying lap.

      Also, isn’t this the same Ferrari vettel fans has been blaming for 3 years? According to them, Ferrari is far worse than Mercedes and Redbull and the GOAT vettel somehow was still giving competition to Hamilton.

      Now, Leclerc has disproved that myth and still you compare him with vettel. How can anyone watch vettel in every race and compare him to Hamilton or Leclerc, I don’t see.

  2. the main concern for me is why on earth the stewards didn’t instruct Ferrari to pit him. these safety decisions should come from race control.

    1. @naylamp Isn’t it race control who decides on the flags?

      1. @f1osaurus, whilst most of the flag signals would effectively be ordered by the Race Director, in this particular case @naylamp may have a point there.

        Normally, the Clerk of the Course – who is meant to be an intermediary between the Race Director and the stewards, and usually a direct subordinate of the Race Director – is responsible for ordering a flag to be shown.

        However, Appendix H of the International Sporting Code, which covers the use of warning flags (amongst other provisions), has the following clause covering the use of the black and orange flag (for unsafe cars), as well as the black and white flag (for reckless driving):
        “Normally, the decision to show the last two flags (in e and f) rests with the Clerk of the Course; however, it may be taken by the Stewards, provided that this is stipulated in the supplementary or championship regulations.”

        That clause does suggest that there might be the option for the stewards to take the initiative themselves to issue the black and orange flag, so long as F1’s sporting regulations permitted them to do so.

    2. Japanese GP was a complete farce. One cannot seriously try to investigate a farce. “Just leave it” (copyrights to adorable Hyacinth Bucket (Patricia Routledge) when she and Richard opened the gates to Daisy’s house)! :)

  3. For continuing on track in an unsafe condition, yes, but the penalty for the first-lap incident was a yoke, though, especially since that wasn’t even the initial decision by the Stewards. Sainz didn’t get one for his not-greatly-dissimilar incident with Albon in Monza.

    1. @jerejj Sainz should have though. I am all for less penalties but I don’t see in a category that is supposed to boast the best drivers in the world, why everyone thinks losing control of the car, (Leclerc in Japan, Vettel in Canada), is mitigation to say there should be no penalty, if I lose control of my car and crash into another car, guess who would be deemed at fault and have to take the insurance hit!!

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