The FIA stewards discussed whether Charles Leclerc’s crash at the end of qualifying might have been deliberate, but quickly concluded it wasn’t.
Leclerc was leading Q3 as drivers began their final runs in qualifying. The Ferrari driver was there certain of pole position if the session was red-flagged, as there was insufficient time left to restart it. When he struck the barriers at the Swimming Pool, qualifying was halted and Leclerc was confirmed on pole position.
However after studying the incident, the stewards quickly decided Leclerc had made a legitimate error by striking the barrier at the inside of the right-hander.
“The incident was looked at immediately in race control and it was quite clear to us that it was an error on at the first part, at turn 15,” said Masi.
That strike damaged Leclerc’s steering, which caused him to hit a kerb and then make heavier contact with the barrier. Ferrari had to make extensive repairs to his car and feared he had damaged his gearbox.
“Having looked at it, looked at the data and also listening to the team communication, I don’t think any driver would go out there to severely damage their car to that degree in any circumstance because of the consequences that may arise out of that,” said Masi.
Leclerc was unable to start the race after suffering a technical problem on the way to the grid. Ferrari have not ruled out the possibility the fault was related to his crash.
Had the stewards believed Leclerc’s crash was deliberate, he could have been stripped of pole position, as happened to Michael Schumacher when he deliberately stopped his car at Rascasse during qualifying 15 years ago.
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