Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Monaco, 2021

FIA certain of no foul play in Leclerc’s qualifying crash

2021 Monaco Grand Prix

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The FIA stewards discussed whether Charles Leclerc’s crash at the end of qualifying might have been deliberate, but quickly concluded it wasn’t.

Formula 1 race director Michael Masi confirmed the possibility the Ferrari driver intentionally put his car into the barriers in order to secure pole position was debated in the stewards’ room.

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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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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24 comments on “FIA certain of no foul play in Leclerc’s qualifying crash”

  1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
    24th May 2021, 8:16

    Schumacher = too obvious
    Leclerc = too much collateral suffered making it convincing
    Rosberg = just right

    1. Kyle (@hammerheadgb)
      24th May 2021, 8:17

      [/tinfoil hat]

    2. Deep investigation to the latter two then!

    3. hail the Rosberg smirk

  2. Drivers must know that first laps in Q2 or Q3 are always critical. Maybe not so in Q1, but in Q2 and Q3, first flying laps are critical.

  3. The FIA should add a rule that says “if you cause a red or waved yellow flag that forces a competitor to abandon a qualifying lap then your fastest time in that session will be deleted”. Just seems weird to me that a driver who puts their car in a barrier, gravel trap or stops on track can potentially start on pole. That rule might even have the added benefit as drivers try to do more than two quick laps in a session, just in case. I say all this despite being quite pleased Leclerc got pole.

    1. @leethatsme Indycar has this rule, and it was discussed briefly after Quali but both Verstappen and Bottas, who both thought they could have been on pile without the red flag, agreed that F1 doesn’t need a rule like that.

    2. @leethatsme

      There seems to be a lot of hostility to the idea of punishing drivers who impede everyone’s qualifying.

      Maybe the could just Make them start the race with the car as qualified. I thought that was the purpose of Park Ferme.

      1. Perc Fermi is to ensure the car doesn’t get modified, obviously there needs to be exceptions for accidents.

        Stuff happens on the track that changes the dynamic. A crash in a race will cause a safety car which will bring the cars closer and disrupt strategies.

        Besides the risk-reward isn’t there. The attention was on the gearbox cos that can incur a penalty but really any unseen damage can cause issues like with Leclerc here. My understanding is you need to request permission on what specific parts of the car you want to work on and for what reason. So unseen damage can be an issue and in this case ruined his race (from his own driving error).

  4. Leclerc did it at the best corner of the circuit if on purpose, F2 seen several crash there this weekend and nobody can see if on purpose or not but karma.

    1. No chance it was on purpose. I can’t stand Ferrari but that crash was clearly accidental.

    2. They had telemetry data from the car, they could tell.

  5. They would’ve found a foul if Ferrari won the race. :)

    1. You mean the Ferrari International Assistance?

  6. Leclerc might not have done it “on purpose”, but it does seem to happen relatively often that provisional pole sitters go out first on the last run and then take too much risk.

    1. Because they have earned the privilege to push over the limit…

    2. @f1osaurus

      I find that odd that so many adults try to view this as “on purpose” or not.

      It is all about risk and reward, and LeClerc had no real risk. So it isn’t surprising he crashed.

  7. Rosberg deliberately stuffed up the quali runners behind him in 2014. Yet that is rarely discussed by the F1 coverage.

    You cannot discuss Schu in 2006 without discussing Rosberg in 2014. But that is exactly what the F1 coverage did. Terrible coverage.

    1. One driver is more famous than the other.

  8. Ben (@sunnchilde)
    24th May 2021, 19:25

    If any driver deliberately damages his car in order cause a red-flah situation, they should be banned from racing for the rest of that year. That would be a heinously dangerous and stupid thing to do.

  9. It was pretty obvious that this wasn’t intentional. However, I do feel that any red flag in Q3 should allow teams on track to pit and at least be given the chance to complete one flying lap. They’ll still be penalized since they will have wasted a set of tires through no fault of their own.

    1. Agree with this, I would have added 3-4 mins to the timer and after red flag was gone this would’ve given sainz, bottas, verstappen the chance to try for pole which they got taken away because of the red flag.

      1. What if there was a yellow flag though? Should they add time for those too? Cos they can also ruin flying laps if they are near the driver’s of those laps.

    2. It was only a few seconds though and the reason why you were given 10 minutes is so you will have plenty of time to set a good lap.

      F1 is all about risk management for uncommin events, for example a safety car due do a crash at the track will lead to gaps dissapearing and pit strategies being disrupted.

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