Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Albert Park, 2022

Leclerc and Zhou cleared, Tsunoda reprimanded for driving too slowly

2022 Australian Grand Prix

Posted on

| Written by

Charles Leclerc has kept his pole position for the Australian Grand Prix after the stewards investigated whether he slowed excessively on an in-lap during qualifying.

Two other drivers were investigated for the same reason. Zhou Guanyu was cleared but Yuki Tsunoda was issued a reprimand.

The stewards noted Leclerc “breached” the minimum time between the two Safety Car lines, while Zhou “slightly breached” it. However the stewards ruled both drivers lost time because they had slowed to ensure they did not impede others.

In Tsunoda’s case, the stewards judged “the required minimum lap time was breached without good or apparent reason.”

The minimum lap time, which is measured between Safety Car Lines Two (at pit exit) and One (at pit entry), was set at one minute and 36 seconds for this weekend. It is enforced to ensure drivers do not lap too slowly on their in-laps and create a safety risk.

Leclerc took over two minutes and 10 seconds to pass between the two lines when he entered the pits. However the stewards ruled he did not initially intend to pit.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Albert Park, 2022
Gallery: 2022 Australian Grand Prix qualifying in pictures
“[Leclerc] started a lap that was intended to be a cool down lap, not an in lap, which would not be subject to the minimum time restriction of the regulation. Part way through the lap, the decision was made to come in.

“During the lap there was heavy traffic and Leclerc took effort to ensure that he did not impede other drivers on push laps. These efforts significantly slowed his lap time. As a result, the minimum time was breached.

“The stewards accept the driver’s rationale for his actions; find that he acted reasonably under the circumstances; and, therefore, take no further action.”

Tsunoda collected his third reprimand of the season for his infringement. Until last year, that would have automatically triggered a 10-place grid penalty. However the threshold has been raised to five, meaning if he collects two more reprimands he will receive the grid drop.

Advert | Become a RaceFans supporter and go ad-free

2022 Australian Grand Prix

Browse all 2022 Australian Grand Prix articles

Author information

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...

Got a potential story, tip or enquiry? Find out more about RaceFans and contact us here.

24 comments on “Leclerc and Zhou cleared, Tsunoda reprimanded for driving too slowly”

  1. Has anyone ever got any penalty for such infringement?

    1. I remember this rule, buut why apply it now?

      Did he impede or put anyone in danger?

      Yesterday Vettrl, today this..

      Last thing we need for a good race is LeClerc to start from P6..

      Unless somebodys laptime was damaged?

      1. @jureo I just want consistency in how the rules are applied. If this is a ‘soft’ rule which has never been enforced before and the stewards haven’t given any indication that they are going to start being stricter on it, then I don’t see why a penalty should be applied. Maybe just a reprimand as a warning. But if it’s a ‘hard’ rule that is meant to be enforced with a zero tolerance policy, then they should have to penalise any who break it in the absence of force majeure.

        1. There are no such things as a ‘soft’ rule or a ‘hard’ rule – all regulations are written in the same document and have the same importance. If they exist, they should be applied consistently.

          1. +1

            Otherwise it ruins championships

          2. The stewards noted Leclerc “breached” the minimum time between the two Safety Car lines, while Zhou “slightly breached” it. However the stewards ruled both drivers lost time because they had slowed to ensure they did not impede others.

            In Tsunoda’s case, the stewards judged “the required minimum lap time was breached without good or apparent reason.”

            Now that the article has been updated, this looks to be exactly what I meant by ‘soft rule’. Leclerc and Zhou both broke the minimum time rule so by your definition they should have been penalised. But when taken in context of why they broke that rule, the stewards deemed they were not at fault. That seems a fair application of the rule imo.

            The rules can’t always apply strictly to every situation that will occur because then in niche cases like this the drivers can be in a situation where they are forced to break one rule or another. In this case – either slow down to let drivers on a lap pass safely but breach the minimum time rule, or keep going to stay within the minimum time and get a penalty for impeding.

          3. They can’t possibly break the rule if they are going at racing speed, can they @keithedin?
            And if someone catches up to them on a hot lap, pull over in a safe place.
            It doesn’t cost 30+ seconds to do so.

            I maintain that a rule is a rule, and allowing even a little bit of play is essentially like not having the rule at all.
            If we want consistency (and I think most of us do) then they have to apply in a clear, consistent and predictable way. All the time.

          4. Well S, I guess we can be glad you aren’t a steward. The internet may be a place without context and nuance, but real life doesn’t work that way.

          5. @S No, they clearly weren’t at racing speed. But they can be on a preparation lap, finding position on the track to start their lap, cooling the car etc, and using almost all the allotted time to do so. Then a car or cars come on fast laps and because of the point they catch them on the track they have to slow to let them pass safely. I don’t see a big issue with allowing some leniency in those cases – the drivers chose the right option.

          6. If I were a steward, pastaman, the rules would be enforced as they are written.
            If the rules need to change, then that’s the best incentive to do it.

            I totally understand what you are saying, @keithedin, but I don’t see how it is not a penalty.
            There’s loads of time/space to make it around the track in less than the maximum time if they just drive faster than the slowest possible. Driving as slowly as possible and then getting caught up in traffic and going over time is not an excuse.

            I don’t think we can argue that Masi’s antics with the rules last year was unacceptable, but incorporating unwritten allowances this year is acceptable. This is a double standard that goes directly against the wording of the regulations.
            Leniency is not the way to achieve compliance – and remember that these rules are for safety, not for entertainment value.
            Cars going unnecessarily slowly has lead to many incidents both in F1 and in other series. It needs to stop.

  2. The first sentence of the article needs correcting

    1. Maybe Keith has a crystal ball?

  3. ‘Let them, well, roll unnecessarily slowly’ crowd incoming in 3, 2, 1 …

  4. Is Perez still under investigation too? And was there any info about the Hamilton-Verstappen encounter, was that noted by the stewards?

    Also what would be the penalty for the three drivers investigated as mentioned here?

    1. @Kotrba Nothing on the latter nor does that even necessitate any action.
      Yes on Perez, although he only had a single yellow, so perhaps he slowed down enough in the end.

  5. Only Leclerc & Tsunoda.

  6. Move along folks.
    Just another part of the “new” F1 soap reality show.
    Bought to you by LibFlix/NetErty, the me, me, me, woke, snowflake, false excitement & drama queen experts!
    Well? They have to cater for the USA short attention span multitude.
    Much more of this & I’ll have to lie down in a darkened room,
    with a damp flannel on my brow after each episode!

    1. Ah yes cos everyone from a country must have a short attention span right?

    2. Thoughtfully applying the rules by examining all the information available? Oh, the humanity!

  7. If Tsunoda feels like the FIA has something against him personally, he might just have a valid reason for it.
    When multiple drivers commit any given offence, he seems to be the only who gets penalised.

    1. When he doesn’t have a justification for his actions, sure he would (and deserves it).

      1. Equally, the others deserve it too.
        With rules: in is in, and out is out. Except in F1, as it has become abundantly clear.

    Every F1 fan should enjoy these onboard of Albert Park in a retro style F5000 series in Australia that is running this weekend in Melbourne Listen to that sound!

  9. Can someone.please clarify the terminiology here? If you drive too slowly, your lap time increases. So why are they discussing a minimum time violation when clearly the problem was driving too slowly? Would this not cause them to exceed a maximum time instead? Thanks in advance.

Comments are closed.