Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Spa-Francorchamps, 2022

Leclerc says post-race penalty is ‘my fault, nothing to do with the team’

2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc took responsibility for the five-second time penalty which dropped him from fifth place to sixth at the end of the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver was penalised for speeding in the pit lane when he came in at the end of the race to fit a fresh set of tyres. This was done in order to give him a chance of taking the bonus point for the fastest lap of the race.

Leclerc resisted the call initially, telling his team: “I will not risk it this time. But [it’s] up to you if you really want to try it, but I would not risk it.”

Ferrari called him in, but Leclerc broke the pit lane speed limit by 1kph when he pitted. Despite that, he also rejoined so close to Fernando Alonso that he was immediately passed by the Alpine driver, despite being told he should be a second ahead of him when he rejoined before pitting. Leclerc took the place back, but was unable to set the fastest lap, and then lost the position to Alonso when he was penalised.

However, Leclerc accepted responsibility for the speeding penalty. “No, the penalty is my fault,” he said. “So nothing to do with the team.”

“We spoke about it during the race,” he added. “You heard about the call and in the end we decided to stop. So it’s like this.”

Leclerc lost ground early in the race when he had to pit in order for a visor tear-off to be removed from a brake duct. “This put us quite a bit on the back foot and we’ve paid the price by quite a bit, but it’s like this,” he said.

Ferrari’s tactical decisions have faced criticism at times during 2022. Several radio messages of their discussions over Leclerc’s strategy were broadcast during the race, some of which appeared to go into more detail than usual about their tyre preferences.

However Leclerc said the team had followed their normal procedures and not risked disclosing too much information to rivals. “I think we’ve always done that,” he said. “This time we were a bit clearer because we were in a bit in no man’s land and nobody was fighting with us. So we had more freedom to speak about it.”

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2022 Belgian Grand Prix

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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19 comments on “Leclerc says post-race penalty is ‘my fault, nothing to do with the team’”

  1. In hindsight, he should’ve just stayed out to avoid all possible risks.

    1. It’s a bit odd. When they’re actually competitive Ferrari claims not to be fighting for the title, but when they’re barely hanging on for 2nd in the WCC they suddenly start racing as if they were cleverly taking points off Verstappen in a championship fight.

      1. That actually sums Ferrari’s behaviour up very nicely.

      2. I think they should be more concerned about losing 2nd in the constructor’s to Merc than beating VER to the driver’s title.

    2. Yup. His initial response was correct. There just was not enough of a gap to Alonso, and it was a risk that was unlikely to work anyway, given the speed Max had had.

  2. I’m still rooting for Leclerc and that’s why it’s hard to watch his farcical communication with the team. He needs to be more assertive, but he also needs a team who know what they’re doing. Currently, both these things are absent.

    1. I actually felt they tried communicating clearer, listening more to their driver for a while (yeah, some people mentioned that was awkward to hear, but I liked it) @pironitheprovocateur, I think that was a reaction to having so often gotten it wrong so far this year while not listening to feedback.

      This was another occasion where they should have followed their drivers feeling. Quite amazing how often they can get things wrong. And really solid of Leclerc to put up his hand about the speeding (while it actually might have been down to the limiter not being as accurate due to a sensor having failed from overheating early in the race)

    2. He does not need to be more assertive. Teams has the tools to make good calls. Problem Leclerc has is that he is doubting the team and also trying to make up for the teams mistakes which causes himself to make mistakes as he is trying to do his job under the pressure of having also to make up for ferraris mistakes.

    3. He needs to stop apologising now. The team blamed a sensor fault, so unless they’re making that up too?

  3. Leclerc is in competition with his team for the most mistakes throphy..

  4. The speeding penalty is on him, but the decision to pit was too risky given the circumstances. Even with a normal pitstop they lost track position to Alonso on the penultimate lap, which was likely going to at least cause a disruption to his fastest lap attempt. There was also the risk of a slow stop due to a sticking wheel nut or whatever else which also would have cost them the same position. Ferrari’s risk/reward calculation seems to always be off.

    1. There was also verstappen’s insane speed, I wouldn’t have trusted to be able to beat his lap times with a significantly slower car on new tyres.

  5. If Charles continues to defend Ferrari at all cost he will end up the same way as Vettel did – the scapegoat to be blamed for any kind of Ferrari incompetence, strategy, car failures, lack of proper car development. Only a few driver errors are missing.

  6. At this point i’m not even mad anymore. It’s actually just impressive how Ferrari can always find aways to screw something up and lose out on points

    1. Exactly, if they are trailing the leader by 80-100 points, it doesn’t really matter if they gain one extra point or lose two.

  7. Just think, LEC came out behind even though he sped through pits and had a good pit stop. He was never going to get fastest lap coming out behind anyone on track. Who is doing math at Ferrari? Are they using metric seconds or something? Every week Ferrari chooses Plan F and the F isn’t Ferrari.

  8. The penalty was his fault. He’s the only one who can control the speed of the car in the pit lane.

    However, it wasn’t smart of Ferrari to pit him. He was marginal on getting out ahead of Alonso. There was a large risk of losing 2 (or more) points for a small chance of gaining 1.

    It’s actually reasonable for Ferrari, though. It was a mistake, a bad gamble, but compared to their other recent mistakes it was fairly minor…

    1. There are a couple of components to put lane speeding, and they have different responsibilities:
      1. Brake enough before the line, engage pit limiter at line, disengage pit limiter at exit line. These are driver responsibility.
      2. Calibrate pit limiter against speed data. This is team responsibility.

      If the driver does everything in point 1 and is still too fast, then it is down to a fail in point 2 and vice versa.

      Binotto has said that the normal sensor they rely on was damaged by the overheating brake duct, and that their backup sensor was not as reliable, so the clear implication is that LeClerc was too fast because the pit limited calibration was off (by about 1km/h).

  9. So emblematic of this season: Ferrari making TERRIBLE decisions and Leclerc throwing in the occasional error to top it all off…

    Man, it’s hard being a Ferrari fan!

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