Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2022

Ferrari “frustrated” by rapid penalty call for Leclerc which decided championship

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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Ferrari are frustrated by the FIA’s decision to penalise Charles Leclerc immediately after the Japanese Grand Prix, which confirmed Max Verstappen as world champion.

Leclerc went off-track at the chicane while defending second place from Sergio Perez at the end of the race. He was swiftly penalised five seconds for leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

The penalty dropped Leclerc behind Perez in the final standings. The points he lost as a result of that meant Verstappen clinched the championship.

Ferrari team principal Mattia Binotto said he was “very surprised” and “very disappointed” by the decision and how it was handled. He pointed out the stewards took much longer to issue a penalty to Perez following the previous race in Singapore, and spoke to the drivers before reaching a decision, which they did not do today.

“Seven days after Singapore, while there it took so many laps to decide, and then even after the race we had to hear the drivers to take a simple decision which was straightforward, today they took it in a few seconds,” said Binotto.

“I’m surprised we had such a difference in behaviours between Singapore and here after only a few days.”

The decision to penalise Perez in Singapore should have been taken as quickly as Leclerc’s was today, said Binotto.

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“It’s very frustrating to see such different timing in decisions,” he continued. “In such a situation why are you not listening to the drivers while you were doing it in Singapore? Or vice versa, if you go straight for decisions which are obvious.

“The five seconds penalty of Singapore should have been given immediately, which would have given us opportunity to manage certainly differently the situation and it could have been a potential victory. So it’s frustrating and we are disappointed by that as well.”

Binotto also disputed whether Leclerc gained enough of an advantage to deserve a penalty. “In our a view honestly he didn’t gain any advantage,” he said. “He was ahead, he stayed ahead. He’s got a gap, he kept the same gap. So still arguable but that’s the way they decided which we will accept.”

However the FIA stewards said the decision to penalise Leclerc was consistent with past rulings on drivers.

“Although car 16 [Leclerc] did not gain a position by going off-track, it was still deemed to have gained a lasting advantage.

“This determination takes into account the numerous driver briefings where the race directors advised that an ‘advantage’ would be considered as having been gained if you go off track and return in the same position whilst defending. There have been a number of precedents this year in particular [Zhou] in Saudi Arabia and [Alonso] in Miami.”

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2022 Japanese 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...

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40 comments on “Ferrari “frustrated” by rapid penalty call for Leclerc which decided championship”

  1. The rapid call was good.

    1. Yeah it was.

    2. @jerejj
      The issue is not with the rapid call which is good as you have mentioned. The issue is the first class treatment some teams/drivers do enjoy. The penalty was right, the rapid call was right. Though in Singapore it took them an eternity to decide on Perez who broker the rule twice.

      1. A different rule, of course…. With different consequences.

      2. Not sure analty was right, as Charles didn’t gain anything from the cut (same gap before and after the corner)

        1. Tommy Scragend
          9th October 2022, 13:57

          He gained by keeping his position following a mistake. He outbraked himself and if he’d tried to correct it he would have lost position to Perez. Instead, he chose (by his own admission) just to “go straight on” and by doing so kept the position.

          1. So, you imply that you’re 110% sure LEC would have lost the position. But you have no 110% sure proof. If the gap between them was 4.99 sec, still apply 5sec penalty?! LEC obviously slowed down, he didn’t cut the corner at full speed, otherwise that attempt from PER to overtake 200m before the finish line wouldn’t have existed. I’d agree with this penalty if PER’s front wheels were side by side to LEC’s rear wheels etc.

  2. I was neither surprised by the penalty or the speed in which it was administered.

    It was a pretty obvious penalty and I can think of occasions in the past where a similar thing happening in the final laps has seen a decision made before the podium.

    1. Verstappen was swapped with Kimi in the cooling room in Austin, for example.

  3. It takes more than a day for the stewards to penalise Verstappen when he sees a car parked on the straight. With double yellows clearly being waved in that place. But this time, it takes no time to penalise a guy for a mistake.

    1 question: whas Perez side-by-side with Leclerc? No. Was Leclerc fully in front when he protected his second place? Yes.

    Looks like I should have stopped watching F1 after Abu-Dhabi.

    1. That’s my thinking too. It may look like a penalty… but not quite in this particular case.

    2. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      9th October 2022, 14:09

      Completely agreed. If anything CL lost time which gave Perez the opportunity to attack on the run up to the finish. I don’t see an advantage gained here by definition of overtaking/track position nor by time.

  4. Surprised there was no penalty for Perez as well who was consistently cutting 1st part of last chicane(all 4 wheels outside whiteline).

  5. Again Verstappen wining a second championship under questionable FIA management…..Am not taking anything away from VER, since he was going to win anyway; but today again the stewards come up with their own judgement of the rules…..last Sunday Perez: Ok lets wait til after the race and see how much space between Perez and Leclerc! 7 Seconds? ok 5 seconds penalty and the other one? Oh, yes reprimand. Yesterday with Verstappen….argh, well, reprimand! Was it Tsunoda? Oh no, he would have gotten, drive thru, 10 seconds and points deducted from his license and starting 10 places behind next race. Today, superfast penatly, Leclerc was ahead period, not side by side with Perez, but hallo…..five seconds penalty before getting to the podium! It’s ridiculous!

  6. I’m happy that the penalty could be handed out before the podium ceremony. Like when max cut the track and got past Kimi at COTA years back it’s great to sort it out before they get to the podium imo.

    Max has been on a completely different level and would certainly deserve the WDC for his driving this year. However, I personally wanted the report on the budget cap to be published before the championship was secured, ultimately because I don’t trust the FIA given their previous record, and feel that they could be influenced by the result, regardless of how inevitable the outcome of the championship was going to be

    1. VER got the same penalty – 5seconds, but the difference is huge: VER gained a position, he did it on purpose etc, it’s 110% clear what happened there, nothing to debate. Not the case here tho.

      1. @mg1982 passing off track (like Verstappen did on Kimi in COTA) definitely should get a penalty, but so should keeping a position because a driver has left the track. That was the main reason that Leclerc kept the position. I’m a fan of Leclerc but Perez forced him into a mistake and he only kept the position because he went off track and then blocked Perez. Looked like a clear penalty to me.

  7. Fair and square this year, I’m not a fan but RBR, Honda and Max did a great job.

    1. Fair and square once the budget spend is confirmed. If they were over then nope and same to FIA.
      Max is pure class, a generational talent but I really wish he was driving for anyone but Horner, Marco and Redbull – I’m not a Merc fan, I just really loathe the way Horner and co carry themselves. Say what you want about Toto, Domicelli etc but Horner / Marco really are disgusting

  8. Ferrari strategists decided the championship not hasty penalty points.

    1. Yes they did. Fools with an abacus would have made better decisions than those ex. Maranello this year and as for Merc. Well, send a pallet of tissues and a picture book for LH to explain it all.

  9. Leclerc’s penalty is definitely harsh and arguably incorrect because;
    1) When CL outbraked himself into the chicane SP wasn’t directly contesting the corner (i.e. side-by-side) with CL. At chicane exit SP was closer to CL and with momentum. Where did CL actually gain an advantage at that point.
    2) On the bend on to the start/finish straight CL did reduce the gap between himself to the outside of the edge of the circuit that SP was clearly intending to attempt a pass through before the chequered. Did he leave ‘a cars width’ (or ‘crowded SP out’)? Asphalt was visible all the way around. In addition, given the precedent set in the MV/LH Brazil turn 4 2021 incident, which resulted in ‘no investigation necessary’ that isn’t a penable offence either.
    Where is CL’s penalty justifiable?

    1. Where is CL’s penalty justifiable?

      It gives Honda their party at home.

      And Ferrari moans a bit but they’re too politically weak to protest the results.

  10. Some are frustrated by rapid calls, some by the slow ones. Just drive faster and cleaner.

    1. There wasn’t any dirty racing. Apply the rules fairly and consistently.

      1. what do you mean? he cut the corner!

      2. Cleaner means track limits.

        1. Lecelerc made a mistake which caused him to leave the track whilst clearly ahead of Perez and was under more pressure when he returned to the track. Making a mistake is not dirty racing and in this case he definitely didn’t gain a position (at no point was Perez ahead, even alongside into the corner), I personally don’t understand how Leclerc gained an advantage, which is the book reason for awarding the penalty. He had to rejoin the circuit, which is different to cutting the corner to gain an advantage or a position. Your logic of ‘cleaner means track limits’ suggests that anyone leaving the track, purposefully or by mistake as result of racing as fast as possible should be given a 5 second penalty?

          1. not anyone. would he have kept his position if he hadn’t cut the corner – and instead simply slowed down and made it back towhere he came out of the track from? i don’t think so. why is the penalty unfair in your opinion?

  11. Cleaner means track limits.

  12. And in Silverstone Perez did similar, no penalty.
    It is a absolute farce.

  13. Penalty was correct, Leclerc doing that 2 corners from the finish line sums up his season… disappointing

  14. “the race directors advised that an ‘advantage’ would be considered as having been gained if you go off track and return in the same position whilst defending.”

    Leclerc was not defending. He was ahead. Pérez wasn’t even close to making a move, as much as he might like to pretend otherwise.

    Citing Miami as an example, where a motorsport legend like Alonso slammed the stewards for ‘incompetence’, is not exactly helping their case.

    1. Leclerc was not defending. He was ahead.

      Defenders usually are in motorsport….

      As has been the case since this rule’s inception – ‘gaining an advantage’ is usually analogous to ‘not losing an advantage.’
      Leclerc didn’t gain position, or even time, but he failed to lose what he may have done so had he returned to the track at the place he left it, or even if there were a gravel trap, or a wall….

      Typically, he would have been offered the chance to redress the ‘lack of loss’ or face the potential of a penalty anyway.

      1. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
        9th October 2022, 15:46

        huh? No logic in what you said. If he didn’t gain an advantage via position or time (he’s allowed to lose either) there is no penalty. Leclerc gained nothing as Perez was not even close to being along side and Perez was much closer to him and challenging Leclerc (which means he lost time) on the run up to the finish. If we go by the logic of what he “may” have lost if had to go through a gravel trap or immovable objects like walls ( which has “zero” barring on “gaining a lasting advantage”) then any driver who makes a mistake and cuts a chicane should be penalized regardless of how much time they lose or position’s lost.

        1. He is saying…. that had there been a wall or soft other trap there he would have lost the position. You are defending if you got a car right behind you who can take advantage of any mistakes. It was pretty clear he lost position unless you didn’t notice perez was passing him before he cut across to block him.

          Your problem is you think an advantage is something you gain only from being behind.

        2. If he didn’t gain an advantage via position or time (he’s allowed to lose either) there is no penalty.

          But there was, because he left the track.
          You may not like or agree with those rules, but that’s exactly what they are and have been for quite a long time.
          Back to my example – if there had been a wall there, Leclerc would have been out of the race. Gravel would have almost certainly cost him more than 5 seconds too.
          This is what the track limits debates have been about for the last few years – you leave the track, you get a penalty.

          If we go by the logic of what he “may” have lost if had to go through a gravel trap or immovable objects like walls ( which has “zero” barring on “gaining a lasting advantage”) then any driver who makes a mistake and cuts a chicane should be penalized regardless of how much time they lose or position’s lost.

          That is sensible, yes. They left the track….

  15. Ferrari is an embarrassment from top to bottom! This team needs to be rebuilt at all levels and positions. No direction, no leadership, no strategy and 2 lack luster drivers. The time of ‘be patient’ is over. Bring out the axe. Step outside of the norm for once Ferrari. Stop trying to use conspiracies, penalties, non-penalties to win races. You are no longer a team to be feared. You’re the joke of F1. If you exit F1 no one but the simple minded, like you, will miss you!

    I know I’ll catch heat for this post but people have a right to share their thoughts right?

  16. They really can’t do it right, can they?
    I have no problem with the penalty, because in my opinion mistakes should be punished. But it’s also important to be consistent and clear when you hand out penalties. And here the problems begin? What are the precedents?
    I can’t recall any, really any, penalty for a drive who just cut a chicane and stayed ahead. Leclerc didn’t defend, he just outbreaked himself.
    He could have been penalized for rejoining in an unsafe manner though. That would be in line with the infamous Vettel – Hamilton incident or the one with Verstappen – Raikkonen back here in 2018.
    But the rules were a) softened to reduce the amount of penalties and b) I think there was always a cars width of track on his left.
    Hamilton didn’t get a punishment for the exact same reason against Ricciardo in Monaco 2016.
    So from taking ages to judge a black and white situation they rushed too quickly into making a decision after an incident that has room for interpretation…

  17. With SO MANY questionable decisions and rule book interpretations by the FIA ( Ver / Ham
    at Silverstone,, Ver / Ham at Abu Dhabi and now the Per / Le Cl issue, It might be a good idea
    for the FIA to enter a team and place some of the officials behind the wheel to gain a real understanding
    of racing conditions. They seem to act wit impunity and stick to the rule of ,,, Rule No 1….
    “The Boss is always right”. Rule No 2… “If he is wrong” ,, refer to rule No 1.
    Verstappen had his one hand on the trophy for a while, just a pity that we have another controversial
    decision shrouding a brilliant driver’s career for the second time.
    better luck next year MAX !!!!

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