Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Suzuka, 2022

Leclerc accepts penalty which ended his championship hopes was “correct”

2022 Japanese Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc does not disagree with his Japanese Grand Prix penalty, which ended his chances of winning the world championship.

After crossing the line in second place ahead of Sergio Perez, Leclerc was demoted to third place behind his rival by a five-second time penalty. The stewards ruled he gained an advantage by going off the track at the chicane on the final lap while trying to out-run the Red Bull.

Leclerc admitted he wasn’t aware at the time that he was on the last lap of the race. “I did a mistake and tried to minimise it obviously by trying to go straight,” he explained. “I was not aware this was the last lap but a five seconds penalty was the right thing to do to be honest.”

The penalty had a decisive impact on the world championship. The points Leclerc lost meant Max Verstappen’s lead became unassailable, and he therefore clinched the title.

Leclerc made a strong start to the race originally, drawing ahead of Verstappen on the run to turn one, but then fell behind his rival. The race was red-flagged soon afterwards and did not resume until two hours later.

When it did, Leclerc pursued Verstappen briefly then fell back into Perez’s clutches. “We were very fast for four or five laps, but unfortunately the race was a bit longer than that,” he explained. “The fronts were just gone after four or five laps and after that it was all about trying to survive until the end of the race.

“The end of the race was extremely difficult. Obviously Checo was putting quite a bit of pressure behind and I was really struggling with both of my front tyres. So at the end, I ended up making a mistake, but we were really, really struggling today.”

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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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24 comments on “Leclerc accepts penalty which ended his championship hopes was “correct””

  1. Good lad! 👍

    1. Yeah it was a 5 second penalty all day long. He left the track and kept position. Good on him for just saying it for how it is, a few others would have grumbled about it.

      1. Not really this time in my opinion. You say he “kept position”, therefore you turn LEC into a loser before even really analyzing the situation. Before that ”moment”, we have TV and on-board video proof from PER’s car that LEC was ahead of PER and PER wasn’t even trying to overtake him. There’s no proof (at the moment) he did it on purpose either. In Singapore VER went off-track obviously on purpose (maybe even saving his car from contact with some other car)… but not because he was forced tho, and he gained a lasting advantage too. Not even investigated. In 2017 US GP, VER passed RAI by going all 4 wheels beyond the white line. That was indeeeed a lasting advantage. He got a 5sec penalty. Something is not right, no doubt.

        1. +1. I’ve been commenting along these lines on other threads. It seems a harsh and inconsistently applied penalty. I think Charles is doing himself a disservice.

        2. Nothing is investigated on the first lap.

  2. The penalty had a decisive impact on the world championship.

    not really, it had a impact on the moment of reaching the WDC position.
    Small but interesting nuance.

    1. At best one can say that the penlty wil have a weigh on the WDC runner up battle.
      Verstappen as 2022 Champion was a know quantity basically since France and certainly after Dutch GP.

  3. This is not a fight worth having at this point, but Ferrari is never going to win if they don’t up their political game.

    It’s a bogus penalty. Leclerc didn’t have to say that, but it sets a bad precedent to even endorse it.

    1. Kinda agree with you there. They have been saying a lot they are a young team and young teams need to learn. Except they are Ferrari fighting in F1

    2. Hiland (@flyingferrarim)
      9th October 2022, 14:17

      Agreed. I just have the feeling that CL is kind of over with this season. He looks defeated and just does not care at this point (just an assumption based on his body language). It has been a tough one for him especially with such a strong start.

    3. That is called sportmanship. Leclerc is a great personality because he never makes excuses or politics. Something other people can learn from.

    4. No, please do not let them up their political game and become like Mercedes

  4. BLS (@brightlampshade)
    9th October 2022, 12:20

    Do get that feeling this weekend that Ferrari are very much looking to pick their fights. I suspect things will get far louder this coming week.

  5. I was surprised that the Ferrari pace dropped off so much after the restart. Max was able to pull away really easily. It’s odd that the car destroyed its tyres so quickly.

    I felt a bit sorry for Charles but the penalty really only brought forward the inevitable. I hope he gets some better luck or conditions in the remaining races. Finishing ahead of Checo in the championship would I feel his true performance level this year.

    1. For those who think it should not be a penalty: imagine a gravel trap beyond the breaking zone where Leclerc drove… He would have lost position and Perez would have been 2nd. Therefore him running over the asfalt cutting the corner is giving him an advantage.

      And then there is the matter of the pushing Perez off the track to defend. That could have also been a penalty on its own…

      So take the penalty and accept defeat. The Ferrari just ate it’s tyres a bit too much to be 2nd.

      1. But there is no gravel, and plenty of other chicanes see plenty of cutting where it result in instant penalties because the drivers are always given some leeway and are warned not to do it more than once or twice. Never mind all the other breaking of the regulations that goes investigated or penalized (earlier on the field spread at the initial start was one of the worst of the season, which is explicitly not allowed).

        The stewards dreamed up a story about Leclerc defending his position from Pérez, who was so far behind at that point that he never even attempted to challenge the entry, but that doesn’t make it true. The penalty conveniently allowed Honda to have their championship party at their own circuit, and Ferrari doesn’t care to complain because they messed up their season long ago. That might be a political mistake for the future on their part, but for F1 and the FIA, enticing Honda back into F1 for 2026 is much more important than a few days of moaning about a bogus penalty.

        1. I agree. This is probably true. The stewards made a very, very quick decision by their usual standards.

        2. Penalty was a given. But quick penalty was important for the show.

      2. And then there is the matter of the pushing Perez off the track to defend. That could have also been a penalty on its own…

        Leaving the track was a penalty – end of.

        Perez claiming Leclerc tried to push him off the track, probably ought to be a penalty, but there are no rules regarding unsporting behaviour like telling porkies to get the stewards to rule on an alleged penalty situation.

        Shame the race ended a lap early.

  6. Look at Seb v Hamilton in Canada- Seb goes off and prevents Ham overtaking by forcing g him to back out – exact same situation today.

    I think if he had left Perez space and they had a drag race to the finish line – no penalt. It is the fact he prevented Perez taking g advantage of his mistake that (probably) cost him.

    1. Today’s was a much clearer penalty than Canada ’19. In Canada Hamilton only ended up squeezed against the wall because he tried to drive into a disappearing gap – here Perez was more or less taking the normal racing line and had to take avoiding action because Leclerc was veering across the track. Given that Vettel got a penalty in Canada, it was inevitable Leclerc would get one today.

  7. Really surprised some people have a problem with this penalty. He went straight through the chicane and then deliberately blocked Perez after rejoining. Very similar to Hamilton and Vettel in Canada. However you like the outcome, a driver shouldn’t be able to keep their position like this and I think everyone knows this at heart.

  8. Hamilton cut the chicane last year in the final race yet did not give up the position or receive a penalty. To be fair they more than messed him up later in that race though.

    1. Some might say he got the penalty he deserved for gaining an advantage off track – just a bit late.

      There was little doubt at the time that Hamilton should have given up his position.

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