Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Red Bull Ring, 2023

Leclerc takes grid drop as Ferrari incur third impeding penalty in four rounds

2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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Charles Leclerc has been demoted three grid places for today’s sprint race after he impeded Oscar Piastri in sprint race qualifying.

Leclerc qualified in sixth position for this afternoon’s sprint race behind Ferrari team mate Carlos Sainz Jnr. However, he was investigated by the stewards for allegedly impeding Oscar Piastri during the opening phase of the sprint qualifying session.

With just under five minutes remaining in SQ1, Leclerc had just finished a push lap to put him in seventh place. Leclerc informed the team he wanted to pit at the end of that lap and was informed that Piastri, who was pushing, was six seconds behind him.

Approaching the pit entry at the penultimate corner, Leclerc was warned by race engineer Xavier Marcos Padros to “watch for traffic with Piastri, he is pushing.” Leclerc appeared to try to keep out of the McLaren’s way by running over the inside kerb, later complaining that the entry to the pitlane was still damp from the earlier rain.

Piastri had to back off to avoid hitting the Ferrari. While he completed the lap and improved on his personal best time in the session up to that point, Piastri did not set a personal best third sector on the lap he came across the Ferrari at the penultimate corner.

“I got massively impeded by the Ferrari,” Piastri told his team on the radio after completing his lap.

After investigating the incident, the stewards agreed with the McLaren rookie, determining that the Ferrari driver had impeded Piastri to the tune of half a second and thus handed him a three place grid penalty.

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In the stewards hearing, Ferrari admitted that they “could have done better” in warning Leclerc about Piastri behind, with Leclerc starting that “if I had been warned I could have done something earlier.”

The stewards accepted that Leclerc had not been entirely at fault for the incident and that Ferrari’s “lack of communication was the major contributing factor”. However, they determined that a penalty “must be imposed” for the incident.

The decision drops Leclerc from sixth to ninth on the grid. Both Aston Martins of Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll and the Alpine of Esteban Ocon will each gain a place on the grid as a result.

This is the third time in four race weekends Ferrari have been given a grid penalty for impeding. Leclerc was penalised for impeding Piastri’s team mate Lando Norris in Monaco, and Sainz had the same penalty for getting in Pierre Gasly’s way two weeks ago in Canada.

Updated: 2023 Austrian Grand Prix sprint race grid

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2023 Austrian Grand Prix

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Author information

Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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6 comments on “Leclerc takes grid drop as Ferrari incur third impeding penalty in four rounds”

  1. Unsurprising

  2. How is Xavi still Leclerc’s race engineer I don’t understand. Those 2 clearly don’t get along.

    IMO, Leclerc needs a stricter race engineer. One who can give clear instructions and also take decisions for him. Someone similar to GP or Gasly’s race engineer at Toro Rosso.

    1. At this point he is doing more damage to Leclerc than his rivals. He is not adapted to the job of race engineer, the sooner he is put out to grass the better.

  3. Leclerc’s first demand for a new contract should really be ‘fire Xavi’. Too many times Leclerc gets screwed by his engineer relaying info too late and if I were Leclerc, I’d have zero confidence in Xavi to do the correct call while driving the car right now.

    1. Absolutely agree.

  4. Dude at this point I fee like I could do better than Xavi and I’m an idiot sandwich.

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