Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, 2023

Leclerc avoids penalty over loose front wing endplate after Perez contact

Formula 1

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The Mexican Grand Prix stewards have cleared Ferrari of leaving Charles Leclerc’s car in an unsafe condition when his front wing was damaged in a collision with Sergio Perez.

The Ferrari driver suffered damage to his left-hand endplate in the turn one collision which put the Red Bull driver out of the race.

Leclerc’s endplate was flailing loose for several minutes before falling off the car at the same corner at the start of the fourth lap.

After a Virtual Safety Car was deployed in order to clear the debris from Leclerc’s car, the Ferrari driver was placed under investigation by the stewards for his car having been in a potentially unsafe condition while driving with his loose endplate.

However, after consulting with Ferrari, Leclerc and the FIA, the stewards took no further action against the third-placed finisher over the incident.

“The team representative explained that after contact between car 16 [Leclerc] and car 11 [Perez] in turn one, lap one, it had monitored the situation and was of the view that the structure of the wing assembly was sound and that it did not expect the endplate to detach,” the stewards explained.

“[Ferrari] tried to check the situation from live TV but was unable to find suitable video. However, on lap three it noted a serious deterioration in the data and was about to take action when the endplate detached.”

After a spate on incidents last season where Haas were shown the black-and-orange mechanical warning flag – which compels any competitor shown it to pit for repairs immediately – the stewards cited an agreement between the FIA and the ten F1 teams about when black-and-orange flags can and should be shown.

“The FIA representatives explained that from October 2022 it was standard procedure agreed by the teams and the FIA, confirmed in January 2023, that the detachment of an end plate and the location of its final landing place, was not to be deemed as ‘unsafe’,” the stewards explained. “This was confirmed to the stewards’ satisfaction by the sighting of an email dated October 22 2022 and minutes of the SAC meeting of January 2023.

“Accordingly the detachment of the endplate is not deemed to cause the car to be ‘unsafe’ and therefore no further action is warranted.”

The decision leaves Leclerc’s third place finishing position intact. Just one round prior at the United Sates Grand Prix, Leclerc was disqualified after finishing sixth due to suffering excessive wear on his car’s plank.

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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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8 comments on “Leclerc avoids penalty over loose front wing endplate after Perez contact”

  1. It would have been rather absurd to penalise him AFTER the race. Had they signalled the team to come in immediately, that would have made sense, but letting it all happen until that endplate flew off and caused the VSC (I think they actually should have called him in, since it evidently later caused a dangerous situation) and then announcing they’ll look into it after the race? That is just nonsense.

    The fact that they have even clearly agreed with the teams that a loose endplate shouldn’t be a reason to be deemed dangerous makes it even more absurd that they then investigated.

    1. If you compair with how fast they showed Haas the meatball flag they should have given Charles the Flag afterthe accident when you saw the element sticking out which is dangerous for other cars tyres.

    2. This has long been a case of ignore the big teams, bring in the small teams.

      It’s unfortunate that Haas bungled their protest last year against the result of the US GP, because their overarching point was spot on.

  2. So if they deemed the location of the bit that fell off as not in an unsafe area why was the race needed to be neutralised with a virtual safety car needed to pick it up?

    The fact they had to move it means it was in a dangerous place

    1. It makes more sense if one starts with the conclusion, like the FIA-picked stewards do.

      It probably went something like this, strike out as necessary: No penalty for Leclerc, because (the loose bit fell off on its own/they fixed it at the first stop) and (it didn’t end up in an unsafe area/was not conclusively shown to be that loose).

      In addition to them being reluctant to bring cars in for damage (unless it’s a backmarker), they probably felt a bit sorry for Leclerc getting rammed by a desperate Pérez in his, increasingly likely, final home race.

  3. and was about to take action when

    That looks like a Ferrari strategy secret they leaked…

  4. Michael (@freelittlebirds)
    30th October 2023, 14:18

    Poor Leclerc – the Sky commentators were pointing out how he’s won so many pole positions but something always happens and he can’t win the race.

    Even Sainz has done better in that regard with a 50% conversion rate from poles to wins (2 poles – 1 win) while Leclerc has 0% (3 poles, no wins) in the most one-sided F1 season.

  5. With hindsight, I think it could be handled much better. The onus should have been on Ferrari to recognise that they had a loose piece of significant size that could break away and cause damage or injury to a following car and driver. It shouldn’t need the stewards to wave a flag first. I’m feeling now that if it gets to the stage where the stewards have to wave the flag to force a team to pit to fix obvious damage then it should also come with a ten or twenty second stop penalty when the car reaches the pits. And if a team could have pitted to fix a problem, but ignored it to the point where it brought out a safety car, as Ferrari did yesterday, perhaps the penalty should be even more severe. Yes, it would have been hard on LeClerc, for something that wasn’t his fault, but that’s the nature of racing.

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