Charles Leclerc has been sanctioned for impeding Lando Norris in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, ceding third place on the grid to Alpine’s Esteban Ocon.
Leclerc will drop from third to sixth thanks to a three-place grid penalty, with team-mate Carlos Sainz and Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton also promoted at the local hero’s expense.
The stewards’ verdict effectively absolved Leclerc of blame – but said it was his Ferrari team’s communication that created the “unnecessary impeding” and stressed that in “every” past precedent “the inaction of the team did not mitigate” the penalty.
Did Charles Leclerc impede Lando Norris? 👀
The stewards are looking at this incident from Q3 ⤵ pic.twitter.com/64p3vRx6JW
— Sky Sports F1 (@SkySportsF1) May 27, 2023
“Leclerc had finished his final lap of Q3 and was in the Turn 4-through-Turn 10 complex. Norris was on a fast lap and caught Leclerc in the middle of the tunnel and was clearly impeded,” read the verdict of the incident taking place in Q3.
“Both drivers agreed that there was little that Leclerc could’ve safely done in the tunnel to avoid impeding Norris, given the difficulty in vision due to the [lack of] light in the tunnel and the change of lines from one side of the tunnel to the other. In fact, the stewards observed that Leclerc reacted in a sensible way to a blue flag displayed by the marshals, but at this point it was too late.
“However, the stewards reviewed team radio, and Leclerc’s team failed to give him any warning about Norris’ approach until Norris was already directly behind him. Further, the discussion during the preceding portion of the track was entirely about competing drivers, not the traffic behind, which is at a critical task at this track.
“The stewards believe that there is much that Leclerc could have done prior to the tunnel to avoid the impeding had he received warning from the team at an appropriate time, especially considering that Norris’ approach was clear on the marshalling system.”