MONACO: In a dramatic turn of events during the Monaco Grand Prix qualifying, Charles Leclerc has been handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding McLaren driver Lando Norris during the latter’s flying lap.
The incident unfolded at Leclerc’s home circuit, adding to the disappointment of the Ferrari driver. Leclerc had been on a slower lap to prepare for a fast run when Norris rapidly approached him in the tunnel, forcing Norris to back off significantly.
Following the conclusion of the session, the incident was reviewed by the FIA. Ultimately, Leclerc qualified third, while Norris secured the 10th spot on the grid.
Earlier in Q2, Norris encountered a setback when he damaged his McLaren. However, his mechanics swiftly repaired the MCL60, allowing him to rejoin the session for Q3.
Meanwhile, Leclerc, who had been on the verge of securing pole position for the third consecutive year in Monaco, was summoned to meet with the stewards alongside Norris.
After careful consideration of various sources of evidence, including positioning/marshalling system data, video footage, timing data, team radio, and in-car video evidence, the stewards reached a verdict.
Leclerc was handed a three-place grid penalty, leaving him disappointed on his home soil.
The stewards acknowledged Leclerc’s sensible response to the blue flag displayed by the marshals but concluded that the impeding could have been avoided if Leclerc’s team had provided a timely warning about Norris’ approach.
They noted that the pre-incident discussion between Leclerc and his team focused solely on competing drivers, neglecting the traffic behind them, which is a crucial consideration on Monaco’s challenging track.
The stewards referenced previous cases of unnecessary impeding and emphasized that a driver’s team’s actions or inaction cannot justify or mitigate such incidents.
Consequently, Leclerc received the standard penalty of a three-place grid drop.
Following the application of the penalty, Esteban Ocon from Alpine will move up to the front of the second row, joining Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz.
The penalty deals a significant blow to Leclerc, who had hoped for a triumphant performance in front of his home crowd.
Despite this setback, racing fans eagerly await the Monaco Grand Prix, where unexpected twists and turns are always in store.