Monday, March 4, 2024

Leclerc Handed Three Place Grid Penalty for Austrian Sprint

Ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix Sprint, Charles Leclerc has received a three-place grid penalty, meaning he will start ninth on the grid.

Following the morning’s Sprint Shootout, the Ferrari driver was called by the FIA race stewards due to an alleged incident where he impeded McLaren F1 Team’s Oscar Piastri. After conducting a hearing, the stewards concluded that Leclerc was at fault, resulting in a three-place drop on the grid for the Monégasque driver. Consequently, Leclerc’s starting position shifted from sixth to ninth for the Sprint race.

Similar penalties were given a few weeks ago in the Canadian Grand Prix, with multiple drivers being given penalties for impeding and it appears the FIA have kept the same standards for the Austrian Grand Prix by handing Leclerc a penalty.

The stewards’ report on Leclerc’s penalty read: “The driver of Car 81 [Piastri] stated that as he approached Turn 9 he saw that Car 16 was travelling slowly and had to brake, reducing his speed by approximately 45 km/h over the previous push lap.

“This was verified by the Stewards referencing the telemetry of Car 81.

“It was confirmed Car 81 lost approximately 0.5 of a second in that minisector (5.3s v 4.8s). The driver of Car 16 stated that the last call he had from his team was when he was approaching Turn 4 (“Piastri 6 seconds”) and that he saw Car 81 in his mirrors as he was in Turn 8 and Car 81 was in Turn 7.

“The Team Representative of Car 16 stated that the team “could have done better” in communicating the rapid approach of Car 81 and its drivers stated that “If I had been warned I could have done something earlier”.

“Accordingly we determine that although this was not entirely the fault of the driver, and that the team’s lack of communication was the major contributing factor, a grid position penalty must be imposed as Car 81 was “unnecessarily impeded”, because there is no doubt that the situation could have been avoided.”

The Sprint Race gets underway at 16:30 local time, with Max Verstappen starting alongside Sergio Pérez on the front row.