Charles Leclerc Monaco curse continues with grid drop for blocking Lando Norris

Henry Valantine
Charles Leclerc after qualifying. Monaco May 2023.

Charles Leclerc waves at the home crowd after qualifying. Monaco May 2023.

Charles Leclerc has been hit with a three-place grid penalty for impeding Lando Norris during Monaco Grand Prix qualifying.

Leclerc had been on a slow lap during Q3 while he wound up for a flying run during qualifying in what was a thrilling session at his home circuit, but McLaren driver Norris approached the Ferrari at a rate of knots in the tunnel and was forced to back out of the throttle.

The FIA confirmed the incident would be looked at after the session finished, with Leclerc having qualified third on the day and Norris taking 10th place.

Norris had recovered from damaging his McLaren in Q2, making it back to the pit lane before his mechanics fixed his MCL60 in double quick time to get him back out in time to compete in Q3, with Leclerc almost putting himself on pole for a third year in a row at Monaco.

However, both Leclerc and Norris were summoned to meet with the stewards at 18:00 local time in Monaco [17:00 UK], and the result was a three-place grid penalty for Leclerc. He really cannot catch a break on home soil! recommends

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The verdict read: “The stewards heard from the driver of Car ​16 (Charles Leclerc), the driver of Car ​4 (Lando Norris), team representatives and reviewed positioning/marshalling system
data, video, timing data, team radio and in-car video evidence.

“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.

“Both drivers agreed that there was little that Leclerc could have safely done in the tunnel to avoid impeding Norris, given the difficulty in vision due to the light entering and 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 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.

“Thus, the stewards consider that the impeding was unnecessary.

“The stewards reviewed all the preceding unnecessarily impeding penalties in the past few years. In every case, the actions, or inaction of the team did not mitigate the unnecessary impeding. Thus the Stewards impose the usual penalty of a three grid drop.”

This then promotes Alpine’s Esteban Ocon to the head of the second row, where he will be joined by Leclerc’s team-mate Carlos Sainz.