‘Erratic’ Leclerc and Stroll escape grid penalties for causing Norris/Hamilton collisions

Thomas Maher
Charles Leclerc, Ferrari, 2024 Spanish Grand Prix.

Charles Leclerc running the new floor in Spain

Separate incidents involving Lance Stroll and Lewis Hamilton, as well as Charles Leclerc and Lando Norris, got the FIA steward’s attention in Spain.

Two separate ‘road rage’ incidents were deemed worthy of further attention by the stewards at the Spanish Grand Prix, which could have had implications on potential grid penalties ahead of qualifying.

Lance Stroll and Lewis Hamilton summoned

Hamilton had been driving slowly around the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, unaware that Lance Stroll was catching him quickly as the pair approached Turn 5.

Realising the presence of the Aston Martin, Hamilton moved out wide to give space to Stroll – a little too late to avoid holding up the Canadian.

But an unhappy Stroll opened up his steering wheel in order to crowd out the Mercedes driver, resulting in light contact between the two cars that ended up in some carbon fibre being flicked off the Aston Martin.

The pair have been summoned before the stewards on the grounds on an alleged breach of Article 33.4 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations – Incident between Cars 18 and 44 at 13:18.

The sporting regulations define this rule as “At no time may a car be driven unnecessarily slowly, erratically or in a manner which could be deemed potentially dangerous to other drivers or any other person.”

Stroll took to team radio to say: “This f**king guy thinks he’s alone on the track,” while an apologetic Hamilton radioed in to say he hadn’t seen Stroll.

Speaking to Sky F1 after the session, Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff addressed the incident.

“I kind of understand in the heat of the moment, sometimes you’re on your fastest lap and you’re being blocked,” he said.

“But it’s never the driver’s fault. He’s getting the instructions from the garage and all the traffic situation.

“Nobody does this on purpose because you know you can have a penalty. So I guess, on this one, maybe the penalty goes the other way around.”

After the stewards met with the drivers, the ruling was made – Stroll was given a reprimand for the incident with the stewards explaining in their verdict the reasoning why.

“The driver of Car 18 [Stroll] stated that he got impeded by Car 44 [Hamilton] into Turn 5 and that upset him,” said the stewards.

“He admitted that he wanted to express his displeasure to the other driver by pulling over on him at the exit. Both cars made slight contact which was incidental.

“However, the Stewards consider the move made by Car 18, whilst not being dangerous, to be erratic and therefore issue a driving reprimand in line with precedents.”

It is Stroll’s first reprimand of the season.

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Charles Leclerc picks up summons for Lando Norris incident

Moments after the Stroll incident, Charles Leclerc was involved in a more egregious incident with Lando Norris as the Ferrari driver encountered the McLaren on the approach to Turn 7.

Annoyed to have been held up by the McLaren, Leclerc appeared to move over on Norris as he drew ahead of him before also hitting the brakes.

The incident resulted in heftier contact between the two, with Norris reporting damage as a result of the contact. Leclerc could be heard on team radio calling his rival a “f**ker” before accelerating away.

The stewards have also summoned Leclerc on the same grounds as the Norris/Hamilton incident.

Following their investigation, the stewards issued a similar punishment to Leclerc.

“The driver of Car 16 [Leclerc] stated that he got impeded by Car 4 [Norris] into Turn 5 and that upset him,” read their verdict.

“He then had to abort his flying lap and contended that, while trying to get off the racing line before Turn 7, he misjudged the position of his car and made slight contact with Car 4.

“Irrespective of any possible intent, the Stewards consider the move made by Car 16, whilst not being dangerous, to be erratic and therefore issue a driving reprimand in line with precedents.”

Discussing it on Sky F1 afterward, 1996 F1 World Champion Damon Hill acknowledged the possibility of the drivers being more tense this weekend as Red Bull’s competitive edge doesn’t appear as sharp as usual, but said: “Why would you want to drive into someone to vent your anger? It’s just not professional. I don’t understand what’s going on.”

Former US racer Danica Patrick said she suspected Leclerc had a reason for responding to Norris as angrily as he did.

“What you don’t know is what happened before that,” she said.

“Usually, when a driver gets angry, it’s not necessarily going to be caught in that very moment but what happened on the previous corner, the previous lap, maybe he felt like he was blocked in the corner before and so he was making a point about it.

“But I’m sure there was some reason for it. Road rage comes from anger, I’m betting he was in the way.”

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