FIA explains why Leclerc escaped penalty

Date published: September 9 2019

Charles Leclerc knew "where we were weak" say Mercedes' strategy director James Vowles.

FIA race director Michael Masi has revealed the reasoning behind their decision not to punish Charles Leclerc for his questionable driving at the Italian Grand Prix.

Leclerc ended Ferrari’s drought at their home race at Monza as he led from start to finish to secure his second grand prix win in as many race weekends.

His defensive moves against Lewis Hamilton, which saw him squeeze the Mercedes driver off track at one point, raised a few eyebrows, especially after race stewards decided not to give him a penalty.

Instead he received a black-and-white flag for bad sportsmanship – the equivalent of a yellow card in football – and Masi gave a little bit more insight into their thinking.

“I think there’s two parts to that,” he explained via Crash.net.

“One, there was contact last year with Max [Verstappen], so that’s one part of it.

“The second part of it is that we need to remember a couple of points; the discussion with the drivers in Bahrain about let them race, the subsequent discussions that have been ongoing with team principals, drivers, sporting directors, then you look at it particularly in the context of Spa, where we said we are going to reintroduce the use of the bad sportsmanship flag.

“[Pierre] Gasly, for a very similar incident in Spa received the bad sportsmanship flag, so in that case there was no contact and it was, if you use the analogy, it was the professional foul, so it was Charles’ warning.”

Asked if the decision to give drivers more leeway could lead to one or two taking advantage, he replied: “I don’t think they will act more dangerously.

“They are on a border. And you can step over that border relatively easily, so I think it’s been the way it’s worked and the two manners it’s been introduced in and used so far, for me, I think it’s serving its purpose.

“But you’ve got to look at each incident on its own merit, I don’t think you can generalise across the board and say painting in that way. You need to look at each and every single one.”

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