Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc had a fairly eventful Japanese Grand Prix 2019 on Sunday. The Monegasque driver tangled with Max Verstappen, ending the latter’s race and dropping himself to the back of the pack.
In the wake of the incident, and not pitting for repairs, the FIA slapped two penalties on him. However, there were allegations that he was given a more lenient penalty when Ferrari failed to pit his damaged car. However, the FIA has refuted the silly idea and revealed the reason behind the 5 and 10-second time penalties.
Following his first-lap collision with Verstappen, Charles Leclerc skipped the pit lane twice. All the while, his Ferrari shed pieces of carbon fibre on the track and in the face of Lewis Hamilton. In addition to that, the likes of Lando Norris even picked up a small puncture after he ran over pieces of the Ferrari.
Leclerc had “10 seconds added to [his] elapsed race time” for continuing to drive an unsafe car.
However the official FIA document decreed that the penalty had been issued “in accordance with Article 38.3 (d) of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations.” In other words, the article stipulates a more severe penalty, which was not imposed on Leclerc.
According to article 38.9 (d) a “10 second stop‐and‐go time penalty” is the penalty for the offence. Had this penalty been imposed, Charles Leclerc would have had 30 seconds added to his race time instead of 10.
Owing to this, it was suggested that Leclerc had been given the wrong penalty. However an FIA spokesperson confirmed to RaceFans the reference to “Article 38.3 (d)” in the stewards’ document is incorrect.
Leclerc’s 10-second time penalty, as well as his five-second time penalty dropped him from sixth place to seventh in the final classification. Had he received a 30-second penalty, he would have dropped out of the points to 13th place.
The last driver to be penalised for driving a car in an unsafe condition was Nico Rosberg during the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix. The 2016 World champion was slapped with the penalty after a collision with teammate Lewis Hamilton. It was worth noting that at that time, Rosberg was simply given a reprimand.
However this incident occurred on the final lap of the race, and Rosberg did not miss multiple opportunities to pit as Leclerc did.