Charles Leclerc was handed a three-place grid penalty by FIA Formula Race Stewards for Saturday’s Sprint Race at the 2023 Austrian Grand Prix, the Ferrari driver guilty of impeding McLaren’s Oscar Piastri.
The incident occurred during the Shootout earlier in the day, which set the grid for the Sprint this afternoon at Red Bull Ring.
Piastri on a hot lap was hampered by Leclerc’s slow-moving car in the middle of Turn 9 which cost the rookie a shot in SQ2, while the Ferrari man scraped through by 0.001s which was just good enough for 15th and safety.
Leclerc ended sixth fastest but drops down to ninth on the Sprint Race grid. This promotes Aston Martin pair Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon up the order thanks to the penalty.
FIA F1 Race Stewards reported their decision: “The driver of Car 81 (Piastri) stated that as he approached Turn 9 he saw that Car 16 (Leclerc) 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.
“It should also be noted that this penalty is to apply ONLY to the Sprint and should the driver be unable to contest the Sprint at this event, the penalty shall carry over to the next Sprint (and not the Grand Prix).”
Leclerc won the Austrian Grand Prix last year and will line up second on the grid for the main race on Sunday, alongside pole winner Max Verstappen, the Red Bull driver will also start from the top spot for the Sprint Race today.