Double penalty hit drops Ferrari's Leclerc to P7!

© XPB 

Charles Leclerc was hit with a double dose of post-race sanctions by the Japanese GP stewards that have dropped the Ferrari driver from 6th to 7th in the event's final results.

Leclerc's first penalty was handed to the Monegasque for his opening lap clash with Max Verstappen, when the Monegasque understeered into the Red Bull at Turn 2, a contact that eventually led to the Dutchman's demise from the race.

"The Stewards reviewed video evidence, heard from the driver of car 16 (Charles Lederc), the driver of car 33 (Max Verstappen) and team representatives," read a statement from the Japanese Grand Prix stewards.

"Car 16 and car 33 were side by side as they transited turn 1 and approached turn 2 on the first lap, with car 16 on the inside. As the cars approached the apex of turn 2, car 33, which was marginally in front, stayed wide and allowed sufficient room to the inside but car 16 lost front grip in the wake of the car in front and abruptly understeered towards the outside of the track. contacting car 33 and forcing it off the track.

"While the loss of front grip on car 16 caused the contact and was not intentional, that loss of grip in close proximity to the car in front should have been anticipated and allowed for by car 16. Car 16 is judged predominantly at fault for the incident."

Leclerc was sanctioned with a 5-second time penalty, while 2 penalty points were added to the Ferrari driver's licence.

Before heading to the stewards' office, Leclerc admitted that his situation at Turn 2 had been "tricky". But after reviewing the incident, he accepted responsibility for the mishap.

"My mistake in turn one," he said. "It ruined Max’s race and put [us] in a bad position for the remaining of the race."

Unfortunately, there was more to come for the 21-year-old.

Damage sustained to Leclerc's front wing during the contact prompted Ferrari to call its driver into the pits. But Leclerc - running third - indicated that his car was doing fine, which in turn decided the Scuderia to delay the stop.

But that decision was also frowned upon by the stewards who declared that Leclerc had "continued to drive the car in an unsafe condition".

"During lap 2, at turn 11 one section of the front wing detached from the car," stated the stewards' report.

"Later on that lap, after turn 14 a larger section of front wing detached from car 16 and impacted car 44 which was closely following car 16. This piece of wing narrowly avoided an impact in the area of the cockpit of car 44 and destroyed the right-side mirror of car 44.

"After this second piece detached, the team felt the car was now in a safe condition and despite previously telling the Race Director that the car would be called to the pits, they told car 16 to remain out and not to pit.

"On lap 3 the Race Director called the team and directed the car be brought to the pits for inspection."

So, the end result was an additional 10-second penalty added to the driver's elapsed race time while Ferrari was fined a hefty $25,000. Overall, the total 15-second punishment has left Leclerc 7th in the final standings.

However, Racing Point has lodged an official protest against Renault for an alleged "pre-set lap distance-dependent brake bias adjustment system" - whatever that means.

Therefore, if Daniel Ricciardo is kicked out of the top ten, Leclerc could well return to P6! Stay tuned...

Meanwhile, check out Leclerc running flat out through 130R like a one-hand bandit, keeping his left mirror from flying off into the face  of Lewis Hamilton!

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