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Formula 1 Austrian GP

Leclerc gets three-place grid drop for Austria F1 sprint race

Charles Leclerc has been given a three-place grid penalty for the Formula 1 sprint race at the Austrian Grand Prix after he impeded Oscar Piastri in qualifying.

Charles Leclerc, Scuderia Ferrari

During Q1 of the Saturday morning shootout qualifying session, the Ferrari driver got in the way of his McLaren competitor in the final sequence of corners.

Piastri complained on the team radio about the matter and both drivers were summoned to see the stewards after the session.

Following a hearing, the stewards concluded that while Leclerc had not had as clear communication to warn him about Piastri approaching him, he still could have done a better job in getting out of the way.

That is why it was decided to hand him a three-place grid drop for Saturday afternoon’s sprint race. That will drop him from sixth to ninth, as he drops behind Fernando Alonso, Lance Stroll and Esteban Ocon.

A statement issued by the stewards said: “The driver of Car 81 [Piastri] stated that as he approached Turn 9 he saw that Car 16 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 mini sector (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.

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari SF-23, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60

Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images

“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.”

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The stewards have also made a point of emphasising that if Leclerc cannot serve his penalty in the Austria sprint race, then the penalty will carry forward to the next sprint event at Spa rather than Sunday's main Grand Prix.

They added: “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).”

Haas has been given a €5000 suspended fine for an unsafe release of Nico Hulkenberg during the sprint qualifying session.

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