Leclerc penalised for first lap incident


Charles Leclerc has been handed a grid penalty for his part in the first lap clash in today's Sakhir Grand Prix.

The Ferrari driver was eliminated in the first lap clash with Sergio Perez that also saw Max Verstappen eliminated.

The stewards, having heard from Leclerc), team representatives and having reviewed multiple angles of video evidence, deemed that the Ferrari driver braked too late into Turn 4, locking the front right wheel and colliding with Perez who was taking the normal racing line into the corner.

As a result of this incident, which caused considerable damage to the front-left of the Ferrari, Max Verstappen had to take avoiding action and subsequently went into the barriers.

Even as the race continued, Leclerc accepted blame for the incident.

"I was in fifth I think, and I was side-by-side, a bit behind Max I think, and tried to overtake him into Turn 4," said the Ferrari driver. "I had seen Checo, but I expected him to go around the outside of Valtteri and stay there, but I think he decided after to come back on the inside, and I was there.

"It was too late for me to slow down," he admitted. "I don't think it's a mistake from Checo, I'm not putting the blame on Checo. If there's anybody to blame today, it's me.

"But I would say it's more unfortunate than blame," he added.

Told that Leclerc had accepted responsibility for the incident, Verstappen, snapped: "As he should."

"The start wasn't bad, but of course, Valtteri squeezed, which is normal, so I had to back out," added the Dutchman.

"From there onwards, it was all about surviving in-between the cars," he continued. "I don't know why they were being so aggressive and so reckless. We are all up in the front, and at the end of the day now, three cars basically were the victim of that, two cars heavily.

"I don't really know why, especially Charles in Turn 4, why he dives up the inside like that, especially to brake that late as well. What do you expect?

"Checo cannot see what is happening on the inside, and he basically just locked his wheel and understeered into him. When Checo was spinning backwards, I tried to go around the outside, tried not to damage my car, but there's nothing you can do there."

In addition to a three-place grid penalty for next week's race in Abu Dhabi, Leclerc was handed two penalty points.

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Published: 06/12/2020
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