Leclerc demoted to 7th due to time penalties

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F1 Grand Prix, GP Japan, Circuit Suzukajp

Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has been demoted to 7th in the result of today's Japanese Grand Prix, as a double penalty given after the race made him lose his 6th place.

Leclerc came together with Max Verstappen on the exit of Turn 1 of the first lap, triggering a furious reaction from Verstappen, who dubbed the Ferrari driver's actions irresponsible.

The incident that saw Leclerc slide into Verstappen by losing grip on the exit of the corner was initially not being investigated, but following Verstappen's anger, and Ferrari's subsequent decision to keep Leclerc out, despite damage on his car, triggered an investigation.

Both drivers were seen after the race, after which the stewards decided Leclerc was "predominantly" at fault. The Monegasque Ferrari driver was handed a 5-second penalty and two penalty points on his super license.

“Car 33 [Verstappen], 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,” said the stewards in a statement.

“While the loss of front grip on car 16 [Leclerc] 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.”

Leclerc continued on for three laps before pitting. By then, the left front wing endplate had flown off, hitting Hamilton in the cockpit area.

The stewards decided Ferrari allowed the driver to continue "in unsafe conditions", and therefore handed another, 10-second penalty.

“This piece of wing narrowly avoided an impact in the area of the cockpit of car 44 [Hamilton] 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. Car 16 pitted at the end of lap 3.

“By not bringing car 16 into the pits at the end of lap 1, immediately after the incident for a safety inspection when there was damage clearly visible and then by telling the driver to remain out for an additional lap after telling the Race Director otherwise, the team created an unsafe condition on the circuit which only narrowly avoided being a major incident and also increased the likelihood of additional incidents after the one noted.”

The penalty also involved a €25,000 fine for Ferrari and demoted Leclerc to 7th, behind Renault's Daniel Ricciardo.