The Ferrari driver and Alfa Romeo pair were each investigated for going over the 1m54-second maximum lap time delta during the first segment of qualifying at Suzuka. But all three were cleared by the stewards. 

It was announced ahead of the weekend that the FIA would again enforce a maximum time limit on all laps during qualifying, having not done so in Singapore. 

“All drivers stayed at or above speeds necessary to stay below 1’54 around the vast majority of the circuit,” the stewards noted. 

“However, in all cases the stewards determined that the drivers took appropriate actions to slow and stay to the side to the track so as to not impede other drivers, and in all cases, they did this significantly to allow four or more drivers to pass while giving those drivers a clear track.

“The stewards therefore determine that they did not drive ‘unnecessarily slowly’, and that evidently the reason they were all slightly above the maximum time was due to their appropriate actions and take no further action.”

Explaining his incident before the stewards’ verdict was announced, Leclerc said: “I think as soon as they look into it they will understand pretty easily I’ve been sent in the worst position possible in Q1 and I had to let cars past wherever I could,” Leclerc said before the decision was announced.

“I think I had 10 seconds to recover in sector two and three, but that wasn’t enough. I recovered five seconds, I was faster than the delta as soon as I let the traffic past but there was too much traffic.”

Leclerc and Ferrari teammate Carlos Sainz were let off for the same offence during qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.