Charles Leclerc has dodged a grid penalty for his home race at the Monaco Grand Prix but has been given his first reprimand of the season for an infringement under the Virtual Safety Car in FP3.

The Ferrari driver, who topped the final practice session, was put under investigation for the offence after failing to stay above the minimum time set by the FIA for a Virtual Safety Car period which was triggered when Sebastian Vettel crashed at Sainte Devote.

Following a hearing with the FIA stewards after FP3 Leclerc had slowed around Turn 1 and Turn 2, where his team-mate had crashed ahead of him, but remained under the minimum lap time for a Virtual Safety Car period until Turn 8.

As a result, Leclerc has been given his first reprimand of the year but avoided a potential grid penalty “which is consistent with similar cases during practice sessions”, according to an FIA statement.

“The Stewards reviewed video and telemetry evidence and heard from the driver of car 16 (Charles Leclerc) and team representative,” the FIA statement read.

“The driver clearly and appropriately braked before Turn 1 in reaction to the incident at the corner. The VSC appeared when the driver was between Turn 1 and Turn 2. The driver did slow significantly, however he remained below the minimum time set by the FIA ECU until past Turn 8.

“The stewards recognised that the driver was considerably slower than a normal lap throughout the sequence. However, as the VSC is imposed for safety reasons, the stewards determined that the breach needed to be recognised.

“The stewards therefore impose a Reprimand, which is consistent with similar cases during practice sessions.”

Leclerc may have been fearing a potential grid penalty as Vettel was hit with a three-place grid drop for failing to slow down sufficiently under red flags during practice at last year’s United States Grand Prix, while Esteban Ocon (Japanese Grand Prix) and Daniel Ricciardo (Australian Grand Prix) also picked up the same penalty in 2018.

But with the incident occurring under a Virtual Safety Car rather than the red flag, the FIA stewards have confirmed a reprimand acts as a sufficient penalty for the offence.

Qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix gets underway today at 14:00 local time.

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