The FIA has revealed why Charles Leclerc was not penalised for his defensive moves against Lewis Hamilton on his way to winning Formula 1’s Italian Grand Prix.
Leclerc and Hamilton engaged in a thrilling scrap for the lead for much of the race at Monza, with the pair running wheel-to-wheel on a number of occasions.
The Ferrari driver forced Hamilton to take to the run-off area at the Roggia chicane and also appeared to move under braking again later through Curva Grande.
Leclerc received a black-and-white unsporting behaviour flag as a warning but the stewards opted to take no further action, leaving Hamilton bemused by the leniency.
“I think there’s two parts to that,” FIA race director Michael Masi explained.
“One, there was contact last year with Max [Verstappen], so that’s one part of it.
“The second part of it is that we need to remember a couple of points; the discussion with the drivers in Bahrain about let them race, the subsequent discussions that have been ongoing with team principals, drivers, sporting directors, then you look at it particularly in the context of Spa, where we said we are going to reintroduce the use of the bad sportsmanship flag.
“[Pierre] Gasly, for a very similar incident in Spa received the bad sportsmanship flag, so in that case there was no contact and it was, if you use the analogy, it was the professional foul, so it was Charles’ warning.”
Leclerc said learning he could race more aggressively after fighting with Max Verstappen in Austria earlier this year prompted his approach to racing Hamilton at Monza.
“I don’t think aggression is probably the right word,” Masi said when made aware of Leclerc’s comments.
“That might be his words but I think is it hard racing? Yes. From that perspective I don’t think you can compare what has happened in those instances versus these.
“It’s ultimately the stewards’ decision if somebody gets penalised or the bad sportsmanship flag, but if the stewards feel there was more to it then we absolutely have the capability of issuing a penalty and that’s exactly where it sits. I think it was hard.
“The black and white was issued for the reason it was there. It’s quite simple for me and a carbon copy of what Pierre did last weekend in Spa. It achieved its purpose.”
Asked if he is concerned drivers will push the margin more now with extra scope, Masi replied: “I don’t think they will act more dangerously.
“They are on a border. And you can step over that border relatively easily, so I think it’s been the way it’s worked and the two manners it’s been introduced in and used so far, for me, I think it’s serving its purpose.
“But you’ve got to look at each incident on its own merit, I don’t think you can generalise across the board and say painting in that way. You need to look at each and every single one.”