Charles Leclerc has been hit with a host of time penalties for staying out and driving his Ferrari Formula 1 car in an “unsafe condition” during the Japanese Grand Prix.

Leclerc failed to pit in the early stages of Sunday’s race after picking up damage in a first corner collision with Red Bull driver Max Verstappen and has been subsequently penalised by the stewards, with his punishment totalling a 15-second post-race time penalty.

Firstly, Leclerc had five seconds added to his race time for forcing Verstappen off track, with the Japanese GP stewards arguing that the “loss of grip in close proximity to the car in front should have been anticipated and allowed for”, concluding that Leclerc was “predominantly at fault” for the collision.

The Monegasque driver has also had two penalty points imposed on his license for the incident. These are the first penalty points Leclerc has notched up in the current 12-month period.

Leclerc was slapped with a further 10-second penalty for “continuing to drive the car in an unsafe condition” after Ferrari had notified race director Michael Masi that they were calling the car into the pits at the end of Lap 2, an instruction Leclerc ignored, before finally pitting at the end of the following lap.

Ferrari has also received a €25,000 fine for the incident, while Leclerc has dropped one position to seventh, behind Renault's Daniel Ricciardo

Speaking about the decision, Masi said: “I was originally advised that they would be pitting the car.

“They then chose not to, and then subsequently Ferrari were instructed  to pit Charles' car by me, which it did.

“It was on the second lap, the elements came off and they were still instructed to pit because we could not confirm if there was going to be anything else that was going to come off.”

Asked if he was annoyed by the situation, Masi replied: “More than slightly annoyed from a safety perspective.”

The stewards opted to take no further action on Verstappen, who had branded Leclerc’s driving as “irresponsible” in the immediate aftermath of the race.

 

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