Charles Leclerc calls on FIA to give harsher penalties after opening lap incident with Max Verstappen

Charles Leclerc was second to Max Verstappen at the 2023 Las Vegas GP


Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has called for harsher punishments for future Formula 1 races, after Max Verstappen‘s penalty during Saturday night’s Las Vegas Grand Prix had little effect.

Leclerc and Verstappen lined up on the front row of the grid for 2023 Las Vegas GP and were level pegging heading into Turn 1 before the Red Bull driver squeezed the Monegasque wide, taking the lead.

The stewards took a dim view of Verstappen’s defending and handed him a five-second penalty, which he served at his first pitstop on Lap 17 before winning his 18th race of 2023. 

Max already came to me and explained the situation, obviously it was over the limits, and I think the five seconds penalty was deserved,” Leclerc explained to the press.

“It was tight. I still tried to push off the track, but it was [such] low grip to try and keep that position. But it’s the way it is, he has been penalised he paid the penalty, and I think that was the right penalty to give, so it’s like this.

“I just think that in those kinds of situations, it will be better for the FIA to ask to give the place back because I think there’s quite a bit of an advantage to take care of tyres when you have free air, but it’s the way it is.”

Lessons learned for the future

Despite losing out on his first win of 2023, Leclerc produced a stellar weekend in Las Vegas, taking pole position by just 0.044s from teammate Carlos Sainz.

Following their incident at Turn 1, Leclerc set about hunting Verstappen down, and on Lap 16, he retook the lead of the race, holding it until his first pit stop on Lap 22, which dropped him to third.

Leclerc didn’t pit for fresh rubber when the safety car came out for a second time due to debris caused by Verstappen and George Russell‘s collision at Turn 11 on Lap 25.

When racing resumed, Leclerc was reeled in Sergio Perez, who had stopped under the safety car, with the Mexican taking the lead on Lap 32 before losing it to the Monegasque on Lap 35.

But on the last lap of the race, Leclerc saw an opportunity and overtook Perez for second, ending Red Bull’s aspirations of their first one-two finish since September’s Italian GP.

“I’m happy, however, I think this says a lot about our car, and we are in conditions that are like nowhere else,” added Leclerc.

“It’s very cold, and I think overheating here is not that much of an issue, but it was more graining and trying to keep those tyres in temperatures, and on that, we are pretty good. 

“But whenever it’s warmer, we struggle more, so it doesn’t give me any more confidence for the future because Abu Dhabi is going to be very different compared to here.

“On the other hand, it’s always nice to have a great weekend, and I think we’ve learned a lot as well for the future, so it’s a good weekend overall.”

Ed Spencer
Ed Spencer
FIA accredited journalist
- Advertisment -


Jake Dennis of Andretti at the 2024 Misano E-Prix | Formula E

Dennis: Formula E brings something different, F1 is just a procession

Jake Dennis believes Formula E's peloton style of racing brings something different to motorsport in an era where Formula...
Pascal Wehrlein in action during the 2024 Misano E-Prix | Formula E

Wehrlein Secures Dramatic Misano E-Prix Win After Rowland Runs Out of Energy

In a stunning turn of events at the 2024 Misano E-Prix, Pascal Wehrlein seized a dramatic victory, capitalising on...
Pascal Wehrlein at the 2024 Misano E-Prix | Porsche Formula E Team

Results for Misano E-Prix 2024 Formula E Round 7

A dramatic end to Formula E Round 7 at the 2024 Misano E-Prix saw leader Oliver Rowland run out...
Oliver Rowland, Sebastien Buemi and Sam Bird battle at the Misano E-Prix | Formula E

Formula E LIVE: Misano E-Prix 2024 – Wehrlein wins on dramatic last lap

Welcome to this Total Motorsport Live Blog for Round 7 of the 2024 Formula E World Championship, where history is set...
William Byron and crew chief Rudy Fugle celebrate victory in Martinsville in 2024 | NASCAR

How often are NASCAR Cup Series podium sweeps?

It almost feels too good to be true. Hendrick Motorsports winning on the 40-year anniversary of their first ever...
Lewis Hamilton faces the media at the 2024 Japanese GP | Jiri Krenek / Mercedes F1 team

Lewis Hamilton discusses the challenge of transitioning to Ferrari

Lewis Hamilton has admitted that he's not sure how to navigate the transition from Mercedes to Ferrari as it...
Antonio Felix da Costa looks on ahead of the 2024 Misano E-Prix | Formula E

Antonio Felix da Costa stripped of Misano E-Prix victory

Antonio Felix Da Costa of Porsche has been disqualified from the inaugural Misano E-Prix, resulting in his loss of...
Mitch Evans during the 2024 Misano E-Prix | Jaguar Formula E Team / LAT Images

Mitch Evans brands Max Gunther driving ‘dirty’ and ‘ridiculous’

Mitch Evans has hit out at Maximilian Gunther's driving in the first 2024 Misano E-Prix after the pair battled...
Mitch Evans leads the field in the first 2024 Misano E-Prix | Formula E

Is Formula E ‘crazy’ peloton-style racing too dangerous?

If you turned on the TV and watched the first 2024 Misano E-Prix, you would have seen Formula E...
Antonio Felix da Costa celebrates victory after the first 2024 Misano E-Prix | Formula E

Da Costa triumphs for Porsche in chaotic Misano E-Prix

Antonio Felix Da Costa triumphed in an electrifying race for Round 6 of the Misano E-Prix, marking his first...
- Advertisment -