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Charles Leclerc

How Ferrari saved Leclerc from severe punishment after qualifying

Charles Leclerc could have wrecked his qualifying session when he drove past the FIA weighbridge after being called up. RacingNews365.com explains why he escaped being punished...

Leclerc weighbridge Monaco 2022
To news overview © XPB Images

Charles Leclerc was fortunate to just notice that he had been called to the FIA weighbridge as he trundled down the pit lane at 60 kilometres an hour during Saturday's qualifying session.

Going on to take pole position at the end of the session, Leclerc came very close to picking up a disqualification had he returned to his garage after the FIA selected him for a random check.

It is a routine operation for the FIA to randomly select cars for weighing as they enter the pit lane. An electronic board displays a driver race number, signalling a driver to pull over into the FIA weighbridge for checking. Drivers must sit in front of the scales with the engine off, before FIA officials roll the car onto the scales.

Failing to comply with this check can result in draconian punishments – Red Bull's Pierre Gasly had to start the 2019 Azerbaijan Grand Prix from the pit lane after missing the weighbridge.

"If his car had been fifty kilos too light, the penalty would have been even lower than the penalty is now for missing the weighbridge," said his then-team boss Christian Horner.

With Leclerc driving straight past the weighbridge during Monaco qualifying, he fortunately made right his mistake as quickly as possible and wasn't punished.

What are the current rules for weighing?

After the rather strict punishment for Gasly in 2019 – whose car fully complied with the weight minimums – the rules were adjusted to grant the stewards a wider range of punishments.

Failure to be weighed when called up can result in a stewards summons, before they apply what they deem an appropriate penalty. This can be a disqualification, but can also be a less damaging grid penalty.

The Sporting Regulations Article 35.1a covers the rules: "A driver must drive immediately to the FIA ​​garage and switch off his engine the moment he is selected."

Article 35.1b makes it clear: "Any driver who fails to stop when asked to do so, and then fails to bring the car back to the FIA garage, or if work is carried out on the car before it is returned to the FIA garage, will be referred to the stewards."

But Leclerc ended up driving straight past the weighbridge and most of the way back to his garage before coming to a stop in the pits and waiting for his mechanics to push him back.

This was because he had simply failed to spot the electronic board: "It's difficult here in Monaco because I don't even know where that panel where we need to see it is, but it's very far out of your field of view. That's why I didn't see it at all."

How Ferrari saved the day

Because Ferrari could also see on their monitors that Leclerc had been called to the weighbridge, they immediately intervened to prevent him from having his weekend severely compromised.

"Luckily for me, my team saw the sign," the Monegasque driver explained.

"They told me to stop immediately, after which they pushed me back to the weighbridge. So we managed to avoid this difficult situation."

As Leclerc hadn't returned to the garage, with his car in clear view stopped in the pit lane before his mechanics pushed him back to the weighbridge, the FIA Race Director was able to assess the situation and didn't have to refer Leclerc to the stewards after qualifying.

Of course, given the close nature of the championship, there were some calls from the Red Bull camp for a punishment for Leclerc, but Ferrari ensured that there was no reason for the FIA to take any further notice of Leclerc's error.

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