Magnussen handed grid penalty for impeding Leclerc

Magnussen handed grid penalty for impeding Leclerc

Kevin Magnussen dropped three grid positions on the starting grid for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix after race officials discovered that he impeded Charles Leclerc in Friday’s qualifying session, handing him the penalty.

In the second qualifying round, Magnussen ran into the wall exiting Speaker’s Corner along with driving a damaged Haas and stayed in the racing lane through the next turns, significantly impeding Leclerc.

The incident happened immediately following Magnussen’s off-track detour, as he stayed on the dry line through the next few turns despite Leclerc following him on a quick lap. The Haas driver will now start 16th on the grid, moving up Alex Albon, Esteban Ocon, and Valtteri Bottas respectively.

Leclerc expressed his displeasure over the team radio after catching up with Magnussen, who had narrowly avoided slamming his Haas into the Turn 9 barrier that Alpine’s Esteban Ocon had hit minutes before destroying the front wing.

The Ferrari driver was audibly frustrated on team radio, saying: “What the ****? I don’t know who that guy was, the Haas, but I hope he gets a penalty.”

Upon a post-session review, the stewards docked Magnussen three grid slots for Sunday’s race, claiming that he and his Haas team should have exercised more caution to avoid impeding the Ferrari.

An FIA statement read: “Magnussen left the track at Turn 9 and made contact with the wall. He then rejoined and drove the dry line. Leclerc, who was on a fast lap, caught Magnussen who did not give way until turn 16.

“Magnussen explained that he did not feel it was safe to move off onto the wet at speed and give room to Leclerc, particularly in the turns between 11 and 15.

“The Stewards observed that he did not receive a warning from his team that Leclerc was behind until Leclerc was right behind him at turn 10. The team also told him to push, as he needed to make it to the line to get another lap.

“Whether it was his failure to slow and yield following his accident, or whether it was the team’s failure to give information early enough that he could have pulled off earlier, or whether it was the instruction to push through the lap; in any case the Stewards determine that he unnecessarily impeded Leclerc.”

Given the penalty, Magnussen drops from 13th to 16th on the starting grid as the damage to his car from the impact with the wall prevented him from improving on his final lap and qualifying for the third round.

“I hit the wall in Turn 9 exit and damaged the car, the rear wing and the floor, so got another attempt, but obviously but it was with the damaged car,” Magnussen said after the Belgian Grand Prix qualifying. “I think I made the best of it but shouldn’t have been off, of course. The car was pretty damaged, I was in the tyre wall.”

Polesitter Leclerc expressed a greater capacity for compassion after calming down and reflecting on the the incident claiming Magnussen was in a difficult situation.

“There’s just one dry line, it’s very difficult to go outside of the dry line on slicks,” he conceded. “In normal circumstances, you would have moved away from the racing line, but in those conditions, it’s not that easy.”

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