Charles Leclerc’s bad luck at his home Grand Prix continued after qualifying on Saturday, with the Monegasque having been demoted to sixth on the grid for Sunday’s race after being judged to have blocked Lando Norris.
The Ferrari driver appeared to block Norris in the tunnel during Q3 on Saturday at the Circuit de Monaco, with miscommunication between Leclerc and the team having perhaps played a part.
As Norris rapidly approached Leclerc, the Ferrari driver was cruising on the racing line, resulting in Norris having to suddenly back-out of his lap, much to his frustration.
As a result of the incident, Norris only managed 10th in Q3, whilst Leclerc initially claimed third.
However, following an investigation by the stewards into the incident, Leclerc was awarded a three-place grid penalty, demoting him to sixth on the grid for Sunday’s Monaco Grand Prix.
Remarkably, Leclerc’s penalty bumped Esteban Ocon into third, meaning Alpine have a great chance of securing their first podium of the season at the Principality.
Leclerc’s penalty also saw his team-mate Carlos Sainz promoted to fourth, with Lewis Hamilton having risen to fifth, meaning the Briton will now be joined on the third row by the home hero.
Prior to the penalty being announced, Norris admitted that the 25-year-old deserved a penalty, for having broken the “one rule” which you should never break.
“A penalty for him,” Norris said, when asked what Leclerc should be awarded with.
The Briton then added with a cheeky smile: “Maybe disqualified or something?
“He blocked me. It’s as simple as that. There’s one rule which is don’t slow down in the middle of the tunnel, and he did. But it’s not up to me.”
Qualifying for Norris was actually incredibly challenging, with the 23-year-old having hit the wall in the closing stages of Q2 as he entered Tabac.
He managed to bring his wounded MCL60 back to the pits, where his McLaren crew incredibly changed the entire front left of his car within 10 minutes, despite the task usually taking 20.
It was a heroic effort by the Woking-based team, who’ll now be hoping for some points on Sunday to reward them for their remarkable work.