Kevin Magnussen penalised after Charles Leclerc plea

Charles Leclerc will start the 2023 Belgian GP from pole position, following Max Verstappen taking a grid drop.

Kevin Magnussen has received a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s Belgian Grand Prix, after impeding Charles Leclerc during qualifying.

Magnussen had qualified 13th but will now start from 16th following the grid drop, which was declared by the FIA.

The Haas driver impeded Leclerc when he rejoined the racing line after going off the circuit, leaving the Monegasque furious.

“What the ****? I don’t know who that guy was, the Haas, but I hope he gets a penalty,” Leclerc said over the team radio.

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Leclerc’s demands were met by the governing body, who explained after qualifying why the Danish driver was presented with a three-place grid penalty.

“Magnussen left the track at Turn 9 and made contact with the wall,” said an FIA statement.

“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.

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“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.”

The incident didn’t stop Leclerc from making it into Q3, where he set the second-quickest lap.

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However, following a five-place grid penalty for pole sitter Max Verstappen, Leclerc will actually start on pole Sunday at Spa-Francorchamps.

The 25-year-old has looked quick at the historic venue and will be hoping to claim pole for Saturday’s sprint race as well, in the sprint shootout.

Leclerc last started both the sprint and the main race on pole at the 2023 Azerbaijan Grand Prix.