Sensor error led to Leclerc’s “unfortunate” pit lane speed penalty

Sensor error led to Leclerc’s “unfortunate” pit lane speed penalty

Sensor error led to Leclerc’s “unfortunate” pit lane speed penalty

Leclerc was given a five-second time penalty shortly after the checkered flag when it was found that he had exceeded the speed limit in the pit lane when he came in at the end of lap 42.

The penalty dropped Leclerc from fifth to sixth behind Fernando Alonso and came after Leclerc had walked comfortably in fifth. The decision to re-enter the pits was an attempt by Ferrari to take the bonus point for fastest lap, but Leclerc fell six tenths of a second behind Max Verstappen’s best lap time.

Leclerc took the blame for exceeding the speed limit in the pit lane, but Ferrari F1 boss Mattia Binotto revealed a sensor failure due to a tear in the visor that got stuck in Leclerc’s front right brake channel, affecting the measurements of the team may be slightly different.

“It was really, really borderline,” Binotto said after the race when asked by Autosport about the decision to pit Leclerc so late.

“We didn’t use our normal sensors to measure speed because they broke during the front right overheating caused by Max tearing off, and our recovery [system]maybe it wasn’t that accurate.

“I think it has been an unfortunate situation overall. It’s not because of that we stop deciding and be brave, to go for a fastest lap when the conditions are there to go for it.”

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Charles Leclerc, Ferrari

Photo by: Erik Junius

Leclerc was found to have exceeded the 80 km/h limit in the pit lane by 1 km/h by the stewards, leading to the five-second time penalty.

It marked another setback for Leclerc and Ferrari on a day when their title hopes took another big hit after Verstappen won the race from 14th on the grid to win the race, extending his championship lead to 98 points over Leclerc .

Binotto felt the call to bring in Leclerc so he could try and score the fastest lap bonus point was the right thing to do.

“It’s the chance to try and get the fastest lap, and Fernando had a margin to stop and go for it,” said Binotto.

“I think it was the right decision and we knew it would have been very close to Fernando. It’s just tight losing the position.

“But we also knew that he could have overtaken him because he had fresher tires and that could have helped in terms of DRS and top speed on the straight.

“Again, I think it was the right decision.”

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Ferrari has had a handful of strategic setbacks this season and during the race at Spa, Leclerc was faced with a number of questions from his engineer about which tires to choose.

But Binotto felt there was “no need at all” to rethink Ferrari’s approach to its strategy talks.

“Obviously there is always a need to try and improve, and there are lessons learned that we look at and reflect,” Binotto said.

“But looking back on the season, I think there are a lot of outside perceptions compared to what is the truth and the reality. I think sometimes we don’t make mistakes when maybe it was seen as a mistake.

“More than that, when I look at today and focus on today, I think the call to stop him was the right one. You have to be brave in F1.”

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