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Leclerc given three-place grid penalty for Austria Sprint after impeding Piastri in Shootout

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Charles Leclerc has been hit with a three-place grid penalty for the Saturday’s Sprint race in Austria, after the stewards deemed that the Ferrari driver blocked McLaren rival Oscar Piastri during the Shootout.

Replays showed Piastri getting caught out by Leclerc’s slow-moving car at the apex of Turn 9 in the SQ1 phase, with the rookie subsequently eliminated in 17th position, while Leclerc narrowly made it through in 15th.

READ MORE: Verstappen charges to P1 over Perez and Norris during Sprint Shootout in Austria

Leclerc went on to qualify sixth for the 100-kilometre Sprint, but will now drop to ninth – promoting Aston Martin pair Fernando Alonso and Lance Stroll and Alpine’s Esteban Ocon – after the application of his penalty.

“The driver of Car 81 (Piastri) stated that as he approached Turn 9 he saw that Car 16 (Leclerc) was travelling slowly and had to brake, reducing his speed by approximately 45 km/h over the previous push lap,” read the stewards’ report.

“This was verified by the Stewards referencing the telemetry of Car 81. It was confirmed Car 81 lost approximately 0.5 of a second in that minisector (5.3s v 4.8s).

Sprint Shootout Highlights: 2023 Austrian Grand Prix

“The driver of Car 16 stated that the last call he had from his team was when he was approaching Turn 4 (‘Piastri 6 seconds’) and that he saw Car 81 in his mirrors as he was in Turn 8 and Car 81 was in Turn 7.

“The Team Representative of Car 16 stated that the team ‘could have done better’ in communicating the rapid approach of Car 81 and its drivers stated that ‘if I had been warned I could have done something earlier’.

READ MORE: McLaren exercise right of review over Norris’ penalty in Canada for ‘unsportsmanlike behaviour’

“Accordingly, we determine that although this was not entirely the fault of the driver, and that the team’s lack of communication was the major contributing factor, a grid position penalty must be imposed as Car 81 was ‘unnecessarily impeded’, because there is no doubt that the situation could have been avoided.

“It should also be noted that this penalty is to apply ONLY to the Sprint and should the driver be unable to contest the Sprint at this event, the penalty shall carry over to the next Sprint (and not the Grand Prix).”

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