Leclerc looking for rethink in yellow flag rules after ‘not fair’ Baku penalty


Charles Leclerc has a 42-point advantage after the round in Baku - Credit: Andy Hone/FIA Formula 2

Charles Leclerc is calling for the rules that saw him penalised with a ten-second time penalty during the Sprint race in Azerbaijan on Sunday to be changed, with the Monegasque driver losing the race victory as a result.

The Prema Racing driver was handed an identical penalty to that handed to title rival Oliver Rowland during Saturday’s Feature race for improving his sector time while yellow flags were flying, and much like the Briton, he was unhappy that he was handed the penalty despite slowing down at the corner where the yellow flags were flying when Nyck de Vries retired.

Having run in clean air for the first time and having been able to use DRS in the sector in question, Leclerc was substantially faster on that lap, even with the slowing down for the incident, but because he improved his time in the whole sector, he was penalised.

“The rule is not completely fair and [the rulemakers] are aware,” Leclerc said to Motorsport.com. “But I also understand the decision because they had to do this with Oliver the day before, so it’s quite normal that I got the penalty also.

“I spoke to them and I definitely think it should be changed for the future because it’s not very fair.

“I was stuck behind the traffic all the beginning of the race, and that was the first lap where I got free of traffic. I overtook on the straight with the DRS and then I was free of traffic for all of the first sector, so I improved massively in all the corners but in the particular corner where there was a yellow flag, I slowed down by seven tenths or something like this. 

“It’s a lot but the overall sector has been improved – but the particular corner that was on yellow flags I slowed down.”

Despite the incident, Leclerc was able to come home second and extend his advantage at the top of the championship standings over Rowland to 42-points heading to his favourite track on the calendar, the Red Bull Ring in Austria.

“I’m very happy about this weekend, I think race 2 was even better than race 1 in terms of pace,” said Leclerc. “So I’m just very, very satisfied with how it ended after a difficult first part of the weekend.

“I thank the Prema team for the amazing job again. The next race is in Austria on my favourite track and I’m really looking forward to it.”