Charles Leclerc, the 24-year-old flying Frenchman (Monacan), will begin the Australian GP on Sunday (GMT 5.00 AM) from a pole position, as the Ferrari F1 driver appeared to have averted a penalty for driving slowly in the pitlane during qualifying. In fact, Leclerc had beaten the title defender Max Verstappen on Saturday by 0.2 seconds, keeping audiences waiting for another breath-taking duel between the pair. Nonetheless, on Saturday’s qualifying, it appeared that the team’s starting position might be uncertain when Leclerc was being summoned to face off Stewards. Stewards had been probing on whether the Ferrari F1 driver, who has been leading the tally of driver’s championship with 45 points, had taken more time than that was allowed in the pits. A minimum time on the pit has been set to avoid safety hazards and to deter any moves aimed at impeding rivals.
Leclerc secures pole position after averting penalty
Although, Leclerc took more time than what was allowed in the pit, Stewards ruled out a penalty saying, “LEC started a lap that was intended to be a cool down lap, not an in lap, which would not be subject to the minimum time restriction of the regulation.
Part way through the lap, the decision was made to come in. During the lap there was heavy traffic and LEC took effort to ensure that he did not impede other drivers on push laps. These efforts significantly slowed his lap time.
As a result, the minimum time was breached. The Stewards accept the driver's rationale for his actionsÍ¾ find that he acted reasonably under the circumstancesÍ¾ and, therefore, take no further action”.
Leclerc came into the Australian GP after seizing a scintillating victory in season opening Bahrain GP and a No 2 podium finish at Jeddah in Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. Here is the entire result on Saturday’s qualifying (Courtesy: Formula 1) 1.
Charles Leclerc (Ferrari) 1:17.868
2. Max Verstappen (Red Bull) 1:18.154
3. Sergio Perez (Red Bull) 1:18.240
4. Lando Norris (McLaren) 1:18.703
5. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1:18.825
6. George Russell (Mercedes) 1:18.933
7. Daniel Ricciardo (McLaren) 1:19.032
Esteban Ocon (Alpine) 1:19.061
9. Carlos Sainz (Ferrari) 1:18.496
10. Fernando Alonso (Alpine) 1:18.815
11. Pierre Gasly (Alphatauri) 1:19.226
12. Valterri Bottas (Alfa Romeo) 1:19.251
13. Yuki Tsonoda (Alphatauri) 1:19.424
14. Zhou Guanya (Alfa Romeo) 1:19.910
Mick Schumacher (Haas) 1:20.104
16. Alex Albon (Williams) 1.20:135
17. Kevin Magnussen (Haas) 1:20.254
18. Sebastian Vettel (Aston Martin) 1:21.149
19. Nicholas Latifi (Williams) 1:21.372
NC. Lance Stroll (Aston Martin) DNF