FIA F1 Race Director Michael Masi says Charles Leclerc was shown the black-and-white flag for “bad sportsmanship” And warns to expect to see it shown more routinely
“I wanted to leave Monza with my life, why do you think?”
But really; did this deserve a penalty outright? I think so, but it’s not the worst we’ve seen over the last several years from F1. The way I look at it, he explicitly made a move to prevent Lewis from passing after he had already committed to a line. With this era of cars with melt-in-your-mouth tires and severe overheating issues, a driver may only get one opportunity to pass. So if a driver does what Leclerc did here on what appears to be the attacker’s best attempt, what’s stopping them from a similar block if the penalty risk is only a warning?
I’ve hated the racecraft if F1 for years now, though. So, maybe I’m wrong. F1 drivers have gotten away with moving in the braking zone, blatant reactive blocks on the straights, and (the most infuriating and worst) forcing the driver on the outside line off the track no matter how far along the outside driver may be. Leave a car’s width if there’s a car alongside you. Simple. Don’t and get a penalty. Every other series in the world has no issue with drivers just bullying each other off the road in the dumbest game of chicken, and F1 is still terrified to enforce anything.
The “let them race” argument comes from the years when F1 penalized actual mistakes. Lock up while battling and knock both drivers out? Grid penalty. Slide putting the power down and bump another car off? 5 seconds. Seriously. Go watch some races from about 2010-2015. Drivers got penalized for anything. They took the consistency complaints to the absolute extreme.
Let them race free of worry from mistakes, but make them race fairly and respectfully.