Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc avoid penalties after dramatic FP3 at Spanish GP

lance stroll and charles leclerc avoid penalties after dramatic fp3 at spanish gp

Lance Stroll and Charles Leclerc avoid penalties after dramatic FP3 at Spanish GP

Sparks were flying Saturday at the Formula 1 Spanish Grand Prix.

Not during qualifying — that has yet to take place — but to paraphrase the legendary Allen Iverson, we’re talking about practice.

The final free practice session ahead of qualifying at the Spanish Grand Prix saw tempers flare in two separate incidents, one involving Lance Stroll and Lewis Hamilton and the other involving Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc. All four drivers were summoned to meet with race stewards following the session, and following those meetings race officials decided to show some leniency, rather than hand down grid penalties.

Let’s dive into both incidents, and the decisions from the stewards.

Lewis Hamilton and Lance Stroll

Let’s first talk about the incident between Lewis Hamilton and Lance Stroll. That incident occurred during the session, near the apex of Turn 5. As you will see here, Hamilton is operating slowly along the right side of the track when Stroll comes up behind him. You will see the seven-time Drivers’ Champion wave his hand towards Stroll and concede over the radio to his team that he did not see the Aston Martin driver, but then Stroll looks to turn into Hamilton’s W15 in what the commentators on F1TV termed as perhaps a “ ... bit of a sidepod rebuke:”

Both drivers were summoned to meet with race officials at 2:00 p.m. local time. Shortly after the hearing, the race officials released their decision, which was a reprimand for Stroll.

lance stroll and charles leclerc avoid penalties after dramatic fp3 at spanish gp

As you can see from the stewards’ report, during the hearing Stroll admitted that “ ... he wanted to express his displeasure to the other driver by pulling over on him at the exit.” However, the hearing found that the contact between the two was “incidental,” and while the move by Stroll was found to be “erratic” race stewards did not believe it to be “dangerous,” and therefore thought a reprimand was more in line with previous decisions.

Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc

The incident between Lando Norris and Charles Leclerc came later in the session. The Ferrari driver was on a push lap at the very end of FP3 and came upon Norris near Turn 5. The McLaren driver was moving at a much slower pace and on the left side of the track, off the racing line.

Leclerc was frustrated when he came across Norris, and let the McLaren driver know it:

Following the session, both Norris and Leclerc were summoned to meet with race stewards at 2:15 p.m. local time. In the moments ahead of qualifying, the stewards released their decision, which was right in line with the decision handed down regarding the Stroll-Hamilton incident: A reprimand for Leclerc.

lance stroll and charles leclerc avoid penalties after dramatic fp3 at spanish gp

Similar to the Stroll incident, Leclerc indicated that he felt he was impeded by Norris and that it “ ... upset him.” Leclerc then admitted that he aborted his push lap, but then stated that he “misjudged the position of his car” and made contact with Norris as a result.

Race officials, as they did with Stroll, found the driving “erratic” but not “dangerous,” and determined that a reprimand was in line with previous decisions.

However, some wondered if these decisions were the right approach. Speaking on F1TV ahead of qualifying David Coulthard stated that both Stroll and Leclerc could probably consider themselves “incredibly lucky to get away with just a reprimand.”

Remember, this was just practice.

Qualifying begins in minutes.

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