Charles Leclerc gets three-place grid penalty for blocking Lando Norris at Monaco GP

MONACO -- Charles Leclerc will drop from third to sixth on the grid for the Monaco Grand Prix after receiving a penalty for impeding Lando Norris in qualifying.

The decision, which was issued 2½ hours after qualifying finished Saturday, means Leclerc's run of bad luck at his home race continues for another year.

The Ferrari driver had been in contention for pole position but was 0.106 seconds off Max Verstappen's fastest lap time at the end of a thrilling Q3 session.

After setting his final lap time in Q3, Leclerc was slowing down and returning to the pits when he blocked Norris on a fast lap.

The stewards talked to both drivers and team representatives after the session and said the decision had been made because Ferrari made little effort to warn Leclerc of Norris' presence.

"Norris was on a fast lap and caught Leclerc in the middle of the tunnel and was clearly impeded," the stewards said in a statement.

"Both drivers agreed that there was little that Leclerc could have safely done in the tunnel to avoid impeding Norris, given the difficulty in vision due to the light entering and in the tunnel and the change of lines from one side of the tunnel to the other.

"In fact, the stewards observed that Leclerc reacted in a sensible way to a blue flag displayed by the marshals, but at this point it was too late. However, the stewards reviewed team radio, and Leclerc's team failed to give him any warning about Norris' approach until Norris was already directly behind him.

"Further, the discussion during the preceding portion of the track was entirely about competing drivers, not the traffic behind, which is a critical task at this track. The stewards believe that there is much that Leclerc could have done prior to the tunnel to avoid the impeding had he received warning from the team at an appropriate time, especially considering that Norris' approach was clear on the marshalling system.

"Thus, the stewards consider that the impeding was unnecessary."

The stewards added that they considered historical precedents in previous qualifying sessions before issuing the penalty.

"The stewards reviewed all the preceding unnecessarily impeding penalties in the past few years. In every case, the actions, or inaction of the team did not mitigate the unnecessary impeding. Thus the stewards impose the usual penalty of a three grid drop."