Charles Leclerc
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc POOL via AFP / Giuseppe CACACE

Scuderia Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc has some work to do if he wants to avoid yet another nightmare at his home race. After initially qualifying in third place for this Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix, the Monegasque will be starting at P6 after having been handed a three-place grid penalty for impeding Lando Norris in the tunnel.

The incident took place in Q3 after Leclerc finished his own qualifying lap. He was making his way back to the pits but appeared to slow down in the tunnel while on the racing line. Unfortunately, Norris was on a flying lap behind him, and the McLaren driver was forced to take evasive action to avoid smashing into the back of the Ferrari in the middle of the famous Monaco tunnel.

The incident meant that Norris had his lap compromised, leaving him to start in tenth place at the back of the Q3 pack. After the penalty, Leclerc will start yet another home race at a disadvantage. Instead of leading the second row, he will now drop all the way down to sixth place. In a track like Monaco, every position is worth much more than in many other tracks where overtaking would be easier.

In the FIA statement about Leclerc's penalty, they said that the Ferrari driver "had finished his final lap of Q3 and was in the Turn 4 through Turn 10 complex. Norris was on a fast lap and caught Leclerc in the middle of the tunnel and was clearly impeded."

Ironically, the statement added that "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."

Furthermore, the stewards admitted that Leclerc reacted "in a sensible way" after having been shown the blue flag. Despite this, the Stewards still deemed it necessary to penalise Leclerc mostly for the team's failure to warn him about the flying McLaren.

The team radio conversations between Leclerc and his engineers also proved that they were focused on their own lap times and were more worried about how he fared compared to front-runners like Max Verstappen, who eventually took pole.

They were certainly not out to deliberately impede Norris, who was not expected to beat the Ferraris. If anything, the problem was that the team warned Leclerc about Norris' approach too late.

"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," read the FIA decision.

If Ferrari had been paying more attention to what was happening behind Leclerc, they should have been able to provide instructions that would have helped him get out of the way of the McLaren before entering the tunnel where he no longer had any safe options.

The stewards felt that Norris coming in on a flying lap was clear in the data available to all teams, and there was no reason why Ferrari could not have known about his approach.

Norris also admitted that considering the circumstances at the tunnel, Leclerc "did what he could." However, he thinks the team could have done more to help their driver. The Briton reviewed the Ferrari radio and found out that they were mostly just concerned about the battle for pole position. "They're just telling him about Verstappen's lap and giving him live updates, rather than concentrating on who's behind him, which I don't really understand," said Norris.

McLaren team principal Andrea Stella was also sympathetic to Ferrari, noting that in the heat of the moment in Q3, there are so many things going on that sometimes things slip through the cracks. "I suppose he was just not informed by the team. Because otherwise it was a little too obvious. to be on the racing line under the tunnel, it's very dangerous," he said, as quoted by