Motor racing-Leclerc handed three-place grid drop at home Monaco GP

Formula One F1 - Formula One F1 - Monaco Grand Prix - Circuit de Monaco, Monte Carlo, Monaco - May 27, 2023 Ferrari's Charles Leclerc during qualifying REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

MONACO (Reuters) - Ferrari's Charles Leclerc was handed a three-place grid drop for his home Monaco Grand Prix for impeding McLaren's Lando Norris in qualifying on Saturday, meaning he will start sixth instead of third.

The penalty means also that Alpine's Esteban Ocon moves up to third and Ferrari's Carlos Sainz will start fourth.

Mercedes' seven-times Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will start fifth.

"Norris was on a fast lap and caught Leclerc in the middle of the tunnel and was clearly impeded," 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" they added.

"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."

The stewards said, however, that Ferrari had not warned Leclerc about Norris' approach until the Briton was already directly behind.

"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," they added.

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

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)

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