Charles Leclerc was fine by F1 Japanese GP penalty in fight against Charles Leclerc, but Mattia Binotto didn’t think it was right.

In light of Max Verstappen’s second WDC and the narrow escape for Pierre Gasly, there was a titanic battle between Perez in the second Red Bull and Leclerc in the lead and sole remaining Ferrari after Carlos Sainz’s early demise in F1 Japanese GP.

It was a good close fight for multiple laps which eventually saw the Monegasque make an error while defending Perez at the final corner on the final lap and as a result a five second penalty demoted Leclerc and handed Red Bull their fifth 1-2 of the campaign.

For Perez, it was his seventh runners up spot in this campaign, assisted of course by the Leclerc penalty. It also moved him a point ahead of the Monegasque in the fight for runners-up spot, which is the next best fight remaining in the 2022 F1 season.

“It was a nice battle again,” said Perez. “I think it was really tricky to overtake without DRS. I had to place it into 11 and out of 14 on the way to 17 on the back straight but those places were where Charles was actually strong. I could see that he was managing well his race, his tyres once he ran out of them”.

“And he was making it really hard, you know, so I knew that the only way I could get him was if I push him into a mistake, and yeah, towards the end, I thought there was one more lap left so when he went off, I thought that was going to be the opportunity. But it didn’t happen and we managed to get a good result for the team. And a great one-two.”

It was a well judged chase by Perez where he just never gave up and his efforts bore fruition. As it was, Leclerc was philosophical and straightforward after the race, noting that the penalty was fine for him leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

“Well, I don’t have much to say,” Leclerc said. “Yeah, I did a mistake, tried to minimise it obviously by trying to go straight… I was not aware this was the last lap but five seconds penalty was the right thing to do to be honest.”

Leclerc could be forgiven for being too dedicated in terms of concentration to the task in hand. The Ferrari itself appears to have been a mixed bag, not dissimilar to Singapore, being competitive after the restart of the Grand Prix but then appeared not to have the pace once more.

“We were very fast for four or five laps but unfortunately the race was a bit longer than that and the front were just gone after four or five laps and after that it was all about trying to survive until the end of the race,” said Leclerc. “The end of the race was extremely difficult”.

“Obviously Checo was putting quite a bit of pressure behind and I was really, really struggling with both of my front tyres so yeah, at the end, I ended up making a mistake but we were really, struggling,” summed up Leclerc.

While Leclerc felt his penalty was deservedly received, team boss Mattia Binotto has a different view on the matter. The Italian was disappointed by the quick judgement considering the Singapore weekend saw hours gone before anything against Perez.

“Very surprised and very disappointed,” said Binotto. “The reason why is I think that seven days after Singapore, where they took so many laps to decide and then after the race, we had to hear the drivers to take a simple decision which was straightforward, today they took it in a few seconds. Surprised by such different behaviours between Singapore and here, after only a few days”.

“Was the decision of a five-second penalty right or wrong? In our view, he honestly didn’t gain the advantage, he was ahead, he stayed ahead, he’s got the gap, he kept the same gap. So still arguable, but that is the way they decided, which we will accept. But certainly very frustrating to see such different timing in decisions seven days after, and at least in such a situation where you are not listening to the drivers where you are doing in Singapore, or vice-versa, no?”

“If you go straight for the decision as they are obvious, as they should be, five seconds at least penalty in Singapore should have been given immediately, which would have given us the opportunity to manage certainly a lot differently the situation, and it could have been a potential victory. So somehow frustrated and disappointed by that as well,” summed up Binotto.

Here’s fight between Sergio Perez and Charles Leclerc:

Here’s Sergio Perez, Charles Leclerc on tractor issue

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