Sebastian Vettel, Spa-Francorchamps, Ferrari, 2019

Vettel has scored most penalty points of any driver since they were introduced

2019 F1 season

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Sebastian Vettel has overtaken Max Verstappen and Romain Grosjean to become the Formula 1 driver who has scored the most penalty points since the system was introduced.

The Ferrari driver was given three penalty points on his licence for causing a collision with Lance Stroll when he pulled onto the track in the middle of Monza’s Ascari chicane last weekend.

Vettel has now amassed a total of 24 penalty points for 10 separate offences. Verstappen and Grosjean have scored 21 each.

Like Vettel, Grosjean has contested every season under the penalty points system. The others are Lewis Hamilton (six points), Daniel Ricciardo (seven), Kimi Raikkonen (10), Valtteri Bottas (12), Nico Hulkenberg (14) and Sergio Perez (16).

No Formula 1 driver has ever reached 12 penalty points within a 12-month period, which would result in an automatic one-race ban. Vettel is on nine points for the current period.

He is not due to have any penalty points deducted until October 20th. Therefore if Vettel earns three penalty points over the next three races in Singapore, Russia and Japan, he will incur a one-race ban.

Earlier this year Formula 2 driver Mahaveer Raghunathan was banned for one event after exceeding 12 penalty points in nine races. He has since returned to racing and is now four penalty points away from a second ban.

Sebastian Vettel’s penalty points to date

2015 Canadian Grand PrixThird practiceOvertook Roberto Merhi under red flagsFive-place grid drop3
2016 British Grand PrixRaceForced Felipe Massa off the trackFive-second time penalty2
2016 Malaysian Grand PrixRaceCaused a collision with Nico RosbergThree-place grid drop2
2016 Mexican Grand PrixRaceAbnormal change of position while defendingTen-second time penalty2
2017 Azerbaijan Grand PrixRaceCaused a collision with Lewis HamiltonTen-second stop-go penalty3
2018 French Grand PrixRaceInvolved in an incident with Valtteri BottasFive-second time penalty2
2018 Austrian Grand PrixQualifyingImpeded Carlos Sainz JnrThree-place grid drop1
2018 United States Grand PrixFirst practiceFailed to reduce speed significantly under red flagThree-place grid drop2
2019 Canadian Grand PrixRaceRejoined the track when it was not safe to do soFive-second time penalty2
2019 British Grand PrixRaceCaused a collision with Max Verstappen10-second time penalty2
2019 Italian Grand PrixRaceRejoined the track when it was not safe to do soTen-second stop-go penalty3

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Drivers’ penalty points totals since 2014

*Season to date

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2019 F1 season

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Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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84 comments on “Vettel has scored most penalty points of any driver since they were introduced”

  1. well if you add all of them on it would vault him up to third in the championship (but not if you let Verstappen have his too). On the other hand it’s only 7 this season so he’d still be 6 behind Leclerc.

  2. Another record he wont be proud off. He also has record for fastest penalty on debut in F1.

    1. Speeding in the pit lane, right?

  3. Well that makes sense given his driver profile. Fast on an empty track, bad in traffic.

    1. He’s not that bad in traffic…. he’s quite good in following others but sucks when he’s challenged by others….

      1. Nonsense, he’s horrible in traffic or any type of racecraft

        1. Errrr. Not sure what horrible is?

  4. Vettel hasn’t been able to focus on his last couple of years, the penalties reflect that. It’s very weird.

    1. It seems the data shows Grosjean has been unfairly treated

    2. @eljueta He drove just as poorly before, but then there were no penalty points.

      Feels like the actual penalties were a lot harsher back then though. For instance for slamming into Kubica in the opening race of 2009 he received a 10 place grid drop. Nowadays he barely gets a penalty for stuff like that.

      Although those two zero point finishes at the start of the 2009 season cost him the championship in the end. So it did cost him back then just like 2017 and 2018. Just not directly from the stewards.

  5. who is Ferrari’s back-up driver if Sebastian is banned for a race? Kimi???

    1. Animesh Kishore
      14th September 2019, 9:12

      There’s an outside chance for Alonso to step in. He clearly wants it and is available.

      Would be something, isn’t it.

    2. Wehrlein or Hartley I think

    3. Good question, in the Ferrari website, other drivers are listed as: Antonio Fuoco, Giovinazzi, Hartley, Davide Rigon, and Pascal Wehrlein. Out of these, I’d like to see Wehrlein make a comeback to F1 the most.

  6. Those 2 points in the 2016 mexican gp are just ridiculous. Shouldn’t even have been a penalty. That was some of the best hard racing ever.

    1. Ironically those came about due to a reinterpretation of the rules following complaints about Max Verstappen’s driving in Belgium from… Ferrari drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel.

      1. @keithcollantine and austria came from Canada’s hysteria.

        1. @peartree
          Austria should not have been investigated at all, since there was absolutely nothing wrong with that move, according to me and to every proper ex driver.
          (Same goes (to a bit lesser entent) for Canada)

          1. Just to be clear we’re talking max on lec, not getting a penalty because of ham vet in canada, the irony. @drycrust

      2. I have never agreed with the Stewards decision about that incident. How can a guy on the racing line and half a car length ahead be given a penalty for colliding with someone off the racing line and half a car length behind? Riccardo was trying to overtake Vettel, but attempting to overtake doesn’t mean you have an automatic right to be ahead. Nevertheless, the Stewards decided that being half a car length behind and off the racing line gave Riccardo the right to be ahead of Vettel. Riccardo wasn’t even completely alongside Vettel, Vettel was half a car length ahead and on the racing line. Riccardo should have backed off because the onus is on him to overtake safely, but he didn’t and there was a collision.
        As for Verstappen driving across the grass, what a joke!
        Here’s a link to the video, but it can make your blood boil.

        1. @drycrust Like Keith said, the rules (or interpretation thereof) was changed specifically to disallow a dirty defense like that. This change came about because Vettel and Raikkonen kept calling for it (in cases when Verstappen did the same).

          It’s just pure karma that Vettel is the only one ever getting a penalty for it

          They scrapped this interpretation again after this incident. So yes before that race and since that race this penalty would not be given.

    2. @Initially & @drycrust — Totally agree. Actually, it’s a great showcase for the pundits of how precise and safe he can be under pressure when he feels the car is at his hands.

      Also, after the post-race interviews, I lost great respect for Danny Ric that day. His moaning was just ridiculous. Could’ve been gracious of the brilliant battle they had and yet even being compliant of the rules, but chose the safe way.

  7. He won’t get a ban unless he does something really, really dangerous though. The stewards had the opportunity to ban Grosjean when he committed an offence which would usually earn penalty points, but chose not to give him points on that occasion, so I think the stewards will err on the side of not banning a driver if they have the option.

    I don’t think Vettel is inherently a dangerous driver, he has just accumulated a lot of penalty points for mostly small, silly mistakes (Baku road rage incident notwithstanding).

    1. Yes, tbh penalty points are absolutely worthless, there’s never been a race ban so far, say there was one coming soon, what would it change? After that points are reset, it will take years to get another ban and with how “close” titles have been lately it’s not gonna be title deciding ever!

    2. @keithedin well remembered!
      I hope VET gets the ban, though. I believe he really needs a forced break to reset.

    3. @keithedin Vettel was in the same situation before:

      Wasn’t there an other one too?

  8. @keithcollantine For sure Vettel has accumulated lots of penalty points, but I think this chart is a bit misleading and people are of course drawing conclusions from that. A better comparison would have been the average penalty points scored per race started.

    Here’s how that stat looks:

    Vettel is still up there, but not first. I made it quickly so sorry if I made mistakes (in that case, I’ll be glad to fix it: numbers used are visible in the screenshot). Source is Wikipedia.

    1. And that is how you get the name Crashtappen. Thanks for making this.

      1. You do not receive penalty points for crashing. If so LEC would have passed all others already.

      2. @flashofsilver
        And if you take away all the nonsense points, basically most of them bar Hungary 2015, Ricciardo in Hungary, Vettel in China and Kimi in Suzuka, it all looks very different and you can see why the old guard, with a proper sense of F1 history, love him so much and rate him so high.

    2. @m-bagattini The data in paragraph four gives that context.

      1. @keithcollantine I’m sorry but I disagree

  9. i dont get penalty points pretty much like the black and white flag. whats the point if a driver collects soo many points over the years but still breaks the rules but nothing really happens to them. from 2014 till now and nothing… really?! thats all silly. in my opinion penalty points should be for a single championship year. black and white flag should be carried over to every race. once recieved 2nd b& w flag some sort of penalty must be given.

    1. Black and white flag reasoning seeme obvious to me. It is similar (though obviously not the same) a yellow card in football, it is a warning that stewards don’t like what your doing and repeating it will earn you punishment.

      1. So at least a flag should mean one penalty point.

        1. Hey that’s a great idea!

  10. In your face Madolnado

    1. @johnmilk so funny:-) thanks for that!

  11. Sergio Perez didn’t drive every season since the points system was established?

    1. @mxmxd Good point – added him in.

  12. If Vettel got a race ban, who would Ferrari put in his seat?

    1. Alonso
      Kimi, and try some rookie at Alfa
      Robert Shwartzman results quite impressive yet, leading F3 this year, and regular podiums at development seriers seasons. Looks like he knows how to win. But of course from F3 hes maybe risky to throw in. And then what do you do with Mick Schumacher, the other Ferrari Academist, with obviously good chances. Marcus Armstrong is quite good either. But they are not experineced enough yet imo for a jump-in debut.
      If i were them i’d try Nyck de Vries. He developed a bit slowly, but who knows. It would be better for F2 and for him to stay there than going to Formula-E as an only oportunity. Formula-E has a strong competition, and we seen many good drivers burnt there.

      1. or some Indy star if that happens for the USA Gp

    2. I’d guess Raikonnen, and Marucs Ericson would get the call up once again from Indy to cover his seat at Alfa.

  13. Good case study for bias, there’s maybe 7 points in there that are hard to explain. Good riddance, win less 4 titles in a row.

  14. 10 second stop go penalty for spinning by himself and rejoining the track in front of another car and causing a mild collision.

    10 second stop go penalty for driving alongside another car, under safety car conditions, and deliberately making his car contact that car.

    I still get frustrated how relatively lax that second penalty was. If there was ever a time to use a black flag, that was it. However, assuming that was the correct punishment for that behaviour, it makes the first penalty seem overly harsh.

    1. I don’t think so, it was much more dangerous what he did with stroll.

      1. @esploratore Yes and probably both are considered to have been deliberate

  15. Honestly, there are a lot of memorable football players who collected a lot of yellow cards, and barely a red one.

  16. No mention of Maldonado’s 2000 points…..

  17. Ten points for Kimi? The guy’s the epitome of ‘fair’ and ‘law abiding’.
    System must be faulty.

    1. Kimi’s done all five-and-a-bit seasons since this system was implemented. That’s two points (one standard-grade offence) per completed season even if we don’t give him any leeway for this partially-completed season. He’s occasionally had three points for a completely out-of-character collision (I think he got 3 points for hitting Max Chilton once) which also skews his penalties – in fact, I think he’s only had 4 incidents which attracted any penalty points at all. Not many drivers have a better batting average and Kimi could be proud of it if he was the sort of man to be proud of something he probably sees as simply part of his job.

    2. Islander, the list of races where Kimi has been given a penalty are as follows:
      2018 British GP – 2 points (collision with Hamilton)
      2017 Belgian GP – 3 points (speeding in yellow flag zone)
      2016 European GP – 2 points (cutting across the pit entry line to rejoin the track)
      2015 Russian GP – 3 points (colliding with Bottas)

      1. Thanks Anon
        yeah that crash in Sochi when Bottas said he didn’t see Kimi coming [he was only close chasing him for a dozen laps] he could have avoided contact by turning in and leaving room, then get Kimi on the straight with the much faster car he had. But no. And Kimi should not have got any penalty for a racing incident. IIRC Derek Warwick was involved …

        1. Islander, when you look at the footage from both the aerial shots and the onboard shots, Kimi was trying to make that move work from several car lengths behind Bottas and on a quite tight line on the entry of that corner.

          From the distance and the angle that Kimi was trying to make that move from, he’s in a quite difficult spot for another driver to try and see him coming and his move felt more like an attempt at a block pass. You might say that “The guy’s the epitome of ‘fair’ and ‘law abiding’.”, but that does not make him infallible and in that situation I feel that it was Kimi who was ultimately in a better position to avoid causing the collision, given Bottas did not alter his line or otherwise act in an erratic manner.

      2. And if we look closely, half of those penalties were rubbish: pure technicality, nitpicking at its pure state. And at Russia he got 30 secs penalty, which was harsh. The only one fit was at the British GP, which makes me consider how the Ferrari drivers must be at the edge with their cars to challenge the Mercedes since then, because RAI is a really safe driver to be around.

  18. A bit funny that he got the same penalty for his incident with Stroll in the last race as he received for the infamous clash with LH in the 2017 Azerbaijan GP. The more recent case out of the two was definitely quite a lot worse, and yet both were treated as severely.

    BTW, October 19th actually since that was the practice day for the US GP last season, and it was FP1 in which he committed the red flag-stoppage offense.

    1. You think the most recent clash is worse than deliberately driving into another car, under safety car conditions?


      1. Maximum of three points for one incident makes it. If maximum was something like six, then it would be more logical. Baku incident could be worth of maximum and Monza incident slightly more serious than normal crash – three points would be good. Then something like Spa start crash caused by Hülkenberg last season would be somewhere between those two.

        1. @blue Technically, the maximum is 8.

          If Vettel crashes again and the maximum penalty is awarded, he gets 3 points…

          …which triggers a ban. Anyone getting a ban also “earns” 5 points towards the next ban.

  19. So Vettel has 400% of the penalty points Hamilton has in the same time period?

    That says all that needs saying.

    1. @sham rolling at the front all this time has its benefits.

      1. @nieferNeither Vettel nor Hamilton did that though.

  20. What I find remarkable about the list of most penalized drivers is the notable absence of Daniel Ricciardo. Statistically speaking, given he has been in F1 for the entirety of the point system, been on pole only 3 times in his career, had an average career grid position of 10th, and is widely regarded as one of the best overtakers, the number of opportunities to mess up one of those passes and get a penalty is pretty high. The fact he hasn’t incurred much in the way of penalties mean his passes and driving are remarkably clean. Well done, Danny Ric.

    1. He received two points for his actions in france..
      And he is not clean also. But mostly he is very correct indeed.

      1. He has 7 total points since 2014. The only driver who has competed in the same number of races with fewer points is Lewis, who has typically raced from the front of the grid and had to pass fewer cars on track for position than Ricciardo, who typically starts mid pack. I would consider that a pretty remarkable stat and evidence of overall clean driving while overtaking and while being overtaken.

        1. Yes, also ricciardo had an unusually low crash record, he was being compared to verstappen and people noticed verstappen wasn’t much different to senna and schumacher and that ricciardo was the anomaly, not him.

  21. Typical rubbish from reporters who have no idea about data and statistics!
    You’ve provided just raw data and failed to normalise it.

    Of course if he’s raced longer and in more races than other drivers he’s had more opportunity to gather points whether a bad boy or not.

    Its down to you but for real comparison I’d suggest you present it as track km per point, or points per race. That would be a fare stat to compare drivers!

    1. The points statuses for all other drivers doing the same number of races was also provided.

      Hamilton – 6 (Difference from mean is 6 – 13.75 = -6.75)
      Ricciardo – 7 (Difference from mean is 7 – 13.75 = -5.75)
      Raikkonen – 10 (Difference from mean is 10 – 13.75 = -3.75)
      Bottas – 12 (Difference from mean is 12 – 13.75 = -1.75)
      Hulkenberg – 14 (Difference from mean is 14 – 13.75 = 0.25)
      Perez – 16 (Difference from mean is 16 – 13.75 = 2.75)
      Grosjean – 21 (Difference from mean is 21 – 13.75 = 7.75)
      Vettel – 24 (Difference from mean is 24 – 13.75 = 10.75)

      The average (mean) point score with Vettel is (110 points / 8 drivers) = 13.75 points.
      The average (median) point score with Vettel is (4th + 5th driver / 2) = 13 points.
      Standard deviation (population method used) is 6.312 points.
      Vettel is (24 – 13.75 / 6.312) = 1.62 standard deviations away from the average for people who have done the same number of races as he has.

      The average (mean) point score without Vettel is (86 / 7 drivers) = 12.285 points
      The average (median) point score without Vettel is (4th driver) = 12 points.

      So Vettel is significantly outside what would be expected of a driver in this experienced group, and is in fact making the typical driving standard within it look 1.5 points (three-quarters of a standard offence across the five-and-a-bit year period) worse than it otherwise would.

      The strange thing about all this is that Vettel is usually a trustworthy, clean driver. It’s just that when he gets it wrong, he tends to get it very wrong, and thus obtain the maximum three points for his offences.

      1. Great analysis except for the last paragraph. Vettel has always been accident and crash prone. He threw away any chance of winning the 2009 championship, and tried to do so with the 2010 and 2012 championships and did a good job in throwing away the 2017 and 18 championships, as well as caused many many collisions. He is, as the numbers clearly reveal, the dirtiest driver on the grid.

    2. @Martin Elliott I hope this is sufficiently normalised for you.

    3. I think Mr. Collantine assumes that his public knows that Sebastian Vettel, along with a few other drivers, participated in every race since this system was established.

      Besides, I don’t think you’re realizing how patently absurd it would be to manually count the exact number of Track KM driven by each driver since the establishement of the point system.

  22. Oh yeah! Another anti-Vettel article on this website :) woo! Oh and yes, just facts. Misleading of course!

    1. @thedoctor03 I would just love for you to explain how these statistics are misleading.

  23. Penalty points means nothing if there is no actual penalty in the race. Crash-tappen can laugh about this type of points, since he’s never given real penalties in his day to day “race incidents”.
    So he can continue laughing in the face of everybody and touching all the other drivers in the real life videogame.

  24. bUt BuT hE HaS 4 wOrLd TiTlEs aNd As wE aLl KnOw ChAmPiOnsHips iS AlL aBoUt SkiLl aNd NoThInG tO dO wItH tHe cAr

  25. For me the penalty points are a bit flawed in their implementation.

    It seems the stewards will often give 2 points for minor incidents that the drivers shouldn’t be getting them for. However, when it comes to major incidents, say the Vettel road rage incident in Baku, they only get 3? So a 1 point difference… To me, penalty points should only be given for relatively big misdemeanors and in those cases maybe more than 3 should be given.

    1. @burden93 Exactly. Causing 2 major incidents over say a 6 month span should be enough for a race ban. That’s how it was for Hakkinen and Grosjean.

      Instead drivers (in this case Vettel) can cause 3 major incidents over 12 months and still nothing happens.

  26. He was also the first WDC that failed to win a race in a car capable of it.

  27. The point system is a joke. Grosjean only avoided a race-ban, because they gave him a pass in Abu Dhabi, when he toppled Hülkenberg after coming back from out of bounds in Hülkenberg’s blind spot. That was worthy of both a black flag and 3 points…

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