Lance Stroll, Racing Point, Autodromo do Algarve, 2020

F1 drivers told no changes to penalty points for track limits this year

2020 Portuguese Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers have been told they will continue to receive penalty points for track limits violations at least until the end of this season.

Several drivers have complained that penalty points should not be issued for incidents which do not put others at risk, such as track limits infringements. However Formula 1 race director Michael Masi says the criteria for issuing penalty points will not be changed mid-season.

“This has been discussed with all of the drivers involved,” he explained. “At the start of each year the FIA, together with all of the team sporting directors, sit down and review the penalty table and penalty guidelines that the stewards use and generally come to a consensus on the penalties and the associated penalty points.”

The criteria for awarding penalty points “get reviewed annually for their relevance overall”, said Masi. “We have discussed it at drivers meetings and said we will do the same review again for 2021. However, it’s not something that we would change mid-year through the middle of a championship.”

This has been made clear to the drivers, he said. “The drivers have all been told there would be no change for the year. It would be bad governance.”

Three drivers were given penalty points for repeatedly exceeding track limits during yesterday’s Portuguese Grand Prix: Lance Stroll, Romain Grosjean and Daniil Kvyat.

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    18 comments on “F1 drivers told no changes to penalty points for track limits this year”

    1. He’s right about it being bad governance to change the rules mid-season. That didn’t stop them from doing it against Mercedes’ engine modes though.

      1. Techincal rules change falls under FIA/Todt not Masi/FOM.

        1. Chaitanya They work for the same people.

        2. F1 Race Director is a FIA position…at least it was under Charlie Whiting and I don’t believe it has changed since.

    2. But when penalty points apply for 12 months, its pretty much irrelevant when you change the rule. The accumulation could just as likely screw someone over at the start of next season, even if points aren’t handed out specifically for track limits next season.

      1. Normally yes. But then, we had quite a few driver whose points ran out/down over the months we were waiting to get the first race going @eurobrun.

      2. But does the rule need changing? Certainly it should not be too much to ask the best drivers in the world to drive within track limits?

        1. @gpfacts given that the drivers also receive a time penalty if they are deemed to have cut the track too many times, is imposing an additional points penalty on top of that disproportionate to the scale of the offence?

        2. I think time penalty is enough for repeated cutting, and as it’s not awarded for the first occasions it’s at about right. So imo with some exceptions like Sochi and Portimao time penalties for cutting were sufficiently rare, and therefore not so restrictive. But now they introduced penalty points, and those should be reserved for creating dangerous situations or even more severe events. I would only award penalty points for unsafe rejoins. For repeated cutting there could be a 10s penalty instead of 5s. Although I don’t exceptionally like small time penalties as on track position worths more than a few seconds, and therefore sometimes a small time penalty is not so hard, but at a dense field it can cause dropping a lot of positions at the final placements of a GP as well. So instead of small time penalties I would like to see “give the position back” or “give back the time you gained with that cut” type penalties especially for cuts when it happened in wheel to wheel battle. But those often are hard to judge and the decision often takes a lot of time, and those decisions should be faster, the stewards should be supported more with techology. The other problem is when a competitor can keep his position and handed a time penalty, is that he can build a gap after the incident and eliminate the effect of the penalty, compared to the situation of his follower, who will drive in dirty air even if he can keep up. And these drivers are very sophisticated, and can even mimicking an “unavoidable” cut, for example these difficult situations would require quite fast and accurate telemetry analysis. So imo in today’s very optimized world on track position is very precious, and even after quite amazing build ups of the mid race situation we very often see that almost all of the competitors manage their gaps to the followers very well.

        3. And I think changing tech rules mid-season is worse than changing behavior or on track behavior-related rules mid-season. Tech rules should be quite firm throughout a particular season as development costs are very high, so the main reason should be safety for a mid-season tech rule change. While human nature is very adaptive, but these adaptations can be hacky or only comply with the letter of the rules so behavior-related rule changes can be more acceptable to me.
          Cut rules mostly fell into the behavior-related category to me.

    3. I think there is a counter to Masi’s suggestion the drivers agreed to this. That would have been the drivers agreeing to the penalty being applied to this offense with them thinking in all likelihood about drivers cutting corners or the odd rare case of running wide off track that happens at some tracks. Instead though, this year we seem to have had a track limits monitored corner at every race and it feels far more than normal.

      Maybe one for the stats to figure out the number of lap times deleted this year or penalties issued for track limits and how it compares. Like the amount of safety cars we were getting, it feels like the FIA have taken a stricter view on the situation this year as a casual observer so I wonder if the stats prove that. I’m not against the enforcement of track limits in the way they have this year but if there have been far more instances then perhaps this was an issue that was not perceived before now by the drivers.

      1. @slowmo I think that is the crux of the matter, if the drivers agreed with it then they have nowhere to go unless they can prove that what they were told is wrong. On that basis they are just going to have to suck it up.

        I am a little more concerned about the length of the points being on the license for this year. What I mean here is that points accumulated early this season will need to be carried for more races before they come off due to the compressed nature of this season. Normally you would carry points for 20-22 races but it could be upto 28-30 for points collected at Austria this year depending on how the calendar looks next year.

        1. @chimaera2003 The points coming off after one calendar year is an arbitrary timescale anyway. It doesn’t reflect how often the driver is racing and therefore how regularly they are ‘reckless’ or ‘dangerous’. It should be a set number of races/events participated in – say 20 races – which would then be consistent whether the race schedule changed or the driver were to miss races for any reason.

    4. Safety first except on the first lap. You can kill another driver and it would be 1st lap no investigation needed.

      1. Yep thats the logic even if certain red cars are shedding parts risking lives of other drivers on track.

    5. Pretty stupid to give penalty point for non dangerous track limits violations.

      Time penalty after multiple violations is fine, since you’re gaining an advantage. Penalty points should be for dangerous incidents.

      1. If you can’t keep the car on the track, you’re a danger to yourself and other people.

        Really this idea that penalty points should only be for ‘dangerous incidents’ is a red herring. The majority of sporting infractions that can be punished by penalty points are safety-related.

    6. I think a lot of people are forgetting the purpose behind the penalty points system. It was introduced to stop drivers from *repeatedly* breaking/bending the rules, race after race. As an example: if Lewis Hamilton were to purposely cut a corner while leading a race, giving him a 1-second advantage for that lap to keep a rival behind at a crucial moment mid-race (say, before a pit stop), he would be given a penalty. Let’s say it’s 5 seconds. The penalty takes away more than what he gained. So that’s enough for most drivers to keep the car on the track.

      But Hamilton is special. When you can win the race with a 20-second gap over the 2nd place driver, you can afford to waste 5 seconds if it keeps your lead. So, in the end, he didn’t really get penalized. A 5-second penalty, one time, for one infraction, is sufficient for most. But then he could do it again in the next race. And the next race. And then next.

      He’s still getting penalties, but it’s not having the desired effect of stopping the rule-breaking. That’s where the penalty points come in. Let’s say he’s ALSO given 3 points for each infraction, because it’s obvious it was done intentionally to win the race. Now if he does it a fourth time, he’s banned from a race.

      They’re not just punishing the act, but also *discouraging repeat offences*. THAT’S what the penalty points are for. Not to punish for the individual act, but to punish for the continued trend. Remember that the penalty system was introduced after a string of incidents in 2012 and 2013 (mostly from Grosjean and Maldonado) that were simply not being sufficiently handled by the penalty system at the time.

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