Lando Norris, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2021

F1’s penalty points are not “harsh” and won’t be reviewed this year – Masi

2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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Formula 1’s penalty points scale was approved by teams as recently as last year, race director Michael Masi has said, following criticism of the system at the Austrian Grand Prix.

Nine drivers collected a total of 19 penalty points for a range of different incidents. One of them, Lando Norris, moved onto a total of 10 – two shy of an automatic ban – but will fall to eight ahead of the next round of the championship.

McLaren team principal Andreas Seidl said Norris did not deserve to risk a ban over the incident he was penalised for with Perez. The stewards ruled Norris did not leave enough room for the Red Bull at the exit of the corner.

“From my point of view it needs a review because I think we all agree that for an incident like [that], getting a race ban as a consequence can’t be the right thing and that’s it,” said Seidl.

Lando Norris, McLaren, Red Bull Ring, 2021
Report: “Stupid” penalty points system is not what F1 should be – Norris
“[To] get the penalty points for it and the risk to get a race ban as a consequence of something like that, I just think he needs a review of the entire system or process,” he added.

Norris isn’t the only driver who will have to keep an eye on his rising tally over the coming races. Sergio Perez will also arrive at the British Grand Prix with eight points on his licence. Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Nicholas Latifi are halfway towards automatic bans after the last race.

However Masi rejected claims the system is “harsh”. He said the current scale for awarding penalty points had been reviewed and agreed with teams late last year and would not be changed during the season.

“To be fair, it’s a penalty point system that exists, so it’s been there all the way through,” he said. “No different to those driving on the road and a lot of countries that have the maximum number of points that they have to abide by and they have to adjust driving style and so forth accordingly. So, no, I don’t think they’re harsh.

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“It was discussed late last year and it’s funny because it affects different drivers and different teams in different ways and the consensus was at the end of last year involving everyone – teams, the FIA and F1 – that there shouldn’t be a change for this year. And it’s not something that we would ever change mid-year.

“So the penalty scale is something that the teams all agree upon and actually have input into at the start of the year, that is what the stewards use.”

In 2019 Max Verstappen joined FIA stewards at a Formula E event in Morocco to observe how they handle incidents during race weekends, as punishment for an altercation with Esteban Ocon in the previous year’s Brazilian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver does not agree Norris’ incident with his team mate should have earned him two penalty points. “So if you would have six of these incidents… I don’t think you deserve a ban for what he did or whatever,” said Verstappen. “I think it’s just not correct.”

Penalties issued during the Austrian Grand Prix

DriverTeamSessionInfringementPenaltyPenalty Points
Sebastian VettelAston MartinQImpedingThree-place grid drop1
Antonio GiovinazziAlfa RomeoROvertook under the Safety CarFive-second time penalty2
Lando NorrisMcLarenRForced another driver off the trackFive-second time penalty2
Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauriRCrossed the white line at pit entryFive-second time penalty1
Sergio PerezRed BullRForced another driver off the trackFive-second time penalty2
Sergio PerezRed BullRForced another driver off the trackFive-second time penalty2
Lance StrollAston MartinRPit lane speedingFive-second time penalty0
Yuki TsunodaAlphaTauriRCrossed the white line at pit entryFive-second time penalty1
Kimi RaikkonenAlfa RomeoRCaused a collisionDrive-through penalty2
Nicholas LatifiWilliamsRDouble waved yellow flag speeding10-second stop-go penalty3
Nikita MazepinHaasRDouble waved yellow flag speeding10-second stop-go penalty3

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2021 Austrian Grand Prix

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29 comments on “F1’s penalty points are not “harsh” and won’t be reviewed this year – Masi”

  1. Adam (@rocketpanda)
    6th July 2021, 12:08

    It’s not harsh it’s imbalanced. You can get the same amount of points for a trivial infraction or even one that was caused by the team and not the driver as you can for literally driving into someone and DNF’ing them. This is made even worse because of inconsistent stewarding where you can be punished for doing something one weekend and then not on the next. The system itself is a good idea but at the moment it’s a precise instrument being wielded as a blunt one.

    1. Great comment. They really need to listen to the drivers and teams AND fans on this. Nobody was really all too happy with Austria there. I forget about the penalty points as well and these incidents just shouldn’t qualify. Racing incidents that are hotly disputed to even be penalty worthy at the time do not deserve to build up to a race ban.

      Race bans should be for properly dangerous and intentional activity (like Vettel bashing Hamilton at Baku).

      1. Indeed @davidhunter13 and @rocketpanda; once again, this Masi statements feels like a cop-out: yes, the rules were the same, but since the way the stewards (and he) decide who/what/how to decide on penalties (let’s not forget that it’s at the same track two years ago the ‘let them race’ bit was born, apparently now sort of left by the wayside?) remains less than obviously clear and unchanged.

      2. Exactly, I think so too, personally, and I’m talking about penalties only, not points, I’d have given a penalty only for first leclerc one, no penalty points for any of the 3.

    2. even one that was caused by the team

      Give me an example.

      1. From memory, a loose wheel nut, a car released from the pit box and into the path of a car moving down the pit lane, a different wheel type fitted to the car from the other 3 wheels, fitting the other car’s tyres to a car, practising your race start procedure at the place the team said was the right place but wasn’t (or at least the Stewards claimed it wasn’t the right place).
        I’m sure there are many people who can give you many better examples than these.

  2. For once, I actually agree with him; mostly. The system is there to give a proper punishment to any driver who is consistently dangerous or somewhat incompetent. Some penalties seem silly, such as Gasly in the incorrect grid position, but imagine if he did it every race. He won’t of course, but if he did it 6 times, he’d receive a ban, which I think is fair. The same with Tsunoda crossing the white line…

    Despite some very questionable driving at times over the last 5 years, we’re still yet to see a driver banned, so I’d argue the system is actually pretty good. If someone does get a ban for repeatedly bending or breaking rules then they surely deserve the punishment they all agreed to when they started the season.

    I should temper this by saying that some penalties do seem grossly unfair, such as Latifi in Baku, when he did exactly as his team requested and Williams should have received a punishment rather than him. I’d also like to see a little more consistency, but I think they’re generally better than people make out.

  3. Michael does know it’s the implementation rather than the theory to which teams and drivers are objecting, doesn’t he?

    1. Presumably that’s why he focuses on the official rules being reconfirmed and remaining last year rather than the implementation as it currently stands right @alianora-la-canta

    2. It’s probably got something to do with the fact that he doesn’t implement it. He’s not a steward and doesn’t make those judgements.
      And, of course, the fact that he’s always the one who has to answer questions as a representative of the FIA. The stewards can’t and don’t answer to the media – and rightfully so.

    3. His replacement can’t come soon enough.

      Whilst Charlie had his flaws, not listening to drivers’ concerns was not one of them.

      1. Always giving the teams and drivers what they want was what lead to F1 being in this mess in the first place.

        1. My god, this, a thousand times this.

          Reply moderated
  4. “To be fair, it’s a penalty point system that exists, so it’s been there all the way through,” he said. “No different to those driving on the road and a lot of countries that have the maximum number of points that they have to abide by and they have to adjust driving style and so forth accordingly. So, no, I don’t think they’re harsh.

    Crossing a line or not slowing down fast enough at 50 or 250 kph totally the same thing according to Michael Masi. I’d be amazed if the man is still on the job this time next year.

  5. It’s funny to see the shortcomings of F1 are reflected in the stewarding. It is therefore a bigger problem that needs to be addressed. That problem is that FIA and Liberty still do not listen to drivers nor fans. Liberty has all this F1 fan feedback / f1 Voice etc but that is just to tick a box that you have that instrument installed as a company (just like you need to shout something about inclusion… companies still do not understand that we notice when they are not sincere but feeding us socially accepted messaging – Ferrari & Mercedes are the epiphany of that imho with their reactive socially desired messaging). It matters what you do with the results (or actually it already starts with the questions which are poor and drowned with commercial motivation). So overall F1 is in a poor state which is moving away from the actual racing. Masi is contributing to this as well. Ignorant person imho, just the one you would pick for policing the circus… if you are an old school manager running the FOM. And that we have plenty off. There aren’t many industries that are as old fashioned as the automobile industry. Hierarchy, old boys network, the lot. Such a shame. F1 really has a lot of potential and it doesnt have to be so hard to run a proper show. Let’s hope the 2022 changes will bring something good but given they are introduced by exactly the wrong set of people I will wait before cheering.

    1. Liberty has all this F1 fan feedback / f1 Voice

      That is working like this.

      Do you like reversed grid starts
      A: Yes, excellent idea
      B: ik really like it
      C: its a nice change
      D: All of the above.

      Result to teams:
      As a result of or fan feedback we are proposing to try the reverse grid format.

  6. Its been clear enough to me for some time that the whole principle of Superlicense has fallen flat on its face. Who are the drivers most at risk, currently? Norris and Hamilton, if I’m not mistaken. All the penalty points have proven to be are a deterrent for racing. You have a safer formula one career staying in position and backing out of anything remotely risky than you do going out there and trying to make things the fans want to see happen.

    Beyond that indictment is the fact it hasn’t prevented drivers who aren’t up to scratch or aren’t ready for F1 being put in seats ahead of those more suited or capable but with perhaps less funding. At the end of the day, we have Mazepin in a seat, and while I’m not a Stroll detractor (the man can drive), he’s not there on merit. Latifi has matured nicely, but is he really worthy of a steady seat over other talent languishing in the junior formulas?

    To my mind the whole point of Superlicense was to ensure we ended up with a full grid of worthy races who were in the sport on merit; that we’d create a unified system of progression from international series into F1, providing equal opportunities to the most talented.

    This is demonstrably not the state of affairs in so many ways as to be laughable. With the weighting of superlicense points, it still massively favours those with greater financial backing who can afford to campaign international series. Sure we are giving some token points for TRS, regional formulas etc… But f2 with a full suite of sponsors is still highly favourable as a route to F1, and this isn’t on the table for many talented drivers. Then when we do get them to F1 we hang the sword of Damocles over their head with a penalty point system that punishes rookie mistakes and hard racing. I firmly believe with this current system, many legends of the sport’s history wouldn’t have survived in F1.

    Superlicense was a nice theory, and an experiment worth undertaking, but in a sport with so much money wrapped into it, and with things like the brutal turnover for Red Bull Junior drivers (would you hitch your kid’s karting career to them?), it simply doesn’t mesh at all, leaving us with subpar drivers safely money’d into their seats, eager entertaining drivers flirting with bans, and perfectly qualified, talented drivers booted to other series around the world.

    Reply moderated
    1. Current overview:
      https://f1statblog.co.uk/f1-penalty-points/

      Perez and hamilton at 8
      Norris at 10 ( but losing two before Silverstone, so on 8 then)

  7. I don’t have an issue with a penalty points system in principle, But I do think the way it is now is unbalanced, unjustified & overall not fit for purpose.

    Points should be reserved for dangerous behaviour & should be weighted in terms of severity & intent.

    Simple racing incidents that were neither dangerous or intentional don’t warrant 2 points & on the other side speeding in the pit lane deserves more than 0 as the pit speed limit is there purely for the safety of those in the pit lane.

  8. and would not be changed during the season

    If only there was consistency… loads of other rules get changed mid-season these days. All you need is a technical directive…

    In all seriousness though, Yuki Tsunoda got 2 points for being about a foot to far left of a white line, twice. Its a slam dunk time penalty for each, as they’re clear discretions of the rules, but they weren’t in any way dangerous, just clumsy. Its so bizarre taking these points for something as trivial.

  9. This whole thing is a great example of how far from the sporting regulations F1 actually operates.
    When they do apply some of them, look how many breaches show up. No idea how many track limits violations there were over the weekend but it would easily be in triple figures (actual track limits, not the soft and variable ones that were official).

    If they just do what’s written in the regs and enforce it all consistently, F1 driving standards would clean up massively in no time at all. No driver is so stupid as to keep breaking the rules enough times to get a ban.

  10. Perhaps Masi needs to be reviewed instead? Never thought the day would come when I missed Whiting, but perhaps whoever replaces Masi will be somehow worse. At least Whiting would listen and talk to the drivers and teams and had the ability to admit he was wrong or make changes instead of waiting a year to acknowledge he was wrong and hope everyone forgets about it.

    The penalty points aren’t necessarily an issue in concept, but they do need to be reviewed so they work as intended.

    Reply moderated
    1. Absolutely, he must be replaced at this point.

  11. Charlie Whiting: Generally collaborative, fair.
    Michael Masi: Generally dictatorial, adversarial, arbitrary.

    Reply moderated
    1. And also incompetent, dangerous and treasonous.

    2. Short memory as Whiting was basically just the same. Remember he even came on driver’s press conference (unprecedented) to publicly justify ridiculous rulings after uproar (Mexico 2016), and that’s just one example.

      I found him possibly even worse as he seemed to connected to the owner who liked the championships ‘steered’ to whatever was good for the bottom line, and as such seemed to have too much influence on the stewards (not ruling on anything not referred to them by Whiting), throwing safety cars at ‘strategic’ moments etc just for small debris on track, while not on other occasions etc.

  12. Penalty points are broken because I hear lies from him.

  13. As others have said, it’s the way they’re implemented that’s the problem. Laws and corresponding punishments should never be used for the sake of it, but with discretion. If you drive someone off the road on a straight, then fair enough, that’s very dangerous and avoidable. Totally different to someone keeping the racing line and the person trying to go round the outside running out of room. New approach needed urgently.

  14. I think they just need to unhook the auto penalty points thing, and only give those as well if there is a genuine case for requiring them.

    Take the Norris red flag ‘incident’ where he didn’t immediately pit when he only had 1 second to react, and also didn’t know for sure if the pits were even open depending on where the ‘X’ is at Baku. Does that warrant 3 penalty points? I don’t see how. There are plenty of other examples recently where an incident shouldn’t really warrant points.

    Then the cases of running people off on the outside, maybe 5 seconds could be justified, but why the 2 penalty points as well? If it was like Schumacher pushing Rubens almost into the pit wall a few years ago then maybe, or someone causing a pileup in T1, but not for something that was pretty 50/50, and had no particular danger to it.

    To me it feels like it should be a separate disciplinary process that results in penalty points, that can happen after the race and make sure any/all evidence is available and is looked at without any particular time pressure.

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