Drivers, Interlagos, 2022

F1 drivers expect changes to penalty points system as Gasly nears ban

2022 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Formula 1 drivers expect to see changes to the penalty points system after Pierre Gasly moved close to triggering an automatic one-race ban.

Gasly reached a total of 10 penalty points at the Mexican Grand Prix. Two more will lead to him being banned from his next race. As no points will be deducted from his licence until late May next year, Gasly faces starting the next nine races knowing he is at serious risk of collecting a ban.

While no Formula 1 driver has ever reached the 12-point threshold and been banned as a result, it has happened four times in Formula 2, including three times since June. F2 CEO Bruno Michel said earlier this year the practice of giving drivers penalty points for some infringements, such as exceeding track limits, should be reconsidered.

Several of Gasly’s F1 rivals believe his situation shows a rethink is needed and expect it to happen. “I think there’s been already good discussions, and I think it’s better to keep it internal, but from my understanding there will be some changes made for the future,” said Valtteri Bottas.

The Alfa Romeo driver said drivers should not be given penalty points if the infringements they committed were not in any way dangerous. “The points should be only given when it’s really dangerous and can be harm[ful] to yourself or somebody else on-track,” he argued. “So I think we will see progress being made.

“I don’t think Pierre deserves to be in that kind of situation, on the edge. But that’s the rule now. The main thing is how we act with that in the future.”

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Sergio Perez agreed. “When it’s not related to bad driving or mistakes there shouldn’t be a penalty,” said the Red Bull driver, “and it would be really bad if if he ends up losing a race for that.”

Having not raced in F1 during 2021 and started this year with no penalty points on his licence, Alexander Albon moved halfway towards a ban over the opening half of the season. He also believes the system is too harsh.

“I’m quite high up there as well and I completely agree with Pierre,” he said. “Just to give some context to it, I think I have three points on my licence [that are] down to track limits, which is something which is not dangerous at all. I’m not harming any other driver or myself in that situation.

“I’ve got another two points for a collision with Stroll in Jeddah, which I think at the end of the race, we as drivers deemed wasn’t my fault. So there are a lot of points on my licence which I don’t think are deserved.”

Albon also expects alterations to the system and said drivers’ existing points totals may have to be revised when that happens. “We are discussing about it, I think there is going to be a change,” he said. “[But] if we’ve already got the points on licence what happens then? Because even if we do make steps forward into next year do the points that we just got from previous years or previous races, stay on or whatever?

“I think we do need to do something about it. I don’t think any of us are dangerous drivers. I do understand, of course, you should punish drivers if they do dangerous things. But I think a lot of the points that everyone has right now aren’t because of dangerous things.”

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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...
Claire Cottingham
Claire has worked in motorsport for much of her career, covering a broad mix of championships including Formula One, Formula E, the BTCC, British...

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31 comments on “F1 drivers expect changes to penalty points system as Gasly nears ban”

  1. Penalty point system. Superlicence point system. Too many systems.

    1. wow, all 2 of them

    2. Obviously, the solution is a superlicense penalty point system.



  2. Diluting the penalty points system would send the wrong message. For example, removing track limit infringements from the equation (as Albon ludicrously suggests) would suggest that keeping the car on the track isn’t one of the most fundamental parts of your job as an F1 driver. As I’ve said before – generally in relation to F2 – if you keep leaving the track to the point where you’re at risk of a race ban for it, you probably don’t belong in the sport anyway.

    There are already stiffer penalties for those incidents that are deemed “dangerous.” The penalty points system is intended to keep track of those less memorable incidents, and ensure they carry real consequences if adverse behaviour isn’t corrected.

    And in addition to all of the above, Gasly doesn’t really have any “soft” points on his licence anyway, so it’s difficult to see how any of this would help him.

    1. @red-andy I disagree with your comment. I expect a driver to exploit the limits of the track to go faster. if going off track is faster, than I expect the driver to try it, it’s his nature. It is the duty of the F1 or the track owner to make going off track slower and you can penalise a driver that exploits the limits too far with a time penalty. I agree with the sentiment that penalty points should only be about dangerous or reckless situations, going off track by centimeters is none of that.

      1. @matthijs I’m with you on this. Track limits violations are almost never a safety concern, and on the rare occasions where they are then a points penalty can be applied in those cases. If they were to tweak the points system so that points penalties are not given for non-dangerous actions, but actual dangerous driving is punished more severely, then they would be closer to the aim of banning consistently dangerous drivers.

        1. “Track limits violations are almost never a safety concern”.
          What if your name is Dodge Bollard.?

        2. @keithedin

          Track limits violations are almost never a safety concern

          The . mentality behind those who continually disregard the limits is a huge concern.

          Disregarding double yellow , red , or black should have a minimum penalty of DQ and have the next GP off to reflect on it.

          Stewards could also use the time to decide on if WDC points and as it is a team sport WCC points should be deducted.

          Those three flags should be sacrosanct.
          No ifs no buts no maybe’s.

      2. @matthijs Plenty of drivers push the limits and even go off track a bit and are just fine. The reason Gasly was penalized is because he was warned again, and again, and again, and again – and kept doing it anyway. At that point, the stewards are right to question whether he is acting to the standards expected of an F1 driver.

        But anyway, if that’s all he did wrong he wouldn’t be facing a potential ban. It’s just his chosen angle to portray himself as the victim of bad rules.

        1. Michael, if Gasly did it again and again and agian, the answer still isn’t to put points on his license. The answer is simply to black flag him, disqualify him from the race, or maybe give hime an immediate 30 second stop go penalty. That sort of penalty will soon educate the driver of the error of his ways. Transgressions within the race should be dealt with immediately in the race.

    2. I am wholly on board with you there @red-andy. If it dangerous it deserves an immediate clear penalty. And if it is NOT a mistake (see what Perez mentions about only punishing mistakes) that should actually demand a clear penalty as well.

      The points system is a relatively well working way to put at least some restraint on driver to keep to the track, or face at least this consequence if they do not keep to the rules even after getting close to the points limit.

    3. Ordinarily I’d agree, but this past eason in particular, you could get 2 penalty points for trivial infractions. I thought the whole point was to allow the stewards to assign penalty points based on the severity of the offense. Two penalty points for a reprimand is asinine.

  3. I agree with them. I specially don’t understand when they give penalty points having already given a time penalty or grid penalty for racing situations.

    Penalty points should be given for really serious offences, not something like failing to keep within 10 car lengths during a safety car or track limits…

    1. Penalty points should be given for really serious offences, not something like failing to keep within 10 car lengths during a safety car or track limits…

      The safety car procedure is there for the safety of the marshals. If anything, penalties for breaking those rules should be harsher. If the train of cars gets too long it significantly decreases the time the marshals can safely spend on track.

      1. Michael, the SC rules may be there for safety, but if that’s the problem, that someone isn’t keeping up after being warned to do so, tell other cars that he has forfeited his position and he needs to drop to the back of the line, or if he is already near the back, call him in for a stop go penalty and threaten to disqualify him, but however you deal with it, deal with it there and then. Drivers care about losing position on track. They don’t care about getting a point on a license that might not have any effect upon them at all.

  4. Keep the penalty point system only for dangerous actions, but reassess the points and award more points for truly dangerous things like excessive speed under red flag conditions.

    As for Gasly, he should deliberately take a silly 2 point penalty this weekend, miss Abu Dhabi and start afresh with his new team next year.

    1. @eurobrun Is that how it works? Does it just reset to zero again? If so, that system seems open to manipulation – like you say he might be better off with a clean slate. Alpine would presumably be happy with that scenario.

      Not sure how he’d orchestrate picking up points though.

      1. @bernasaurus, no, I don’t think it works like that. I think, (but may well be wrong), that the penalty point is on your license for 12 months from the time of the offence. What isn’t clear to me is if all 12 points are wiped when you get a one race ban. If it turns out all 12 are wiped immediately then yes, it would be silly and would be open to abuse. A driver determined to pick up the one or two points needed to get banned for the final race of a miserable season could cut every corner, speed through the pit lane, stop at the endand after a pit stop could reverse back to the marshalls post so he could show them the finger. But knowing F1, they’d probably say that was okay provided he wasn’t wearing any piercings.

        1. @bernasaurus that’s how it worked in F2, so I can’t see it being any different

        2. Yes, on checking, serve a race ban and your points tally is wiped clean. Que the abuse suggestions. If Gasly doesn’t game the system, he is a fool.
          Alpine will be furious if in 2023 he either doesn’t race hard because of his points score or suffers a race ban for picking up two more. And based on past history, it won’t take long.

  5. I feel for Gasly, really I do. To be facing a race ban for a lot of incidents that weren’t overtly dangerous.

    But I think changing the rules is a bad idea. This is driving standards as well as safety.

    All the drivers know the rules, if you break them you get penalised. Break them too many times you get banned. Some may be in your control, some may not be.

    1. Captain, in football, all the players know the rules. If they are offside they get penalised. If they are offside repeatedly, the manager has a temper tantrum, but the ref oesn’t let you off the first few times with just a warning, and no matter how many times you are offside, you don’t get a booking for it. The problem in F1 is that it isn’t consistent. If cutting corners is against the rules, they need to find a way to penalise every driver every time they commit the offense. For instance, the inside and outside margins of corners could have numerous rubber spikes to damage nose wings, or rubber debris to stick to hot tires and ruin traction, or they could have sensors which detect the off-road and automatically issue a stop go penalty. I agree we shouldn’t be changing the rules mid season, but it does feel like the stewards are making it up as they go.

  6. In F2, some got banned because they had 5 or more points for track limits. See the earlier write-down on the F2 system on this site which was getting really silly:

  7. Whatever the discussed changes are, they’ll get announced eventually.
    However, they won’t ease Gasly’s situation as he won’t lose any penalty points he’s received thus far, as the changes will only impact future points.
    The Jeddah incident indeed wasn’t Albon’s fault as Stroll took all space from him at the last minute & ironically, my immediate conclusion at the time.

    1. It could change the picture if they would, for example, step up the upper limit to say 16 points to reflect more races in a season @jerejj.

  8. Given the increase in races, I think it could be fair to raise the threshold. However, Gasly knew the rules he was racing under, and shifting the goalposts just as a driver approaches a ban sends out completely the wrong message.

  9. Like with the budget cap, if there’s only one competitor who can’t play by the rules the problem is with that competitor, not with the rules.

    If Gasly hadn’t callously disregarded Japanese marshal safety and also hadn’t bumped into three Aston Martins he wouldn’t now be facing a potential ban. The ‘woe is me’ talk about the track limits is just a distraction as that’s just one point out of the total.

    But in any case, he won’t get a ban. The stewards will find a convenient excuse to not give him any further penalty points. That’s what they’re there for, to smooth over the rules so F1 can put on a show.

  10. Ahm, right. So we are back to having to decide on whether and to what extent going off track to gain an advantage is dangerous? Also, if it is not a mistake (see what Perez mentions), then for me it makes it even worse.

    I thoroughly disagree with the sentiment of the drivers here. We all know they feel they should just be able to abuse track limits without penalty. I think it should be clearly penalized. But if it is not, at least the points system currently means that a driver who just cannot help themselves with that kind of stuff at least faces a penalty over time for not changing their behaviour.

    But then, asking them about it is as if we asked regular drivers a about speeding penalties. Or asked banks about stricter financial rules or big companies about higher taxes. Off course they will be in favour of having less scrutiny.

    1. Off course they will be in favour of having less scrutiny.

      Until they can no longer race because volunteer (!) marshals won’t put up with F1 drivers feeling ‘inconvenienced’ by the safety rules, of course!

      The FIA makes and enforces the rules. What the drivers think about it really shouldn’t come into it. They’re more than welcome to race elsewhere.

  11. The whole point of the system is to penalise drivers who make regular errors of judgement. In this case it seems to have worked well now as Gasly will have to moderate his behaviour or face a ban. I don’t recall Gasly leaping to the defence of other drivers in the past who have neared a ban and in fact when it was Hamilton under risk of receiving a ban, there were many fans who gleefully anticipated it. If the drivers don’t like the rules then they should ask for them to be changed next year behind closed doors (as Bottas alluded to) instead of throwing the FIA under the bus imo.

  12. I don’t really feel like I’ve been particularly dangerous over these last 12 months .”

    Just normal dangerous?
    Well done then!
    Take a candy from the jar and carry on.

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