Does Pierre Gasly deserve to be one penalty away from a race ban?

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Ever since the new penalty points disciplinary system was introduced into Formula 1 at the start of the 2014 season, drivers have been aware that if they collect 12 superlicence penalty points, they will be punished with an immediate ban from the next round.

Former Renault, Lotus and Haas driver turned IndyCar racer Romain Grosjean remains the last driver ever to face the ignominy of being banned from competing in a race weekend after being deemed responsible for a horrific multi-car crash at the start of the 2012 Belgian Grand Prix. But despite there being a clear mechanism in place to ban repeat offenders, there has not been a Formula 1 driver who has crossed the 12 point threshold since the system was introduced

However, that could all change in the nine races between the end of this season and the 2023 Monaco Grand Prix. AlphaTauri driver Pierre Gasly is currently only two penalty points away from being the first Formula 1 driver ever to be handed an automatic one-race suspension, with ten against his superlicence.

Crucially, all ten were accrued this season, beginning from the Spanish Grand Prix in May. That means Gasly will not see any points removed from his superlicence until after the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix next year – round seven of the 2023 season.

How Gasly accrued ten penalty points in six months

In Barcelona, Gasly received his first penalty points of 2022 when he collided with Lance Stroll at turn one during the race. This earned him two penalty points for being “wholly at fault,” despite the stewards conceding that Gasly likely understeered into the Aston Martin due to a lack of grip. With two points already carried over from 2021, Gasly’s penalty points total was now four.

Five races later in Austria, Gasly was involved in another collision with an Aston Martin – although this time with Stroll’s team mate, Sebastian Vettel. Gasly was deemed “wholly at fault” for colliding with Vettel as the Aston Martin driver tried to overtake him around the outside of turn four. Gasly was given two penalty points, bringing his total to six.

(L to R): Pierre Gasly, AlphaTauri; Lance Stroll, Aston Martin; Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, 2022
Contact with Stroll in Spain was the first offence
In the same race, Gasly was also given one additional penalty point for a time penalty he received for exceeding track limits four times during the course of the race. That moved him to seven points over the previous 12 months, over half way towards a ban.

In Suzuka, Gasly started from the pit lane in heavy wet conditions. After catching the field, he collected an advertising board on his car knocked off the barriers when Carlos Sainz Jnr crashed. Pitting at the end of the lap under Safety Car, Gasly attempted to catch the field before the race was red-flagged as he passed the crash scene. Enraged at not being warned about the recovery vehicle, Gasly breached 250km/h down the long back straight despite being under Red Flag conditions. He was handed two more penalty points, bringing his active total up to nine.

After Japan, two penalty points Gasly had been handed for clashing with Fernando Alonso at the start of last year’s Turkish Grand Prix expired, reducing his total to seven. However, the very next race in the United States, Gasly was called in front of the stewards again when he fell more then ten car lengths behind Vettel under Safety Car. He was given two penalty points for this, bringing his total back up to nine once again.

Finally, in the last race in Mexico last weekend, Gasly was penalised with a time penalty when he passed Stroll off the track at turn four, with all four wheels going outside the white lines defining track limits. Gasly failed to return the position and was handed a five-second time penalty in the race and one additional penalty point, which brought his total up to the current level of ten – just two away from a race ban.

Of Gasly’s ten points, four were due to making contact with another car, two were for driving too fast under red flag conditions, two were for a Safety Car infringement and two for track limits-related offences. Six of his ten penalty points either directly or indirectly involved Aston Martin drivers.

But with Gasly now just two points – likely one offence – away from a race ban, is his conduct this season deserving of him being in such a precarious position?

For

All drivers know that they have a limit of 12 penalty points before they cop a one-round suspension. Gasly has raced his entire F1 career with the superlicence penalty points system in effect and he can only blame himself for his situation.

With five of his points coming in the last three races, it seems it is not a coincidence that Gasly appears to be wracking up superlicence points with avoidable incidents – including simple matters like falling behind under Safety Car.

The penalty points system has been applied consistently for nearly nine full seasons now. If Gasly collects 12 points while all of his peers successfully avoid doing so, then he clearly deserves a race ban.

Against

With F1’s calendars only getting longer, the 12 point threshold is actually stricter in 2022 than when it was first introduced in 2014. Back then, there were only 19 rounds in a season, with 22 this year and two more on top of that in 2023. That makes it more likely that drivers will pick up more points in a 12 month period.

Gasly is also not an inherently reckless or dangerous driver. Despite his clashes with Stroll this year, Stroll has not accused Gasly of being in any way dangerous or unable to control his car in a safe manner, with his two collisions being down to misjudgements rather than due to dangerous divebombs or overly-aggressive moves.

Also, earning penalty points for incidents like being too far back under Safety Car is excessive.

I say

Punishing drivers for dangerous, reckless or generally careless driving is exactly what the penalty points system should be used for. Competition in Formula 1 is tight and intense and accidents will happen. But causing a collision through being reckless and causing a collision by making an error should be judged differently, with penalty points reflecting the nuances and complexities of each individual incident.

Despite Gasly’s understandable fury over the crane incident in Suzuka, it was hard to excuse his speeding under a red flag after passing the crash scene. But while points for the collisions he caused and his speeding under red flags can be justified, it’s easy to sympathise with drivers who argue points should not be handed out for exceeding track limits in a race when they receive sporting penalties in the race.

If you were to take away three points for exceeding track limits and falling back under Safety Car, Gasly would sit on seven penalty points – which feels like a fairer reflection of his conduct this season. Certainly if you compare Gasly’s conduct on-track compared to some drivers who have been banned in Formula 2 – such as Mahaveer Raghunathan and Amaury Cordeel – the idea that Gasly could soon become the first F1 driver to join such a club does not quite sit right.



You say

Do you agree that Pierre Gasly deserves to be two penalty points away from a race ban?

  • Slightly agree (34%)
  • Strongly disagree (27%)
  • Slightly disagree (20%)
  • Strongly agree (15%)
  • Neither agree nor disagree (4%)
  • No opinion (0%)

Total Voters: 114

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Will Wood
Will has been a RaceFans contributor since 2012 during which time he has covered F1 test sessions, launch events and interviewed drivers. He mainly...

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  • 56 comments on “Does Pierre Gasly deserve to be one penalty away from a race ban?”

    1. Penalty Points should be for dangerous drivers. Not to punish each and every “mistake” that is made. Certainly not for track limit violations.

      1. It’s supposed to be a deterrent towards contravening the rules. Whether because of recklessness or unbridled opportunism. I think it’s absolutely fair because the rules aren’t new, and frankly it takes a load of incidents to get anywhere near the race ban.

        Whiel Gasly hasn’t been reckless, he’s had a scruffy 12 month period. Most of those incidents weren’t serious, but they were all almost undoubtedly his fault.

        Now, I’d be ok with revising the rules and refrain from levying penalty points for things that happen outside the race that didn’t cause danger. There are a few things that probably don’t deserve penalty points. Also, some incidents could have qualified as race incidents and nothing more

        1. It’s supposed to be a deterrent towards contravening the rules

          No it isn’t. It was announced as a way to deter dangerous driving behaviour like being over agressive or not adhering to safety precautions during pitstops, VSC, SC or red flags. Now it kinda loses that focus, especially when you consider that the most dangerous offenses which were discussed extensively (like Stroll’s late move in Austin) do not receive an amount of penalty points that reflects the dangerousness of the offense.

      2. Only two were for track limits related penalties and I’m assuming it wasn’t just for going off. It was for going off and retaining an advantage and/or not giving it back voluntarily.

        If drivers don’t get points for repeated bad behavior, they’ll be less likely to be mindful to get out of way during qualifying, drive safely under safety car and so on. We need less things like safety cars, VSC and red flags just because we cannot count on drivers to use common sense at double yellows.

    2. Undeniably. He’s made an endless number of absolutely boneheaded moves. True, they haven’t resulted in Grosjean level catastrophes, but that changes nothing. Just because there isn’t some famously bad example in the bunch or the fact it is hard to remember most of individual incidents that led to the points off hand changes absolutely nothing.

      Each penalty was issued in isolation. So, the only that one could question is if one of the individual penalties was a terrible call. That’s all.

      Unrelated to the penalties, PG and YT must be one the most frustrating pairs of drivers driver/team engineers ever had to work with at the same time. Yuki’s brain melts anytime they give him an instruction or ask a question and PG is always screaming and throwing out accusations on the team radio. It was as tolerable levels at one point, but since he signed for Alpine it seems like he’s been enjoying torturing the team.

      1. Yeah, isn’t this exactly why the points system was introduced in the first place – there are some incidents that should get a driver benched immediately, but the system penalizes drivers who keeps making stupid moves, ignore limits etc. over a longer period of time.

    3. I think he deserves to be where he is. I don’t like points for track limits but I’d have given him considerably more points for going full speed under a red flag when he couldn’t see if there was a recovery vehicle or people on track.

      I don’t know what bad caused it but the standard of driving from him has decreased rapidly and it’s hard to see him getting through a few more races without picking up more points.

      1. @petebaldwin whilst I disagree that he dhould have received points for track limits or for the SC infringement, you make a fair point that the red flag incident should have received more points.
        My understanding was that these points were for dangerous driving, but the weighting of points between major and minor issues makes a mockery of the whole system.

        1. @eurobrun Then your understanding is wrong. The penalty points system was never intended to solely punish dangerous driving. Quite the opposite – it was meant to ensure some sort of escalation for incidents that might seem trivial in isolation, but taken together point to a serial unwillingness or inability to follow the rules of racing.

          1. Exactly @red-andy, @petebaldwin. Whether a driver does a few really dangerous things that result in a straight out ban (or quickly accumulating penalty points) or keeps doing stupid moves and keeps ignoring limits and warnings, they deserve to get benched.

            I feel the system has worked pretty well overall to make drivers think again and take more care once they rack up more than some 6-8 points. Actually Gasly has been pretty erroneous in his driving as he felt more and more frustrated since last May.

    4. I’d scrap time penalties and replace them with penalty points. In case of major in-race offenses give them a drive through without penalty points. I do not like time penalties at all. Ricciardo’s case in Mexico showed why.
      Causing a collision or forcing another driver off track are major offenses to me. They should be penalzed with a drive-through. Track limits abuse 5 times would also be a drive-through.
      Or they could implement slowdown penalties. They could designate a slowdown penalty area on the longest straight or where safe to do so.

      Flag offenses, speeding, practice and qualifying offenses would result in penalty points.

      1. @Imre, yes, time penalties which the driver can take after the race are a nonsense. I think initially they were used because if a driver did something a few laps from the end, and was given a drive thru penalty, it wasn’t always possible to get the message out in time, so they said if that happens then they’d add a time penalty instead, which was fair enough. Then I think it was Ron Dennis who told one of his drivers to stay out and ignore the penalty, because they could argue it then with the FIA, and meanwhile the driver was pushing on to minimie the penalty damage anyway. These days with such good radios, there is no excuse for not having immediate and meaning drive thru or stop go penalties. The time penalty is a nonsense, especially when drivers use it tactically.

        Regarding off track offenses, I think this should be fully automated, not dependent upon the marshalls to decide if it was allowed or not. They surely have the tech to put sensors in the corners so that if a car goes over a sensor it is a slam dunk penalty, preferably enforced by reducing engine power significantly for a lap, which would be a fair simulation of a car going off track and getting dirty tyres. If drivers are going to complain they were forced off track, that’s a different issue. The only reason drivers can cut corners is because the walls were removed to make it safer for them.

        Regarding collisions etc, every time there is a collision you get the pundits talking about who was at fault, and implying that their vast racing experience and understanding of “the racing line” means they know best. Fairness in sport shouldn’t rely on expert opinions. It should be objective and understandable by everyone. If the rules are not totally clear about when you can or cannot overtake then the rules need fixing before you can start handing out penalty points. And who knows, if they fixed the overtaking rules, we might actually get some better overtaking too.

        1. it was Ron Dennis

          Never heard that one, but I’m not much surprised.

          Outrageous beyond the pale, obnoxious and unsporstmantlike, besides an outright ch34t. And signed by RD. What a coincidence.

      2. In that case, I can only presume that you’d be happy with pretty much half the field taking a suspension at some point if time penalties become points. Welcome to a world of drivers tactically triggering a suspension to miss their worst circuit (hey, same as tactical engine penalties right?).

        1. @eurobrun Today they get both a time penalty and penalty points.

          1. @f1mre Sorry, I thought you were implying that ALL time penalties should also get penalty points. Not all time penalties automatically get points, and rightly so (Alonso in Miami for example).
            Points should only be for dangerous driving. The only time track limits are dangerous in my opinion is if you’re deliberately going wide and not slowing when off track / re-joining safely (Mazepin in F2 Russia 2019 for example)

            1. @eurobrun The opposite. Either-or for me. Why double punish drivers? (as they do now) When I first read about penalty points I thought it is going to result in less in-race penalties. Instead they implemented time penalties so we have infinite in-race penalties now…

    5. Yes because he messed with the fom/fia. You don’t mess with them and you are going to learn.

      1. This ! Exactly !

    6. I’ve been wondering whether Alpine will ask Gasly to make sure he racks up a ban before moving to them.

      1. @shimks great minds!
        I was just gonna say that he should deliberately take a penalty in Brazil, sit out Abu Dhabi and start afresh next year with Alpine.

        It’s not such an uncommon tactic. In football, a number of premiership players have confessed that after being 1 yellow card away from a ban in the last game begore xmas, they’ve deliberately earned a cheap yellow card for something minor, specifically so they’re banned for the Boxing Day game, so they can have a longer Xmas break!

    7. It makes sense in the same way Verstappen didn’t get a ban for brake checking Hamilton in the penultimate round last year. It makes perfect sense.

      1. Or Ham purposely driving too fast and understeering into Verstappen at Silverstone last year. It all makes perfect sense.

        1. Or people feeling the need to follow a negative post about Verstappen with one about Hamilton and vice versa.

          Absolutely perfect sense.

          1. If there’s no tit, there’s no tat.

      2. randomnumber (@)
        6th November 2022, 20:37

        It wasn’t a brake check he had to let him by per the stewards. Hamilton is an incredibly underhanded and dirty driver so he tried take advantage of this, fortunately without effect on the championship result

        1. It was a brake check, the stewards specifically stated he pressed his brake. It was a scummy dirty move that they allowed Verstappen to get away without a proper penalty. One of several last year that did affect the championship.

          1. It was a game of chicken. Verstappen wanted to serve the position switch before the DRS detection point, Hamilton wanted it to be after that line, and slowed down a bit too. So Max slowed down more, and Lewis kept behind, feigning not understanding what was happening. When max was going over the DRS detection line he decided to make his car a bit wide, to compromise Lewis’s entry into the corner.
            Both miscalculated the reaction of the other driver so they collided.

            Back on topic: Gasly got a penalty because he was more than the allowed distance behind, but so was Lewis far behind Max at the same lap, and no mention of a penalty or warning here.

      3. same old canard, this horse you are flogging is not just dead, it is fossilized

    8. The penalty point system is truly broken. Absolutely no need for Gasley or any other driver to face a race ban for anything they have done. They have already been penalised for their minor infringements

      The whole system, based around a road license system is rubbish

      Band should be for driving dangerously only, and should be based on 5 points only, with 1-3 points added each time, depending on severity

      1. Gasly made quite a few mistakes in this season, but being the first driver to get a ban for all these? It’s a joke. Even the notorious bad boys such as Grosjean managed to escape the 12 points limit. The message is clear here: don’t mess with FIA, or they will take very seriously how much you keep track limits and 10 car gaps.

    9. I think the penalty system needs some rework around how many points should be handed for some offences.

      For example FIA punished Gasly 3 points for track limits and falling behind the SC, which seems excessive for non-dangerous infranctions.
      While on the same time they penalised Bottas for Hungary’s 2021 start carnage with a very lenient 5-place grid drop and just 2 points and Stroll’s completely dumb and dangerous defense that sent Alonso up in the air with a just 3-place grid drop and 2 points as well… (personally i would hand out pit-lane starts and 5 penalty points to each one of them)

      I mean, falling behind the SC for a few seconds for sure does not deserve the same punishment as taking out 3 cars after messing up the start. FIA should seriously reconsider some of the punishments.

      1. I agree that more should be given for incidents like these.

      2. @black Yes, I think this is an issue with the way the points are calibrated rather than the principle of penalty points per se.

        The current approach seems to be that two points is the default for any incident, with points occasionally added or deducted for aggravating or mitigating factors (although it appears that one of the mitigating factors can be “driver is already close to 12 points” – e.g. Hamilton in Russia 2020, Cordeel in F2 Monaco this year).

        It would make more sense to have a scale, with more points handed out for more serious incidents (and repeat offences – I argued Stroll should have got more than two points for the incident with Alonso as he had already been penalised for excessive weaving earlier this season).

    10. He should actually be on 11 as somehow FIA gave him only 1 point in Mexico. Nevertheless he shouldn’t have as many points as he now has accumulated. 7 or 8 should be right and maybe FIA needs to put the level to 14 as more races are coming after every year.

    11. What do sportsmen ask of a ref? Consistency?
      What do we not get from the FIA?

      1. I’d say most sports with referees have the same problem of inconsistency. This is not a F1 thing.

    12. Penalty point for more than ten car lengths seem a bit harsh, but I would give more for his red flag incident and the rest seem fair. In past decades they had gravel traps to control risky driving so if we are going to use penalty points instead then penalties should be serious.

    13. Many comments are talking if the possibility of race ban was actually something that happens often, it never happened, I think there was once where a ban was simply given to grosjean but don’t think because of reaching 12 points. Furthermore, is a race ban really a problem? I’d say no except in a verstappen vs hamilton situation last year.

      1. talking as if*

      2. @esploratore1 Race bans were more common in the past – for example in 1994 Mika Hakkinen got a one-race ban for causing a first-corner pile-up at Hockenheim. Michael Schumacher was banned for two races the same year for ignoring the black flag at Silverstone; Eddie Irvine got a three-race ban for causing a four-car collision at the season opener in Brazil.

        Penalties have generally become more lenient over the years, although you would hope that ignoring black flags in particular would still merit a period on the sidelines.

        1. Jonathan Parkin
          7th November 2022, 13:38

          Although I believe it was initially one race ban and Jordan appealed it on the basis that Irvine had to make an impossible choice neither of which would have a nice outcome. It was at the appeal it was raised to three, still to my knowledge the only three race ban to be handed out

      1. Excellent point

        1. After a period of reflection, I’d have to agree.

        2. I’m just waiting for someone to hijack this comment and make it about Verstappen, Hamilton or Masi.

    14. The common theme sees to be focused on dangerous driving as the reason for collecting points, when it looks as if the system is based on “break the rules, pick up points”.
      Yes, similar to the road point system. I worked with a fellow who lost his license due to points. He was upset because only 3 or 4 of the infractions were for speeding, all the others were, seat-belt, insurance, turns and other stuff that he felt were not important. Sorry, following the rules is important and is an indicator of attitude and commitment.
      Any chance we can see a list of current drivers and their points score.? Clearly Gasly is well ahead in this one.

      1. Seems that serving a Race Ban does clear your slate.
        Will be interesting if Gasly takes advantage of this for the end of the season.

    15. The rules are pretty clear and he’s been ignoring them. No sympathy for the position he’s in now.

    16. John Ballantyne
      7th November 2022, 4:31

      Can you imagine the litigation that would follow a driver being held “wholly responsible ” by the FIA that seriously injured or killed anyone, even worse if no penalty was issued? Crazy!

    17. I wonder if any action/offence is worthy of an immediate 1 race ban?

      Attempting to reverse out onto the track only to be “saved” potential carnage or harm to marshal by colliding with DK or perhaps speeding under reds?
      I don’t like the (total points) one size fits all penalty nor I should hasten to add I would not want to be the one “grading” actions/offences and handing out penalties.

      1. I wonder if any action/offence is worthy of an immediate 1 race ban?

        That’s something that the FIA should probably address, even if just in private. After all: punting someone off the track often isn’t even given a 5 second time penalty, which is furthermore applied during the race (so cancelled in the event of a safety car). It’s barely a penalty at all.

        One wonders then what kind of shenanigans would have to happen for a driver to get a drive-through, a stop & go, or even a disqualification! The FIA stewards are giving out penalties without using all the tools at their disposal, kind of like how movie critics have turned the 1-10 rating scale into a 7-9 rating scale. It’s ultimately not really good for anyone, neither the FIA nor the teams.

    18. Probably fair, yes. He doesn’t have many soft ‘left the track’ points.

      I’d maybe consider if certain aspects of the penalty system need looking at… whether a limit of 12 is still sensible in an ever-expanding calendar, and whether the system is by design weighted against midfield drivers who may be (I’d guess this is true, but don’t have proof) statistically more likely to be involved in closer racing.

      But saying that, the available facts show us that 19 of the 20 drivers are not within two points of a ban. So perhaps the system isn’t the problem here.

    19. Slightly agree, but ultimately, yes, even if perhaps track limit infringements shouldn’t automatically lead to penalty points, as suggested in some above posts.

    20. So in short: 4 for collisions, 4 for violating race neutralization procedures, and 2 for repeated violation of track limits (including one that involved forcing another car off track, which no doubt influenced the penalty as it alone is a violation of the rules).

      Seems totally fair, especially because some of these penalties were given right after he received one for a similar incident. In other words, he’s not learning from the penalties. Given his now frequent radio outbursts, perhaps a race ban is just what he needs to refocus.

    21. More race bans please so third drivers or whatever they’re called have a chance to show up. Remember Russell replacing Hamilton?

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