Formula 1 drivers are imploring the FIA to make changes to the sport’s penalty point system as AlphaTauri racer Pierre Gasly teeters on the brink of a one-race ban.
The super license penalty point system forms part of F1’s discipline process for incidents the FIA’s stewards consider to be dangerous.
Gasly collected another penalty point at last month’s Mexican Grand Prix after he left the track and gained an advantage.
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The incident brings Gasly’s sum to 10 penalty points amassed in the last 12 months.
Under the current system, each super license – which is a requirement to drive in F1 – has a maximum of twelve points that can be increased before disciplinary action is undertaken. Points remain on the super license for twelve months before they are removed.
If the twelve-point limit is reached by a driver, their super license is suspended for the following grand prix, effectively forcing a one-race ban.
This said, Gasly will need to steer clear of trouble until May next year when the first two points of his tally – picked up during this year’s Spanish GP for a collision with Lance Stroll – will expire.
Gasly and several other racers have claimed he is not an unsafe driver, therefore his offenses do not deserve a ban.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s a very unpleasant situation and quite delicate, in some ways a bit embarrassing to be standing in a position where I could be banned for a race after the season I’ve done,” Gasly said.
“I don’t really feel like I’ve been particularly dangerous over these last 12 months and that would be a harsh penalty.
“There’s been a lot of discussions with the FIA, trying to find a solution.”
Williams driver Alex Albon, who is on seven penalty points, sympathized with Gasly’s situation and reiterated the need for an overhaul of the system.
“I’m quite high up there as well and I completely agree with Pierre,” he said.
“I think I have three points on my license that are down to track limits – something which is not dangerous at all and not harming any other driver or myself.
“I think I’ve got another two points for a collision with Lance Stroll in Jeddah, which at the end of the race as drivers we deemed was not my fault. So there are a lot of points on my license which I don’t think I deserve.
“So we are discussing it and I think there is going to be a change. But we’ve already got the points on our licence, so what happens then?
“Because even if we do make steps forward into next year, do the points we’ve got from previous races stay on or whatever?
“We do need to do something about it, I don’t think any of us are dangerous drivers.
“Of course you should punish drivers if they do dangerous things, but I think a lot of the points everyone has right now are not because of dangerous things.”
Ex-F1 driver Romain Grosjean was the last competitor to be banned from a race. He was barred from the 2012 Italian Grand Prix for causing an “extremely serious” first-corner crash at the preceding race in Belgium.
Under the current penalty point system which was introduced in 2014, no driver has been banned since.
In October, Gasly signed a multi-year deal to join French team Alpine next season.
With a potential ban hanging over his head, the 26-year-old is concerned about the effect that missing a race could have on either his farewell with AlphaTauri or the start of his new life with Alpine.
“I want to do all the races, I want to finish the season in the best way I can with AlphaTauri,” Gasly said.
“I want to do all the races in 2023 and get the maximum chances to perform for Alpine.
“There’s a lot at stake, nobody knows what will happen in 2023. I could end up with an amazing car, fighting for the championship for example. I can’t take the risk to be banned for a race and lose all my hopes for the championship.
“So it’s a very tricky situation, I’ve been discussing quite a lot with the FIA to try and find solutions because the way the regulation is written at the moment, it’s quite strict on the drivers and quite harsh penalties.
“Even though it’s not always related to dangerous driving, definitely the penalty has massive repercussions on the teams’ and drivers’ championship.”
With only two races remaining this season, including this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix, Gasly is hopeful that a solution will be determined soon.
“We’ll have more conversations but I hope we can find a solution … to avoid ending up in a silly situation where I’ll be banned for a race,” he said.
“That will be terrible for myself and not the way I’ve seen the sport growing up.
“I don’t think that’s the correct approach [even though] at the moment there’s no clear solution.
“So hopefully there can be a good plan going forward for 2023.”
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