Start, Spa-Francorchamps, 2012

Penalty points system for drivers moves a step closer

2013 F1 seasonPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Start, Spa-Francorchamps, 2012The introduction of a penalty points system which could see drivers being excluded from races has moved a step closer.

Team principals have agreed on a structure for the points system according to Auto Motor und Sport. The plan received the support of seven of the eleven team principals and will now be considered for implementation by the FIA.

Under the plan drivers would receive penalty points for a range of misdemeanours. They continue to accrue them until they reach at least 12, at which time they receive a race ban.

The following misdemeanours would incur the following points penalties:

Infraction Points
Race ban 5
Exceeded the speed limit (at any time) by more than 20kph 3
Caused a dangerous collision 3
Ignored the black flag 3
Exceeded the speed limit (at any time) by 10-20kph 2
Caused a collision 2
Dangerously impeded another driver 2
Dangerously forced another driver off the track 2
Drove too quickly in a yellow or red flag situation 2
Ignored the blue flag 2
False start 2
Overtook the Safety Car 2
Exceeded the Safety Car delta time 2
Dangerous exit from a pit stop 2
Ignored the weigh station during qualifying 2
Missed the drivers’ briefing or arrived late 1
Exceeded the speed limit (at any time) by up to 10kph 1
Impeded another driver 1
Forced another driver off the track 1
Gained an advantage by leaving the track 1
Crossed the white line at the pit lane exit 1
Ignored the red light at the pit lane exit 1
Overtook another car under the Safety Car 1
Failed to maintain correct distance to the Safety Car 1

Existing penalties will remain in place so a driver who was given a grid drop for impeding a driver would also receive the corresponding penalty points.

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  • 146 comments on “Penalty points system for drivers moves a step closer”

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    1. Not sure if I fully understand this very well. Is the idea that these penalties should replace drive-throughs and time penalties during the race?
      What would happen if a driver who has been ‘a good boy’ all season came into the final race of the year with no points at all . . . He could be seriously naughty all weekend, safe in the knowledge that there would be no carrying foreward of his penalty points.
      Also, why does ‘Race Ban’ get 5 points? If someone is banned from a race, it’s becasue they have done something bad, and they are being punished (by the Stewards?). So by giving him points, you’re punishing him for being punished. Seems a little odd.

      1. @timothykatz
        No it would not replace the usual penalties. So don’t worry about that.
        And regarding the 5 points for getting a race ban, I see it like this, a driver behaves like a MASSIVE moron, gets him self a race ban, but just to make sure that he gets even less slack next time he is given 5 points on top of that to make sure that he has to change his attitude right there on the spot or else he would get another race ban very quickly.

      2. Not sure if I fully understand this very well. Is the idea that these penalties should replace drive-throughs and time penalties during the race?

        Looking at the last line of the article, I think the idea is that the drivers would still get, for example, drive-throughs during the race, or grid drops for the race if an infraction occurs during practice or quali, for whatever the usual offences are that cause a driver/team to be given a driver-through or a grid drop, PLUS they would get penalty points that would then get accumulated and if exceeding 12 then they get a race ban.

        In other words I don’t think a driver can go into the final race with no penalty points, or only a few, and therefore start commiting ‘crimes’ without fear of retribution. Block a driver in quali and he will still have penalized himself for the race by earning a grid drop for the start of the race, even if the penalty points aren’t the concern as it is the last race, assuming they don’t get carried over to the next season, which to me would be ridiculous. Earn himself a driver-through and he will still have penalized himself for the race even if the points that go with it are not going to affect a ban, in the scenario you present.

        A race ban getting 5 points simply means a driver gets banned PLUS 5 points…I think the intention here is to discourage behaviour that accumulates points. The points are only a further penalty if they accumulate 12 or more, so the point is (pardon the pun) keep your nose clean, don’t accumulate more than 12 points, and if you do that means that your behaviour in general needs some attention and getting banned for a race for continued infractions is the eye-opening consequence for the driver that needs to start driving cleaner.

        My concern with anything like this is that it is still up to the discretion of the stewards, and I think there is still an undercurrent of belief that an infraction may or may not be instigated depending on who did it and how they want to shape the Championship run for the season. ie. some think that if a team if running away with the Championship and viewership is falling off, said runaway team might receive a penalty that would normally be no big deal, to try to rein them in and make more of a season out of it. When has a driver blocked, or blocked too much, or not left enough room, etc etc.

        I have a question too in that I thought ALL teams would have to agree to this in order for them to delve into it further, and yet in this case 7 out of 11 have agreed. Is it the case that at all times, as long as the majority of teams agree, then they go ahead, or am I mistaken in thinking that for some things (ie. changes to the way F1 works) ALL teams have to agree.

        1. @robbie. Thanks for that. I understand what you are saying, and the question of who these penalties would be awarded by and when is a concern too. Are the Stewards good enough, or are these penalty points going to be an FIA task, after the event has finished?
          It would seem to be very much open to manipulation, as you say.

    2. They should add a component whereby points accumulated over time begin to erode, rewarding good behavior. The AFL (Australian Football League) has something similar for players facing the match review panel and tribunal.

      1. Yeah I can see that, although one could argue that the reward for good behaviour is that by behaving well you are not accumulating points that would lead to a race ban (12+), so if you ‘earn’ some points with bad behaviour, but that concern makes you clean up your act and stop accumulating points, then your points tally remains harmless and you have rewarded yourself and the team by driving cleaner.

    3. ‘Gained an advantage by leaving the track’, only one point for this. If this gets implemented, I think any given day a driver will happily go off the track to gain position and collect 1 penalty point and he can do that atleast 11 times (assuming no other penatly points being collected) before getting a ban.

      Remember, Seb got penalised when he overtook JB off the track last year. If given an option Seb would have happily taken one penalty point.

      1. Again though, there is still the usual penalty for leaving the track and gaining an advantage. We will still see a driver giving the spot back in order to avoid a drive-through, and if he doesn’t give the spot back immediately he will be flagged and given a drive-through, PLUS he will have earned a point on his naughty list. The penalty points system is not being considered in order to give drivers the go-ahead to commit up to 11 points in infractions as a substitute for the usual consequences of said infractions. The usual consequences are still in place PLUS you now accumulate points that could lead to a race ban if you commit so many infractions that you’ve earned to be sat out to rethink the way you (mis)conduct yourself on the track.

        1. Yeah, now I see. Thanx Robbie.

    4. i guess these points are a different matter from the Championship points, aren’t they? I mean, they are not points discounted from the WDC, right?

      1. I’m guessing not. I think the teams would likely not agree to what you suggest, particularly because of the undercurrent of thinking that sometimes penalties issued or not issued fall in the ‘shades-of-grey’ category and are so highly debateable that if the penalty points also affected the Championship points, the potential consequences and the controversy would be huge. That said, Championship points will definitely be affected for a driver who has earned a race ban by achieving 12+ points. Race ban= 0 points for one race.

    5. Image a race with 3 or more drivers the grid is only going to get smaller, this is not ideal for F1 with all the sponsors and fans who want a full grid specially with only a few cars.I suppose the reserve drivers can finally have a go but do you really want a race with your favourite driver out, I like the system, its gonna keep drivers in check, but will it force drivers to be too cautious, this might work in team sports with more participants, but for f1, guess we will only find out once its implemented, personally I am not in favour!!

    6. Maldonado had 10 penalties last year. He would’ve been close to 12.

      1. One of them was at least a 3-pointer though, when he hit Perez on purpose in Monaco, so the likelihood is that with this system in place, Maldonado would have either got a race ban, or calmed down sooner.

        1. I do think it would be interesting to see whether anybody would have hit 12 last season… Will take a lot of digging through seeing exactly who missed meetings etc and when!

    7. Is it just a language barrier thing, because I don’t understand why people are struggling to understand that this is a penalty point system, *not* a deduction against their WDC points total.

    8. FIA building on top of an already crappy penalty system? Nothing surprising here. Drivers getting banned for speeding and coming late? I can imagine all the excitement when a title is decided because a championship contender won’t start a race. Awesome race indeed. And goodluck taking autograph of your favourite driver when he is banned. Or maybe he will have to be present because FOM demands shots of his sad face, contemplating what he has done and vowing never to steer away from the Holy Delta Time. Or something. Viewers should be kept entertained. Especially the ones who had came to see that driver. If he fails to comply again – another race ban of course. :)

      1. I can imagine all the excitement when a title is decided because a championship contender won’t start a race.

        I think that is a very valid point. However, I think in reality most drivers don’t speed that often throughout the season, nor show up late for meetings, such that those ‘lightweight’ infractions would be his undoing for the WDC. And they certainly wouldn’t speed as much or by tardy with a tangible penalty points system in place. Most WDC’s have to have had a pretty clean season in order to get to where they are by the final race. If they’ve been accumulating enough points such that they may get banned for the final race, I think it is likely they also aren’t a candidate to win the WDC. The usual penalties will have applied throughout the year too, and going hand in hand with the penalty points would be other costly consequences that would be just as key to preventing a driver from winning the WDC such as drive-throughs and gridspot downgrading if not starting from the back of the pack, that would have limited their WDC points tally in several races.

        1. So it’s OK because it’s just unlikely to happen? LHC black hole; Chernobyl/Fukushima or Challenger unlikely? :D
          The point system doubles the penalties for no good reason. Grosjean was banned supposedly for repeated offences. This proposal does not take into account repeated offences, does not make difference between speeding and causing a crash.
          “racing driver gets banned for driving fast” will be a nice headline. Out of context, sure, but still hilarious.
          Finally, missing a race limit a driver WDC chances more than any grid penalty. A WDC contender does not need to start on pole in these times, he just needs to start. And the 12pts ban certainly has the power to decide championships.

          1. @crr917 Hmmm….well it is certainly easier for a driver in F1 to control his pit lane speed or his attendance record at a driver meeting than it is for a nuclear power plant to react to a Tsunami, or for them to predict a space shuttle won’t blow up after I’m sure they thought they had all precautions accounted for.

            The points system they are proposing only doubles the penalties if a driver accumulates more than 11, and that’s within his own actions to control. Offend repeatedly and for sure you will not only suffer the normally applied penalties such as drive-throughs, and grid spot penalties, but you’ll get yourself into the 12 point ban zone even quicker.

            I remain convinced that most drivers who have such a sorted season that they have accumulated penalty points to the point of being banned, weren’t likely having a WDC season to begin with. You need to drive a pretty clean season, with historically the WCC winning car, with few reliability issues or accidents, and few infractions, to pull off a WDC.

            There might, on paper, be a chance that the 12pts ban can decide a championship, but I don’t think F1 will let that happen or would instigate this system if it could happen that we would have such an anti-climactic end to a season. And if in fact they do let this happen, and in fact it does happen, then so be it… all you drivers had all the knowledge ahead of time as to what would happen if you commit too many infractions…so you’ll have to live with the consequences even if it costs you the WDC in the end.

            You’re right…missing a race limits a driver’s WDC chances more than any grid penalty…so don’t miss a race.

            1. Cause a crash, break the speed limit a couple of times, one unsafe release, leave the track limits, one fall start, impede someone and some late coming for driver briefing is not the same as causing 6 crashes. Or equal to breaking speed limit 6 times.
              Actually it sounds like the real laws but it does not make it any better :)

      2. How about a public spanking for anyone with 12 points at the race he’s banned from!

        1. And one penalty point if he is late for his public spanking?

      3. @crr917
        If a driver is late to the drivers briefing, 12 times then he needs to have someone take a look at his watch.
        The drivers briefing is something that is necessary for the safety of them selves, the marshals and to be able to make the weekend run smoothly.
        Its not a just tea party.
        Would your boss not consider doing something quite severe if you were noticeably late for more then 50% of all your important meetings doing a whole year? The vast majority would.
        If a driver is given a race ban for not taking things seriously, then its his own fault.
        They don’t do those things for fun.

    9. Good intentions, but this just further fuels conspiracy and favouritism disputes, considering lack of backbone and consistency stewards were showing in past two years.

    10. Dangerous exit from a pit stop

      I assume that this only applies if the driver ignores the lollipop man, and leaves before he is told it is safe to do so?

      1. I think it must be, otherwise it would be an ‘unsafe release from pit box’ which is a Team, rather than Driver problem, isn’t it? can’t remember what penalties have been applied in the past for that though.

        1. I think drive through penalties, which seems unfair on the driver, but is nowhere near as unfair as getting points contributing to a ban.

    11. I think this is a really good idea.

      If a driver repeatedly breaks the rules/regulations then they should suffer a penalty & if they keep doing it as well as other things then clearly they are not learning from there mistakes or simply don’t care about the regulations so should receive further penalty.

      If you have a driver that is constantly breaking the pit speed limit then action needs to be taken & if a penalty points system would eventually result in a severe penalty (Race ban for example) then it will make the driver think about learning how to not break the pit speed limit.
      Same with accidents, If a driver is repeatedly causing accidents then something is wrong & he is clearly not learning for his mistakes, This points system will make him think about things a bit more.

      We have this sort of system on the public road & I see no issue with something similar occurring on the race track.

    12. I’m definitely in favour of this system, it will help to tally up who really deserves to be banned, and keep drivers in line and stop multiple re-offenders.

      We only need to take a look at 2012 and see that Grosjean would have had 8-10 points tallied up before Belgium. With that said, he may well have been far less aggressive and the incident may never have happened. Had it happened anyway, that would have resulted in at least another 5 points, and then another 5 more for the race ban he would have incurred for gaining more than 12 points.

    13. David not Coulthard (@)
      9th May 2013, 16:11

      Missed the drivers’ briefing or arrived late : a point.

      Err……….Wouln’t fines be better fot that infridgement?

      1. David not Coulthard (@)
        9th May 2013, 16:11


    14. I like the principle, but worry a bit about the balance, and also see an issue that inconsistency by stewards now becomes an even bigger problem as it will haunt drivers for 12 months.

    15. “Missed the drivers’ briefing or arrived late: 1 point”

      Kimi may be getting a few of those!

    16. I see another opportunity for strategy here, and a chance to use this to advantage.

      Lets assume in the last 2 races a driver has kept his nose clean all year and has zero points, but his rival has collected 10.

      This system would encourage the “clean” driver to make lots of adventageous infractions as long as he stays below the 12 pt mark. Similar, he can try to bait the other driver and try to get him some extra points; perhaps nosing in on situation whereby the “dirty” driver is “encouraged” to push him off, or make to create a scenario where the dirty driver gets advantage in an off-track excursion.

      Seems like another weapon that can/will be used to win races rather than increase saftey or the purity of racing.

      1. @javlinsharp Drivers will get the points in addition to the other penalties (like drive troughs and place demotions), but you make a valid point in that a driver with a lot of points will be driving very carefully and others can take advantage of that.

      2. Hmmm…unless I’m mistaken it sounds like you think that the clean driver has 11 points worth of infractions that he can commit to his advantage without further consequence as long as he’s below 12 points…which is not the case. Drivers still get the usual consequences for misbehaviour, PLUS points for their infractions. So I’m having trouble wrapping my head around what would be an ‘adventageous infraction.’ And also I’d like to think that the stewards would be able to see though some sort of ‘baiting’ tactics, even if those made sense to do.

        So you force your rival off the track and take the one point because you’ve kept it clean and you’ve got lots of points to give with only two races to go. Presumably in your scenario the driver gains an advantage by gaining a spot even if he’s been forced off the track (and presumably doesn’t give the spot back), so is given a penalty point and it puts him in the race ban category for the last race. I somehow think that the stewards would not allow a dirty tactic like this to be categorized the same way. If you are forced off the track and you somehow gain an advantage from it anyway, is that the same as gaining an advantage by going off the track because you overcooked a corner? Are you still obliged to give the spot back if someone underhandedly forces you off the the track but it doesn’t work and the one you forced still gains an advantage? I would like to think that the ‘clean’ rival that decided to resort to dirty tactics such as this would first of all be castigated for trying to win this way, and secondly would risk himself being given a harsh penalty for the last race, such as a ten-spot grid penalty for forcing someone off the track. Sure the one point penalty is inconsequential for him at that stage, but I’m sure risking a ten-spot penalty or worse, and his own integrity, might not be worth the slim odds of somehow getting a dirty trick past the stewards.

    17. I’m sure the 4 teams who didn’t support it are Sauber, Williams, Caterham and Marussia.

    18. I do think this is a great idea, even the ones for petty infringements. It’d be a great way to get a bit of discipline into the sport where we have seen drivers in the past commit similar offenses multiple times in a short space of time. This is, however, only worth doing if a) the FIA will actually stick to it, b) it’s wiped after the end of the season let’s say, or the point(s) are dropped 12 months after committing that offense and c) Vettel gets a penalty point every time he raises ‘that’ finger ;)

      The only two (three) drivers who did not get any penalties last season were Fernando Alonso and Timo Glock (and Jerome D’Ambrosio). Does anybody know whether they would have gotten any penalty points for any of the above crimes if they committed them? And does anybody know whether any driver would have been awarded a race ban last season or not? (Maldonado surely got one)

    19. Hi Keith. You gave us the news but not your opinion on whether this is a good or bad thing. What d’ya think?

      1. @shimks I haven’t entirely made my mind up yet. Though like some people I find the implied equivalence between some misdemeanours very odd. For example ignoring a blue flag is a far lesser crime than overtaking the safety car. And I think we need a specific and harsher punishment for drivers who intentionally cause contact, which we’ve seen too much of in the past few seasons (and in GP2 lately).

        1. Yes, the proposed penalty points system does seem quite unbalanced. However, if they got it tweaked correctly, perhaps it would go some way to iron out the discrepancies between how different referees at different races tackle the same misdemeanours.
          I wonder also if “Dangerous exit from a pit stop” is something different to “Unsafe release”, which would be the pit crew’s fault, not the driver’s.
          Thanks for taking the time to answer, Keith!

    20. I’m not really against it, I just think it’s sad that we need these kind of rules. I would prefer some kind of drivers’ code, a set of unofficial agreements between drivers. If these new rules will be approved by the FIA, it would further stimulate my impression that F1 drivers are a class of toddlers: they get a sticker for every naughty thing they do, and when their naughty-book is filled with stickers they are sent to the naughty-step.

      I wonder why this ‘last resort’ penalty system has never been considered before – and I’m not asking that sarcastically. How did driver mentality in 50 years evolve from handing other drivers World Championships because they deserved it more (Collins 1956) and putting fairness above the World Championship (Moss 1958) to pushing drivers of the road (Vettel, Italy 2012) and drivers using their cars as weapons (Maldonado, Monaco 2011)?

      Well, I can tell you why: it’s the loss of respect between drivers. Drivers barely meet each other, even during race weekends. Add to that the relatively short careers drivers have today and the pressure to perform quickly or be replaced by one of those many many back-up drivers. How do we fix this? No idea, unfortunately.

      1. Very valid comment here. Made me think of hockey here in North America and how it seems the goal nowadays it not just to take the man off the puck, but to take him out of his career.

        I think part of the reason things have evolved this way comes from the huge dollars involved that have taken something away from the ‘love of the sport’ aspect of it, which is still present to a degree of course, and added much more of the business aspect of it to the point of winning at all cost…even integrity.

        I think one of the glaring differences, and I’m not suggesting we can or should go back to this, is that back then, it was far more dangerous. And I can extend the hockey analogy here too. Back in the day they didn’t wear helmets, everyone had heavy wooden sticks with straight blades, wild slap shots above the waist were the exception, and many players had to have jobs to support themselves, so little was the pay for playing professional hockey. And there was a respect amongst the players and they weren’t out there to fire pucks at each other’s heads and try to concuss themselves out of their careers.

        We all know how so much more dangerous car racing used to be…how many drivers have died in racing. And nowadays and for a while now the cars and tracks are so safe that the drivers feel invincible, just as hockey players now feel, with all that high-tech equipment they wear.

        When money wasn’t the driving force, and when danger and risk of injury or death was much greater, there was much more respect amongst the players/racers.

        The fix? Sadly I think it might just have to be more and harsher penalties, as ‘toddler’ like as that is. The money isn’t going away, and nobody would even think to suggest they go backwards and make sports dangerous again…unlearn what they have learned. Also sadly, I think some sports’ governing bodies want to create an atomosphere of controversy because it grabs headlines. If they can get their sport not just onto the Sportcasts, but onto the National News, all the better. It equates to money.

        1. I would prefer some kind of drivers’ code, a set of unofficial agreements between drivers.

          We already have stuff like this.

          There’s a lot of agreements between drivers regarding various things relating to on-track behavior, Thats a part of the reason you have the GPDA meetings.
          However there have been many instances in the past where drivers have ignored these agreements while out on track, Hamilton’s weaving to break Petrov’s tow at Sepang in 2010 is one such instance & he got a lot of stick for it in the following GPDA meeting.
          Never stopped him doing the same thing the following year.

          1. Yeah I think a drivers’ code, which @andae23 is correct would be preferable to them being a ‘class of toddlers’ is all well and good on paper but gets thrown out in the heat of the moment on the track due in large part, imho, to the money and the pressure, and the fact that from a safety standpoint they know the odds of physical harm are now minimal. And integrity also gets overshadowed by what seems to be the more important goal of money and ‘success’ at any cost with less regard to what people will and won’t do and still be able to sleep at night. Get those numbers into the record book and the millions in the bank and that will help you look yourself in the mirror because millions will look past the asterisks beside your name in the records because it’s all about the material gain, not how the game was played.

          2. Now you’re saying it like that, I’m starting to doubt if my solution is any good, but I’ve always had the attitude of ‘if you have good personal values you don’t need rules’, and to be honest I don’t see why this couldn’t apply to Formula 1.

        2. @robbie You’re comment is making a lot of sense to me: indeed the ‘danger’ aspect of the sport has been erased almost completely now – which is great, but there are drawbacks. And like most ‘hot topics’ in F1 (pay drivers, KERS/DRS, tyres) it all boils down to money. This is indeed not just confined to F1, but also to hockey, soccer and many more sports, so this more a consequence of society’s development than a typical F1 problem.

          In a way, I think F1 is just an outdated concept – the fundamental values of ‘speed’ and ‘respect’ have basically made way for ‘selling products’ and ‘TV ratings’. I don’t know if the sport can be fixed in a way that it can have the best of both worlds, because at the moment the balance between sport and spectacle is completely messed up.

          1. Hear hear….

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