The issue of points totting up was thrust into the spotlight last year when Pierre Gasly found himself in danger of being forced to sit out a grand prix for a relatively small rules breach.
The Frenchman had got himself up to 10 points – just two shy of the limit before he would be banned for a race – as the result of a track limits penalty at the Mexican Grand Prix.
F1’s sporting regulations state that should a driver accrue 12 points over a 12-month period, then their race licence will be suspended for the following event, after which the slate will be wiped clean.
Any points earned remain on a driver’s licence for a period of 12 months, after which they will be respectively removed on the one-year anniversary of each offence.
The issue over penalty points left Gasly upset, and he vowed to talk to the FIA to urge them to rethink.
Speaking at the time, he said: “I’m not going to lie. It’s a very unpleasant situation and quite delicate.
“In some ways, also a bit embarrassing to be standing in a position where I could be banned.
“After the season that I’ve done, I don’t really feel like I’ve been particularly dangerous over these last 12 months, and that will be definitely a harsh penalty.”
Following Gasly’s discussion with the FIA, it is understood that the governing body agreed to review matters over the winter to see if any changes were required.
It was agreed that stewards would, from the start of the 2023 season, take a much more considered approach when it came to dishing out penalty points.
Lance Stroll, Aston Martin AMR23, George Russell, Mercedes F1 W14, Lando Norris, McLaren MCL60, Esteban Ocon, Alpine A523, Valtteri Bottas, Alfa Romeo C43, the remainder of the field at the start
Photo by: Andy Hone / Motorsport Images
With the original intention of the penalty system being to prevent dangerous driving, the FIA will continue to hand out points for offences that are deemed unsafe.
However, for rules breaches that are more sporting related – such as track limits breaches – then no points will be given out from now on.
The new approach already had an impact at the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix, where the stewards handed out sporting sanctions without penalty points.
Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Ocon, who both earned time penalties for a variety of offences, escaped having any penalty points added to their licences.
Gasly still remains on 10 points, however, with his first points due to expire on May 22. The…
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