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Several drivers at risk of suspension for a Grand Prix

Grand Prix Suspension Threat Looms for Multiple Drivers!

23/04/2024

In 2024, F1 stewards have escalated penalty points dramatically, putting several top drivers on the verge of suspension.

F1 drivers face a greater risk of race suspensions as the sports stewards are issuing many more penalty points in 2024 compared to last year.

Last year, stewards only issued two penalty points in the first five races. This season, they have handed out 18 over the same period, which is nine times as many.

Most of these points were awarded during last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. Five drivers received penalties, accumulating a total of 11 points over the weekend. Any driver who accumulates 12 penalty points over a rolling 12-month period is automatically banned from one race.

The majority of the penalty points were for incidents where a driver collided with another. This year, the FIA’s sports stewards are enforcing new guidelines that have strengthened their rule enforcement. This partly came in response to drivers’ remarks that the five-second penalties imposed for some infractions were often too lenient.

The flurry of sanctions in recent races leaves several drivers close to suspension, which is concerning. Logan Sargeant, one of those penalized last weekend, now has eight penalty points. If he collects four more by the Italian Grand Prix on September 3rd – in 11 races including two with a Sprint – he will be suspended for a race.

Sergio Perez is in an even more precarious position after accumulating eight penalty points at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. He will not see his points decrease for another 12 races, until September 17th!

The driver who has most felt the wrath of the sports stewards this year is Fernando Alonso. Within three Grand Prix, he went from a clean license to halfway towards a suspension, due to two three-point penalties. With 6 points, Alonso is nearly on par with Lance Stroll, who has 7.

The first was his highly controversial penalty for slowing down in front of George Russell on the penultimate lap in Australia, leading to the Mercedes driver’s crash. The second occurred during the sprint race in China, in his battle with Carlos Sainz as he attempted to overtake the Ferrari driver at turn 9.

All drivers nearing the 12-point limit will need to keep in mind the stewards’ determination to clamp down on race incidents whenever they find themselves in wheel-to-wheel combat.

No F1 driver has ever been banned for reaching this limit. However, it has happened in other categories with the same rules. Two Formula 2 drivers received suspensions in 2022 and another in 2019.

The F1 driver closest to a suspension was Pierre Gasly, who had reached 10 points by the end of 2022.

Several drivers at risk of suspension for a Grand Prix

Several drivers at risk of suspension for a Grand Prix!. Several drivers at risk of suspension for a Grand Prix!

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