Otmar Szafnauer: Wrong to ‘punish’ Alpine if Pierre Gasly picks up a race ban

Jon Wilde
Pierre Gasly with his hand on his head. Hungaroring July 2022.

Pierre Gasly with his hand on his head at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Hungaroring July 2022.

Otmar Szafnauer thinks it would be unfair if Alpine were to be “punished” by a race ban for Pierre Gasly when he joins them next year.

Gasly has two more races to drive for AlphaTauri – provided he does not trigger a ban for Abu Dhabi, being only two penalty points away from reaching the dreaded 12 as he went into the Sao Paulo Grand Prix weekend.

Next year, the Frenchman is joining Alpine and even if he avoids notching up any further penalty points in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, he will still have 10 hanging over him right through to Monaco 2023.

That means any further indiscretions in the early part of the next campaign could result in Alpine having to bring in a reserve driver for one weekend in case Gasly is forced to sit it out.

Alpine team principal Szafnauer believes it would be unjust if his team suffered as a consequence of transgressions committed by Gasly while competing for AlphaTauri.

“It’s unfortunate he got those points with a different team and if he does happen to cross the threshold of having too many [points], and has to miss a race with us, I’m not sure that’s what the rule was intended to do, to punish a different team,” Szafnauer told Sky F1.

“But it is what it is unless we can get it changed.”

It was put to Szafnauer that the scenario is similar to in football when a player could incur a suspension for one team, through a series of bookings, and then have to serve it after being transferred to a rival.

“Who are you really punishing? Are you really punishing the driver or the team? I think we have to relook at it and make sure it’s equitable,” said the Romanian-American.

“I think that’s wrong too. Two wrongs don’t make a right here. I think football should look at what they do as well.

“Are you really punishing the player or the team for a transgression that a player did to help another team, for example?”

Gasly himself admitted it was “embarrassing” to be starting at a potential ban, especially when he would not be considered among the most obvious candidates be tagged as a dangerous driver.

“I won’t 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,” said Gasly.

“I don’t really feel like I’ve been particularly dangerous over these last 12 months and it would definitely be a harsh penalty.”

Read more: Drivers call on FIA to make penalty point changes with Pierre Gasly nearing race ban