Do Pierre Gasly’s crimes justify being on the brink of a F1 race ban?

Michelle Foster
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.

With Pierre Gasly staring down a one race ban, his 2023 team boss Otmar Szafnauer wants to know if he can work off some of those points by taking classes.

Gasly moved onto 10 penalty points on his Super Licence last time out in Mexico when he was given one for pushing Lance Stroll off the track and gaining an advantage.

He’s just two shy of a one race ban, a worry given that the driver won’t lose a single point until next year’s Emilia Romagna Grand Prix when he drops two.

That’s round seven of the championship so he has to stay out of trouble for nine races in total, his final two this season with AlphaTauri and seven next year when he joins Alpine.

It has been suggested he take the hit this season, incur another two points at the Brazilian Grand Prix that will keep him off the track in Abu Dhabi.

Then he can start his Alpine career with a clean slate, an idea that Szafnauer likes.

Put to him as a joke that Gasly could deliberately do something to get the two penalty points in Brazil, he told GPFans: “Yeah, a tactical foul.

“Or maybe he could take a class and then the points drop off.”

Gasly is the closest driver to a race ban when it comes to penalty points, the Frenchman two up on his team-mate Yuki Tsunoda while Alex Albon has seven.

Alpine’s current line up of Esteban Ocon and Fernando Alonso have five and four respectively.

Szafnauer concedes Gasly needs to be more cautious in the future.

“We just have to be a little bit more careful,” he said.

“I saw what happened [in Mexico] and at this point, I’m not biased.

“It looked 50-50 to me but anyway. Just have to be more careful.”

But do Pierre Gasly’s crimes warrant a race ban?

The last time a Formula 1 driver was banned came in 2012 when Romain Grosjean was sidelined for one race for causing a spectacular opening-corner crash at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The then-Lotus driver moved across the track to set into play a collision that took out five cars including his own.

The stewards declared it an “extremely serious breach of the regulations which had the potential to cause injury to other” and banned him from the next race, the Italian Grand Prix.

It was also Grosjean’s seventh first lap incident of that season.

Gasly’s crimes are a lot less severe, one could say they’re not even in the same league.

His worst two transgressions involving rival drivers, penalised for causing a collision, were in Spain where he spun Lance Stroll and Austria where he did the same to Sebastian Vettel.

In Mexico he didn’t even make contact with Stroll, he just ran him out of road. That counts for five of his 10.

The other five are more procedural errors for exceeding track limits, falling more than 10 car lengths behind the car in front during a Safety Car period, and speeding under red flag conditions – the latter the most serious of all given what the potential consequences.

But there’s no field-destroying crash in that mix. There’s no TG-for-Halo-or-I-wouldn’t-be-here moment. Just carelessness.

Perhaps a refresher course in F1’s rules regarding Safety Cars and another for a stewards programme (as once attended by Christian Horner) would be a more fitting punishment as there’s nothing in Gasly’s 10 that suggests he’s a real danger to the sport

Read more: Why Pierre Gasly should aim to pick up a race ban for Abu Dhabi