Formula 1 driver Pierre Gasly is in danger of missing a race this season, as he has accumulated 10 penalty points on his super licence – just two shy of the limit that triggers an automatic ban. The Alpine driver has been hit with several penalties for various offences last year, some of which were considered minor or unfair by him and his team.

Why has he had penalty points?

Spanish GP – Two Points
Expires: 22nd May 2023
Reason: collision with Stroll in Turn 1.

Austrian GP – Two Points
Expires: 10th July 2023
Reason: collision with Vettel in Turn 4.

Austrian GP – One Point
Expires: 10th July 2023
Reason: leaving the track without a justifiable reason multiple times.

Japanese GP – Two Points
Expires: 9th October 2023
Reason: speeding under Red Flag Conditions.

United States GP – Two Points
Expires: 23rd October 2023
Reason: fell more than 10 car lengths behind during the Safety Car period.

Mexican GP – One Point
Expires: 30th October 2023
Reason: leaving the track and gaining an advantage.

Points correct as of writing this article.
Source: Why Does Each Driver Have Their Penalty Points? – WTF1

What are Gasly’s thoughts on the situation?

The Frenchman has been vocal about his dissatisfaction with the penalty points system, which he believes is too harsh and inconsistent. He has also called for a review of the system, which was originally intended to punish dangerous driving, not technical infringements or track limits.

“I won’t even answer that question. You get it [my response] the way that you want. But I won’t make a comment,” he said when asked about the FIA’s decision to change the way penalty points are distributed from this year onwards.

The FIA has agreed to only give out penalty points for specific cases of dangerous driving from 2023, and not for offences like track limits or being too far away from the safety car. However, this change does not apply retroactively to drivers who already have points on their licences.

This means that Gasly still faces the risk of being banned for one race if he receives two more penalty points before any of his existing ones expire. His first two points will expire on May 22nd, after the Monaco Grand Prix, while his last point will expire on October 30th, after the Mexican Grand Prix.

Gasly’s situation is made worse by the fact that his team’s attempt to have some of his penalty points removed was blocked by some of his rivals. Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer revealed that he proposed to wipe off some of Gasly’s points for benign offences at the F1 Commission meeting, but met resistance from other teams.

“There’s two elements to the rule,” Szafnauer told Autosport. “One, going forward, what should you get penalty points for? And I think it’s right that you should get penalty points for not things like track limits, but dangerous driving, which was always the intent.

“Now, should that be retroactive? I’m always going to say yes, mainly because I think that’s fair. If we all stand up, raise our hands and say we made a mistake: then correct the mistake looking backwards not just looking forwards.”

However, Szafnauer said that some teams were “opportunistic” and did not support his proposal, as they saw an advantage in having Gasly potentially banned for a race.

“Some teams were opportunistic and said no,” he said. “They didn’t want Pierre to have less than 10 [points], because if he gets another couple then he misses a race.”

Gasly will have to be extra careful on track this season, as any mistake could cost him dearly. He will also hope that his rivals will show more sportsmanship and fairness in the future, and not try to exploit his predicament.

GrahampurseCC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons