The FIA's Race Director, Michael Masi, has issued clear warnings to Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton and Red Bull's Max Verstappen ahead of the season finale in Abu Dhabi.
With the title on the line this weekend, all eyes are on the increasingly contentious battle after the pair collided once again in Saudi Arabia, and Verstappen picked up two separate time penalties for driving offences.
This weekend, should neither driver finish the race, Verstappen would win the title by dint of being ahead on race victories.
Masi, aware of the possibility of an explosive season finale similar to that between Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at Suzuka in 1990, has moved to head off the possibility of a deliberate action deciding the title.
Drivers could be suspended or disqualified
In his event notes ahead of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Masi emphasised some of the elements of the FIA's International Sporting Code (ISC).
In particular, he highlighted Article 12.2.1.I, which states: "Any infringement of the principles of fairness in Competition, behaviour in an unsportsmanlike manner or attempt to influence the result of a Competition in a way that is contrary to sporting ethics."
This isn't a new addition to the rules, but Masi is taking the opportunity to point them out again ahead of this race.
The message is clear, and Masi then pointed out the provisions of the ISC to hand out stringent punishments.
Referring to Article 12.4.5, he said disqualification or suspension is a possibility.
"For all the FIA championships, cups, challenges, trophies or series, the stewards may decide to impose the following penalties: suspension for one or more competitions, withdrawal of points for the championship, cup, challenge, trophy, series," reads the relevant article of the Sporting Code.
This would be a similar punishment to what was meted out to Ferrari's Michael Schumacher in 1997 after the German driver was ruled to have tried taking Williams' Jacques Villeneuve out of the European Grand Prix at Jerez. Schumacher was unsuccessful in his attempt, with Villeneuve winning the title on track anyway.
Red Bull or Mercedes won't be blameless
Whatever the actions of their drivers on track, the teams themselves have been warned not to try any unfair tactics in a bid to decide the title. For instance, this could mean using their second drivers to ruin the title fight through a collision or unfair driving.
Masi highlighted that such actions won't escape punishment and referred to Article 9.15.1.
The section reads: "The competitor [ie. the teams] shall be responsible for all acts or omissions on the part of any person taking part in, or providing a service in connection with, a competition or a championship on their behalf, including in particular their employees, direct or indirect, their drivers, mechanics, consultants, service providers, or passengers, as well as any person to whom the competitor has allowed access to the reserved areas."
As for the punishments, Masi stressed that any stripped points won't be deducted separately for the drivers and teams, meaning a hit in both championships. This will be the case, save in "exceptional circumstances".
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