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Russell: Penalty points need rethink amid Gasly ban threat

Pierre Gasly is on the verge of a Formula 1 race ban, with George Russell believing action needs to be taken to address the penalty points system.

GPDA director George Russell feels adjustments are needed to the Formula 1 penalty points system, with Pierre Gasly on the verge of a race ban. In 2014, penalty points began to be added to the Super Licence of each driver for incidents on track, such as causing collisions, exceeding track limits or other misdemeanours, with 12 penalty points triggering a one-race ban. As of the end of the 2022 season, no driver has yet reached 12 points, although Alpine-bound Gasly is on 10, with the Frenchman not set to lose any in a 12-month period until after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix - six races into the 2023 campaign. Faced with the possibility of a driver he does not consider "dangerous or reckless" receiving a ban, Russell admitted that a reconsideration of the rules is needed if Gasly fell foul of the system.

Russell on penalty points

"Conversations have been had and I think the FIA will definitely review the points system," Russell told media, including RacingNews365.com . "If any driver was to receive a race ban, it needs to be for something pretty damn serious, and I definitely don't put Pierre in the category of a dangerous or reckless driver. "A number of his penalty points have been through non-dangerous driving [such as exceeding track limits or dropping too far behind the Safety Car queue], so it would be a shame to see him take a race ban. "Even if he were to get those 12 points, I think we need to reconsider it."

Szafnauer suggestion

Gasly's new team boss Otmar Szafnauer has floated the idea of increasing the number of penalty points needed to activate the ban, given the number of races now on the calendar. Back in 2014, there were only 19 Grands Prix on the schedule with no sprint races. In the 2023 season, there are a planned 23 Grands Prix - which may rise to 24 if China returns to the calendar or an alternative race is arranged - with six sprints, accounting for a total of 29 events. Szafnauer believes this is unfair on drivers who have more opportunities to collect penalty points than nine years ago. The Alpine boss has suggested 14 or 15 penalty points as the new marker to force the one-race ban.

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