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Analysis: Should yellow cards be used to discipline F1 drivers?
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Pastor_Maldonado
Posted By: James Allen  |  05 Sep 2012   |  7:48 am GMT  |  120 comments

One of the collateral effects of the one race ban on Romain Grosjean for causing the startline pile up at Spa, is to ask questions about how Pastor Maldonado has so far avoided a similar ban.

Maldonado again firmly found himself under fire for his driving in Belgium with the Williams driver picking up penalties for three separate offences over the Spa weekend. It has raised questions about whether F1 should move towards a system of yellow cards, as in football, where an automatic ban is imposed once a certain number of yellow cards have been accrued.

While Romain Grosjean’s one-race suspension somewhat served to overshadow the severity of Maldonado’s own triple whammy of punishments, both drivers’ latest examples of wayward driving has served to opened up the debate surrounding the driving standards being diplayed by the latest generation of young guns entering F1 and in the junior series’.

Maldonado has been a persistent offender in that regard since the start of the season, and in his 2011 debut year to an extent, and research conducted by JA on F1 into the decisions handed down by the FIA stewards’ in 2012 is certainly rather damning. The Williams driver has now been punished for 10 separate offences across the 12 GPs to date with the most recent nine out these meted out in the seven events since his brilliant maiden win at the Spanish GP in May, a period in which he has also scored no points.

In total Maldonado has come to the attention of the stewards on 11 occasions and in only one of those instances was the respective charge not upheld. Since Monaco he has been in the stewards’ office at every event.

Here’s the full rundown:

China – Reprimand for impeding Heikki Kovalainen in qualifying.

Monaco – Ten-place grid penalty for colliding with Sergio Perez in final practice.

Canada – Cleared following accusations that he impeded Kimi Raikkonen in Q1.

Europe – €1,400 fine for speeding in the pit lane during final practice. / Twenty-second time penalty for colliding with Lewis Hamilton.

Britain – €10,000 fine and a reprimand for crashing into Sergio Perez.

Germany – €1,200 fine for speeding in the pit lane during first practice.

Hungary – Drive-through penalty for colliding with Paul di Resta.    

Belgium – Three-place grid penalty for impeding Nico Hulkenberg in qualifying. / Five-place grid penalty for the Italian GP for jumping the start. / Second five-place Italian GP grid penalty for causing a collision with Timo Glock.

In addition Maldonado has also taken three further five-place grid drops for gearbox changes – two of which, in Monaco and Canada, were more than likely self-inflicted owing to the fact they were preceded by crashes in final practice and qualifying respectively.

Unlike the football model, F1’s decision to ban Grosjean for Monza is the first example since 1994 of the sport’s authorities standing a driver down for a race or throwing them out of an event completely as punishment for a major driving offence.

Mid-way through last season a totting up procedure for reprimands was inserted into the sporting regultions to give that rebuke some official value, with Article 18.2 stating thatany driver who receives three reprimands in the same Championship season will, upon the imposition of the third, be given a ten grid place penalty at that Event” or following event if the indiscretion takes place during the race. Maldonado is therefore one more reprimand away from a further 10-place grid drop, but given he has picked up four qualifying penalties already this season, few would regard this as a meaningful punishment should it have to be applied in a bid to try and change his ways.

Maldonado did certainly serve notice of his erratic style through the junior ranks and so therefore provides an example of what both Stefano Domenicali and Fernando Alonso have spoken about since Sunday’s first-corner pile-up at Spa that more needs to be done to lay down the law to junior drivers before they get to F1. Their driver’s style is certainly a quandary for Williams who, irrespective of the large budget Maldonado brings with him from PDVSA, knows it has a potential star on its hands but one whose actions on track is consistently costing the team vital points in the battle for valuable constructors’ championship positions.

Given Maldonado, albeit in his fourth year in the feeder series, comfortably beat the very highly-regarded and potentially future Ferrari driver Sergio Perez to the 2010 GP2 title the raw talent certainly is there, but it may be down to Williams to try and curb his aggression before the FIA  is eventually forced to act with more severity.

 

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  1. TheGreatTeflonso says:

    I really hope someone steps in to seriously warn Maldonado. From a fan’s point of view, this years race as Spa was comparatively poor with what could have been, because of the pileup. At every race I find myself thinking I hope my drivers aren’t near Grosjean at the start and aren’t near Maldonado anywhere. Why should fans be left feeling that way when there has obviously been ample warning from the usual suspects? Why should the championship be significantly affected by a couple of bumbling drivers who aren’t even in the title fight in any way shape or form? Because these two aren’t racing for the title, they take more risk, and everyone else suffers. I think the same disregard should be shown toward them, particularly for Maldonado who apparently displays no remorse for any incidents he is in. I hope this doesn’t come off as a rant, but frankly this was shaping up to be a stunning championship year and I believe the recent incident has probably decided the title, for Vettel.

    1. Stewart says:

      +1
      If I don’t watch qualifying, the first thing I check is where Kimi is (usually a recipe for disappointment), then where Pastor is to see what the chances of his race being compromised a la Valencia are.

      1. Kit says:

        Oddly enough, nowadays I find myself involuntarily focusing on who’s one place ahead and behind Maldonado, first, and then the pre race grid positions of other drivers.

    2. **Paul** says:

      Interesting to note that Maldonardo, Perez and Hamilton are all in the top four most penalised drivers this year, and were also in the top four last year. Perhaps clamping down on GP2 drivers would be a good start.

      1. Wayne says:

        Has Hamilton been penalised that much this year? Twice isn’t it, and one of those was the team’s fault – can’t recall the other.

      2. Andrew C says:

        You’re correct. Hamilton has probably been the second most consistent driver this year yet for some reason, there are F1 fans out there who seem to want to drag 2011 into this year and pretend he’s carried on his mistakes. I don’t get it.

      3. Kidza says:

        Gearbox penalty!

      4. Yos says:

        So what are Hamilton’s crime that put him in the top four this season? Gear box change and underfueled in qualyfing if i am right. Why don’t ge your facts right, driver depenendent penaltys are crushing, blocking someone in qualyfing, peeding in the pltlane, jum starting…

    3. Wayne says:

      Agree with this completely, I feel the exact same way about the positions at the start of the race. When I discovered that the slew of penalties had conspired to put Hamilton within reach of Maldonado I was despondent for Hamilton’s chances (seems I picked the wrong person to worry about this time). For me, Maldonado’s worst offence so far by some way (and one which should have seen him given an instant race ban) was when he deliberately chopped across Hamilton’s nose in an attempt to hit him in (I think) qualy for Spa 2011.

      These drivers are trying to carve themselves a reputation as someone risky to pass or to defend against in the hope that other drivers will (with this reputation in place) defend against them or attack them less vigorously or, crucially, hesitate. Hamilton did it over his first few seasons, but he has chilled a bit now and all the other drivers have wised up to the tactic.

      However, what infuriates me more than anything is that pundits always want to try an apportion some part of the blame to the victims. I have no idea if this is driven by a media savvy, ill placed and false need to be ‘fair’ and offer balance but it is the sort of cowardly commentary I despise. Say it like it is for goodness sake! Comments like ‘the driver who was hit could have bailed out’ or’ the driver who was hot was on worn tyres and should have given up the position’ utterly infuriate me – I do not tune into F1 to see drivers handing over places or bailing out of every encounter. I want to see bloody racing (something that modern F1 is in danger of legislating out of existence). Penalise the guy who was at fault, sure, but stop suggesting that the victim should have been intimidated out of the way!

      Also their behaviour is likely to speed along a fundamental change to the formula with the introduction of some sort of canopy structure despite their not being a fatality in F1 for around 25 years. You will note that there are incredibly serious accidents happening in other formula all the time (such as Rallying i.e. Kubica) where drivers are fully enclosed in a crash structure and sometimes it is that very structure that causes injury or hinders medical teams. I realise this has been coming anyway, but there are always those who want to leap in headfirst with a knee jerk reaction, and these guys are giving them the excuse they need. I say change the driver’s mentality rather than change an historic formula.

      1. Chapor says:

        Erm… Last fatality was 18 years ago according to my maths…

      2. Greg says:

        Monza 2000, Melbourne 2001??

        More like 11 years ago, or do Marshalls deaths not mean as much as drivers?

      3. Chapor says:

        @ Greg… Since the discussion is about canopy structures to prevent possible driver fatalities, I do not see a point in your comment.

      4. Greg says:

        I am simply stating that the last fatality at a Formula 1 event was not 18 years ago.

        It annoys me to no end that people over look marshalls, people must remember they are putting their lives on the line, for something we enjoy.

        Paolo Ghislimberti and Graham Beveridge were two men just as Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna were two men. Their deaths may have drawn as much attention but they were just as tragic.

      5. Greg says:

        *may not have

      6. Graham says:

        “despite their not being a fatality in F1 for around 25 years”

        Really?
        Someone needs to go back to Maths 101

      7. Wayne says:

        Well that’s a helpful and polite reply. Why not just state when the last fatality was and be helpful?

      8. G says:

        Wayne, its all out there, do some research
        Senna @ San Marino 1994
        Marshall @ Australia 2001

      9. Paul Kirk says:

        I agree with you TOTALLY, Wayne. We just CAN’T have these young guys getting out of control (of themselves) and creating caios!
        Look at the damage Grojon caused and the cost to many teams in terms of money and results! (Just at Spa alone).
        Who pays for the damage he caused? Also who pays the fines? I certainly hope the fines come out of their wages!
        And as for Malderado, well, didn’t he drive into somebody on purpose? (Previously). He shouldn’t be alowed on a race track, he obviously loses control of his brain!
        Seems they don’t realise they’re in control of a projectile that can kill people, and it’s way bigger than a rifle bullet! Pretty serious responsibility!
        PK.

  2. Dmitry says:

    I predict… a “ban!” for Pastor after his Monza crash (hopefully without severe consequences)

  3. B Grylls says:

    There is one single word that describes the problem: INCONSISTENCY.

    Problem 1: RULES
    As in any other sport, F1 should have a clear and consistent regulation that serves the purpose of deterring dangerous driving. A simple system based on escalation could look like this:
    First offense: Warning
    Second offense: Grid / time / drive-through penalty
    Third offense: 1 race ban
    Fourth offense: 3 race bans
    Fifth offense: suspended super-license

    Problem 2. STEWARDS
    It is somewhat mind-challenging that the stewarts are replaced at every single event and that there are no requirements for qualifications or standardized assessment criterias of driving incidents. A good analogy is football, where a ref in a WC needs to have a very strong track record as football ref, which also requires a basic training. It is ridiculous that the stewards’ judging is straight subjective and made on an ad-hoc basis.

    Furthermore, a race incident is, where the driver is at fault, should allways be regarded the same, regardless of who is driving or what the effects are. Of course, some incidents may be more sever than others and should possibly lead to a stronger punishment.

    BG

    1. Satish says:

      Spot on! This is where the FIA FAILS big time.

      I sometimes feel that Webber is penalized more for changing his gear boxes (due to mechanical failure) than some of these regularly errant drivers are for their improper racing standards.

      1. Wayne says:

        This is a GREAT point, Satish. How can it possibly be justified for the penalty for changing a failed mechanical part be the same or less than the penalty for dangerous driving? This clearly highlights a bizarre priority list for the FIA.

      2. B Grylls says:

        Well, the penalty for changing gearbox originates from the resource restriction agreement (to prevent teams with thick wallets having the advantage of racing brand new components every race).

        The intersting thing though is that FIA in this respect DO show a great deal of consistency…

        BG

      3. JF says:

        I second Wayne here. Great point Satish. I also agree with BG on his point system. I think some of these guys want to be considered “racers” since that is where perceived glory lies, but carry it too far.

    2. Jon T says:

      They change all of the stewards? I was aware they had a single rotating “driver steward” on the panel to add perspective but I’d hope the panel was generally the same across the season, or at least pulled from a small pool of 5 or 6 regular members.

      James, is this correct?

      1. B Grylls says:

        In any case, the stewards do display very little consistency in their decisions regardless of the amount of rotation.

        BG

      2. Andrew M says:

        Tony Scott Andrews acted as the permanent race steward during the 2006-07 season. When he stepped down I believe the position was quietly disbanded.

        One thing is for certain – having former drivers advising the stewards has done very little to aid consistency. If anything, steward decisions over the last 18 months have been more inconsistent than ever.

    3. thejudge13 says:

      I think when exluding a driver from a race weekend, the car should also be excluded. The team and driver share all other penalties (except monetary ones), why should there be any difference for race bans.

      This may make the team bosses lean a little more heavily on their drivers to bring them in line.

      1. B Grylls says:

        No, that wouldn’t make sense. The car is owned by the team and the driver is employed by the team. An analogy would be football: a banned football player may be replaced for the next game (you never see a team starting with 10 players on the pitch).

    4. James Enocre says:

      James is spot on with this, Maldonado has been a menace to other drivers, but he is fast. Unlike Grosjean (who has caused a big start line incident in Monaco) – he has only taken one driver out at a time.

      The ideal of “driving fouls” which attract penalties, is good. I don’t know if it should be be basketball style (Commit 5 fouls – however minor and you’re substituted off for the rest of the game) – which is what you are suggesting ( a speed limiter issue in the pits, an overtake with 4 wheels off the track and the next offence carries a ban)
      or football style (Commit as many fouls as you like provided they’re minor, with cards for serious offences) – which is what James suggested. The issue is that stewarding is inconsitent (so are football refs, but less so) and what might get a card one weekend won’t the next.

      In a collision it can be hard to know how to assign the blame. Take Maldonado and Hamilton last year at Monaco. Hamilton got the blame for trying a carbon copy of a pass he had done on schumacher. Maldonado didn’t see him and they colided. Was that anti-Hamilton bias ? Or was it “well you got away with it on Michael because he’s super powers of awareness you can’t expect Pastor to have” Should it have been “Look, Pastor if Michael could see him coming you should too” Or was it just six of one and half a dozen of the other ?
      Beacuse if we’re handing out bans, won’t that put pressure on the stewards to call more things racing incidents ?

      What I’m sure of is if is clear that you cost someone a finish it should be more than a drive through / grid drop Penalty.

      Maybe it should be like a driving licence with points. Stewards award penalty points along with drive throughs and grid places (1 for impeding in qualifying, ignoring blue flags, or overtaking off the track, Up to 4 for nerfing someone off the track). Get to, say, 10 and you sit out a race. Get another 5 and you sit another race…

      1. Toleman fan says:

        > Unlike Grosjean (who has caused a big start line incident in Monaco) – he has only taken one driver out at a time.

        Isn’t that because his accidents have tended either to be deliberate or reckless (‘give way or we crash!’), whereas Grosjean’s been a bit over-aggressive / over-optimistic, but mostly just insufficiently aware of what’s going on around him?

        I can’t help feeling that Grosjean’s been punished partly for the -consequences- of his mistake, and partly for his history, not really for the severity of the actual mistake. The first is not IMO how a well formed set of rules should work, and the second shouldn’t need to be imposed arbitrarily when the FIA already has a system of suspended punishments.

        Grosjean probably should have been given a 1 race ban after Monaco, suspended till the end of the season. Then it would have been obvious that the Spa accident would trigger it. I’d suggest that Maldonado’s probably earned about 3 suspended one race bans at this point…

    5. Nick says:

      You are correct.

    6. zx6dude says:

      Spot on. I would like to add that if the driver is banned, the car should be banned too. It is a team sport and drivers get penalized for mechanical failures, so the team should be penalized for their driver’s behaviour.

      I also believe bringing back testing would help the new generation: more time in the car, more experience, more spacial awareness, etc.

      FIA: “It eliminated leading championship contenders from the Race” as a reason for RG’s ban? If it eliminated Pic or De la Rosa or any of the non-championship contenders, it wouldn’t matter??? Talk about double standards.
      http://184.106.145.74/fia-f1/f1-2012/f1-2012-12/Formula%201%20Belgian%20Grand%20Prix%202012%20DocumentNumber-56.pdf

  4. tom in adelaide says:

    Seems like a reasonable idea, however I think the car should sit out too.

    As for Maldonad’oh, clearly money talks.

    1. Wayne says:

      Agree and Agree. The driver is an employee of the team. The team should not be able to enter the car without the driver who is banned.

      Maldonaldo’s GP2 sucess or not, he would NOT be in that Williams now (nor would he have started there) were it not for the huge amount of sponsorship he brings to the team. Anyone, the team included, who denies this is willfully being obtuse.

      1. James Draper says:

        Or any points collected by the DQ’d car are disqualified from the Con Champ so the fans get a full grid to watch and potentially get to watch a respectful driver.

    2. Marcelo Valois says:

      MaldonaD’Oh! was fantastic! :-)

      Also, in Brasil we mispell his name as “MalDanado” on purpose, which means something like “darn evil”. ;-)

      1. Mitchel says:

        +1. I always loved the nickname Teflonso too, very droll

  5. Alejandro W. says:

    Definetely, this kid needs a serious wake up call. I dont understand why the FIA permits all these shenanigans from Maldonado.

  6. mehluli ndebele says:

    Maldonado is so aggressive in his driving, he even crashed in a demonstration run

    1. Chris says:

      HAHAHAHA – made me laugh out loud – sums this joker up really!

    2. Satish says:

      That almost sounds like a Chuck Norris joke.

      1. Wayne says:

        Maldonado doesn’t Viagra, Viagra takes Maldonado.

      2. renato nysan says:

        you don’t seem to believe…

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-k9bZKn6JEU

      3. Eric says:

        That is a really worrying accident. Fans in close proximity with no safety barriers and he puts the car on the ragged edge and has a crash. Could have been a lot worse.

  7. Scott says:

    TheGreatTeflonso, agree completely.

    Hamilton ‘on tilt’ is just as bad as Maldonado, people forget the indiscretions if the driver win them points..

  8. Rachel says:

    I’d like to see something like that. A clear pathway of penalties, which accumulate. The whole season and pattern of behaviour should be looked at, not just what happens at a single race.

  9. MrT says:

    Perhaps they should use the system of adding points to drivers racing licences that is common in other categories, such as BTCC.
    If they did a points system where 1-3 were handed out for most offences (though more if necessary), then once a driver reaches 12 penalty points, they get a race ban – and only wipe a maximum of 6 points over the winter to keep those that run it close on their toes the following season.
    Should anyone get a race ban and then incur further points, then subsequent race bans would be at the discretion of stewards.

    1. Justin says:

      This seems most sensible of suggestions I’ve seen. Looking at Maldonado’s season thus far I’d have him on 22 points. So he’d already have had a one race ban, and close to a second ban.

    2. Eric says:

      Great idea – I was about to suggest the same thing.

      I think there should be no difference between driving standards on the road and on the track in terms of safety and respect for other drivers’ safety.

      If drivers get too many points I think their license should be suspended until next season. This would keep drivers’ mind on avoiding accidents at all costs considering the severity of the penalty possible. A points system would do as intended and punish multiple offenders.

  10. Kedar says:

    well how about a Red card for Maldonado? I mean Grosjean has been quite appalling with all his crashes but the guy owns his mistakes and apologizes.
    Maldonado seems to always blame the others. I think he takes this thing about “Racer instinct” way too seriously than he should.

  11. Eugene Ryder says:

    I think there’s a strong case for this idea. Hamilton has impressed me this year with his restraint – he’s obviously sorted something out in his head, but there was a time when he’d get a warning for something like weaving in one race, and then get another warning, or nothing at all, for doing the same thing a few races later. It never accumulated, even though he continued to do the same type of thing.
    The only difference with the current situation is the dramatic incidents that are happening now.

    Of course, the downside of such a system is that it quickly becomes part of the strategy: If a championship contender is on a yellow card, his competitors’ teammates might just accidently on purpose cause him to get another…

  12. Oliver N says:

    F1 has a long standing system for monitoring and disciplining driver conduct, drive through penalties, black flags (when did you last see one of those), and a panel of stewards staffed by experts with a range of sanctions available to them.
    F1 doesn’t need a new system, it just needs to use the one it has, better. Personally I think the stewards have stuck their noses in far too much in recent years. How often have you switched your TV off at the end of the race, only to find out later that the finishing order has been changed. However I think they need to spend half a season seriously cracking down on bad behaviour with instant drive through penalties. The drivers will get the message, or more likely the teams will sort out or fire the drivers after their sponsors start wondering why their logos are associated with the wrong type of coverage.

  13. Monza01 says:

    Yes, we know he’s quick and if it wasn’t for the huge pile of cash that Sir Frank desperately needs, surely he would have been replaced by now ?

    It’s inconceivable that Sir Frank hasn’t been having very strong conversations with his driver but it isn’t working : and we obviously can’t expect him to be replace any time soon because of the money.

    If there was any chance of dumping him is would surely have happened after the utter stupidity seen in that demo run at home in Caracas. You would have thought that the embarrassment was so acute that it would have tested the support even of Petroleos de Venezuela SA, the state oil company which provides the cash.

    This guy has obviously learnt nothing and the team apparently can’t sack him so it therefore has to be up to the FIA to do something about him before someone gets hurt.

    Let’s hope for the team’s sake that their contract ensures that the sponsorship can’t be withdrawn when Maldonado inevitably has his Superlicence cancelled.

    Welcome back Rubens !

  14. Arnie S says:

    Wasn’t JP Montoya black-flagged for something he did – I don’t think it was a technical flag. Please update me!

    1. SD says:

      He was black-flagged in Canada one year for ignoring the red light at pit exit.

    2. Andy I says:

      yes, leaving the pitlane in canada on a red light, to try and get in front of the safety car train

    3. Dizzy says:

      JPM was black flagged at the 2005 Canadian Gp for exiting the pit lane while the red light was on.

      Massa & Fisichella got the same penalty for the same offence in the 2007 race.

  15. Andy Dudley says:

    Have we not already got “yellow cards” in the form of Maldonado’s penalties so far? Obviously the stewards are watching him and are punishing him with everything they can within the rules and their powers, and it will be interesting to see if they do impose the 10-place penalty you mention James.

    However, I agree – this slap on the wrists is unlikely to have any effect.

    While I think Grosjean’s penalty is harsh, I remember many people calling for Schumacher to be banned after his aggressive behaviour in Hungary 2010 when he pushed Barrichello very close to the wall. The difference being is that Schumacher pushed Barichello close, but did not cause an accident while Grosjean did. If memory serves, Michael was given a grid penalty for the following race. It’s unfortunate that the wording of the steward’s verdict suggests that it’s only because he took out championship contenders he received the ban.

    Personally, Like Tom in Adelaide, I’d like to see that it is the driver and car that receives the ban. What is the point of banning Maldonado, who let’s be honest, isn’t a championship contender, when Williams could simply drop the next state-owned-petroleum-backed driver into the car?

    1. Monza01 says:

      Penalties should only be set for the offence, not the consequences.

      Schumacher should have received a race ban because what he did to Rubens was deliberate and extremely dangerous.

      Grosjean’s latest incident was not as serious an incident but happened to have consequences that were worse.

      In truth, we all know that, without a degree of luck, any of these incidents could have fatal consequences so serious penalties are justified.

      Teams are responsible for keeping their drivers in check so if a driver receives a ban, a driver substitution should not be allowed.

      It follows that it’s only right that there should be a clear path towards the withdrawal of a superlicence followed by at least one full season in a specified lower formula.

      A licence would only be withdrawn after several repeatedly serious offences about which the team has obviously failed to take any effective action.

      Clearly Maldonado and Williams are in that zone but the huge amount of money Maldonado brings to the team makes it almost impossible for Sir Frank to sack him and the driver knows it. This is not a tenable situation.

      Therefore, in the event of the withdrawal of a Superlicence, the team should not be allowed to run that car for the rest of the season, thus depriving the team of points and a lot of money for the following year.

      That’s the only way to ensure that sponsorship money doesn’t prevent a team from meeting it’s obligations to the sport and the rest of the drivers by taking proper, effective action.

      If this was the current rule, would Maldonado still be in a Williams ?

      I doubt it.

  16. paul martin says:

    on a different note entirely i notice alex zinardi is competing at brands today in the paralympics, i think this makes him one of the few sportsmen to transfer sports at the highest levels and probably the only one to do it at a venue at which he has competed in the past at his previous sport. he took his first major pole position at brands in 1991 in a f3000 race.Unique ,outstanding and totally inspiring go alex ! As far as Maldonaldo is concerned he should be pasturised !

    1. Alastair says:

      Or put out to pastore?

  17. Andrew Kirk says:

    Something needs to be done a with Maldonado as he has been crashing into pretty much anything. I couldn’t believe he did not get thrown out of last years Belguim GP after willing hitting Lewis side on during qualifying. F1 will always have drivers who are abit wild like him, Sato, Ralf Schumacher etc but it needs to show these guys either stop it and improve or sit on the bench.

  18. Matt W says:

    Why does the wheel need to be invented here? I remember a system in place in the 90s (which I can’t believe is not in place now) where drivers would have suspended race bans and the system worked perfectly well. Villenueve for instance had a habit of ignoring yellow flags in 2007 and his suspended ban and susequent DQ from the Japanese GP served as a healthy reminder to all to adhere to the marshals instructions.

    The FIA did that huge overhaul of the regulations after the 2002 season (which I can only assume removed suspended sentences) and since then it seems like control and consistency has been completely forgotten and replaced with decisions designed to add spice and a greater lurch to appease political influences.

    Getting the regulations enforced properly should be the priority concern of the governing body. New rules don’t need to be invented, apply the current rules they have consistently, openly and fairly and driver behaviour can be cleaned up.

    1. Matt W says:

      Sorry I meant Villenueve had a habit of ignoring flags in 1997, can’t believe that was 15 years ago!

  19. Davexxx says:

    Wow just want to say THANKS James for this piece! You had to do a lot of homework for all the information, and, I’ve been waiting for just such an informative and concise article/subject. I’m fed up with Maldonado and it was a shame I thought “Good” when he went out of the last race, I don’t normally think that of any driver.

    1. MISTER says:

      Exactly my thoughts

  20. Tom says:

    I prefer the sin bin (10 minutes sitting on the sidelines, watching your teammates struggle without you). Works a treat in rugby and hockey, I wish football would bring it in – maybe it has a place in F1 for qualifying offences like whatever Maldonado did to Hulkenberg on Saturday.

    I’d like to see race bans added to the rule book as punishment for multiple reprimands. That’d be more of a deterrent than grid penalties – as you say, few would regard those as a meaningful punishment. And no big problem for the teams – most of them have a third driver attending each event and ready to go (or can borrow one) and it’s good to see some different drivers now and again!

  21. JR says:

    There is already a regulation in place, that if a driver is reprimanded more than the minimum allowed a race ban follows.

  22. Anton says:

    I vote to paint Maldonado’s car bright yellow for the next event instead.

    1. stoic little says:

      Make that bright orange with ambulance lights on top.

    2. Kay says:

      I vote to do a “Carmageddon” paint job on his car. No difference afterall really :)
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/21508593@N05/7937285722/sizes/l/in/photostream/

  23. Mike Lea says:

    Maldonado has blistering raw pace, but he isn’t applying it. Williams should be up with Mercedes in the constructors’ standings, given how good the car is. Barrichello would have bagged plenty of top 5 results this yr were he still driving for the team. Williams obviously can’t sack Maldonado because he brings too many dollars to the team…It’s a shame to see such a great team, finally having made a decent car again, languishing so far down in the points. I’d love to see them land some big blue chip title sponsors and have the freedom to sign experienced, top-line drivers again. Imagine what Kimi could have done in that car had he signed this yr?

    1. JK says:

      I think you will be surprised by the number of drivers in the current grid lineup with ‘blistering pace’ if they too over committed and took risks to the degree Maldonado does.

      I just believe Maldonado is more of a gambler than others. He takes risks to a higher plane than others. When you push to the extremes of margin, tolerance window can be very narrow. On the plus side he pulls off the occasional good results, but all at the cost of consistency(which he cannot sustain) and accidents.

      I too would love to see Williams blessed with results it deserves.

      There are lots of frustrated people, like Sauber team, who can do nothing about the problems. At least for Williams they have the power to change their own destiny at their choosing…

  24. DMyers says:

    The perfect opportunity for the FIA to start clamping down on driving standards was missed with Hamilton’s behaviour last year, and Maldonado certainly has been lucky to avoid major censure this season.

    There is actually a precedent for them revoking a driver’s licence, after Yuji Ide’s poor showing for Super Aguri at the start of 2006. His crash with Albers at the start in Imola was less serious than that of Grosjean’s last weekend, but his conduct, and lack of experience, was sufficient for the FIA to advise the team to stand him down and revoke the licence.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      Very different case. Ide proved that he wasn’t cut out for F1, Maldonado is definitely good enouhg for F1 but his driving standards are really poor.

  25. the worse thing is using the car to drive into other people you are angry with, he’s done that already twice – no accident, no reason, just pure anger. that should be enough to ban him for life

    1. Kay says:

      I think he just takes F1 as more like a Destruction Derby type of racing. Since his daddy can pay off various officials, he don’t need to care **** what he does. Hence his driving attitude.

      http://www.flickr.com/photos/21508593@N05/7937285722/sizes/l/in/photostream/

  26. Ben B says:

    What if they implement a rule where a driver has to pay to repair his car (and any other he has taken out) from his own wages if a collision is his fault. That thought makes me more careful on the roads!!!

    Or, better still, also do the actual repairs. Now that would be funny – especially if they are as good at repairs as I am!!

    1. Chapor says:

      Interesting as it might be, having my car repaired by a fellow driver that has crashed into me.. I don’t know if I would trust that car doing 300kph…

  27. JK says:

    It seems to me that grid penalties (with current qualifying rules where 10th and below can employ different strategies) and fines simply do not serve as enough of a determent.

    Back in the days when safety was not as high as it is now, racers had to calculate risk taking with possible death in mind. That’s a deterrent for reckless behaviour, if there ever was one.

    IF they have everything to gain and nothing to lose by gambling at the start for a massive gain (except for these luke warm punishments which serve as no deterrent) I feel points stripping (taking away what has been earned in prior races – this must surely hurt more than fines or grid places) and/or race bans are the way to go forward to make these people with thick skins understand something.

    They are racing for positions, which translate to points. Results are shown in currency of points. Hit them where it hurts.

    Make them pay in points. If they are too poor points-wise, they are bankrupt, so ban them from participating by dishing out race ban(s).

    It will be nice to have a fixed standard, and a panel of stewards that is deemed neutral. People have raised consistency issues which I agree with.

    I quite like the yellow card idea. Number of reprimands sounds good too.

    But my point is, grid penalties should be for mechanically related penalties.

    1. Andrew Carter says:

      I disagree. I hate the current system where a driver gets a penalty for gearbox or engine change, something he largely has nothing to do with. I always felt taking away constructor points for that would be a better punishment.

      1. snailtrail says:

        Could not agree more – why is a driver given a penalty for a teams fault? – it doesn’t make any sense.
        If an engine/gearbox breaks removing team points makes a lot more sense.

  28. Luke Potter says:

    I get a bit frustrated with 10-place grid penalties as it makes the result artificial.

    I’d be for the yellow/red card system – the first “10-place grid penalty” becomes a yellow card (i.e. no penalty), but the next 10-place grid penalty becomes a red card with an automatic one-race ban. Obviously that’s just for incidents, not engine changes etc.

    Another point that I think is important is that the odd one-race ban provides opportunities for young drivers to have a go at a race and potentially get themselves noticed. That’s no bad thing at all.

    1. Kay says:

      I think 10-grid penalties, regardless of red/yellow cards, are pointless.

      So say an HRT causes a huge crash and someone nearly got killed, FIA slaps a 10-grid place penalty to them.

      What’s the difference? They’re stone last all the time anyway.

  29. The punishments need to be re-assessed. I argue that compliance will be more effectively achieved by denying the driving experience. I see a framework where grid penalties are used much less and race bans are issued more: in this regime, blocking a driver in qualifying will exclude you from qualifying at the next event. The applicable penalties would also see Romain Grosjean banned for two races and not just one.

    As stated above, Article 18.2 already makes a provision for the punishment of drivers who repeatedly contravene the rules. In effect a yellow card system does exist in that repeated incidents will result in some kind of reprimand. It doesn’t matter how you ‘badge’ or communicate the penalty as long as there is some consistency in the application of penalties.

    The yellow card discussion does raise some interesting points. In Football yellow cards are handed out during the game, they are not applied after the game. Formula One should perhaps think about applying penalties during an race or race weekend. When was the last time a black flag was shown to a driver?

    When a footballer is sent off the pitch after being shown a red card for a third offense, they are denied the privilege of being able to finish the game. In International compition this is more acute.

    F1 need to deny repeat offenders of the experience that they desire. Romain Grosjean is about to understand what this feels like at the weekend.

    As the article mentions, the FIA hasn’t removed anyone from a race since 1994: it is therefore clear that they habitually don’t take tough enough action against drivers.

  30. Jomar says:

    It would be interesting to see some sort of F1 lifetime statistic for drivers crashes. Something like this:

    - 2 points for each crash where the driver is at fault; one point if the driver could have done something to avoid the crash; and none if he was blind-sided. Crashes without fault determined (or racing incidents) should give one point to each driver. Only crashes that results in non-finishes or needs for repairs for one or both drivers should count. 1 point for impeding or speeding resulting in a penalty.

    - Total number of points should be divided by number of GP starts for each individual driver.

    Does anything like this exist out there?

  31. Matt says:

    If the stewards just went ahead and gave Maldonado a race ban when they should have done, when it was clear as day he deliberately crashed into Perez, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. He had previous at Spa 2011, so there was no excuse.

    What Grosjean did was dangerous, and deserved a ban because, as in football, red cards are also there to protect others, not just for acts of malice. But it was a mistake, unlike Maldonado’s incidents. That is a crucial difference and let’s hope the FIA act before it’s too late.

  32. AndyFov says:

    Rather then give a qualifying place penalty or a ban for causing and avoidable first corner incident, I think it’d make more sense to make the driver start from the pit lane during the next race once all the other cars have passed.

    I guess that’s a punishment that’d hit the faster qualifying teams harder than it would the likes of HRT, but it’d rally hammer home the message that “you can come and start with the pack once you’re less of a menace.”

    As for Maldonado, I’m not sure whether I’ve ever said this before, but I think F1 needs the odd Dick Dastardly character. ;)

    Just so long that no one gets hurt!

  33. Alfons says:

    In a larger sense its pretty embarrassing for F1 being the pinnacle of motorsport to have such undisciplined drivers up and down the grid.

    Although in contrast you have rookies like Charles Pic fighting wheel to wheel fairly with Glock which does show that not ALL rookies are crazy and violent.
    Maldonado seems like an incarnation of Andrea De-Cesaris at times.

    1. Marcelo Valois says:

      I thought that I was the only one that saw that great Marussia duel!

    2. Toleman fan says:

      It’s a pity that they were having such a great time they didn’t bother with the blue flags.

  34. Andrew Carter says:

    It’s good to see that the FIA is finally beginning to take driving standards seriously, but for me it’s a case of 25 years too late. The blatent blocking and then intimidation tactics both employed against other drivers was never punished, despite the obvious dangers they imposed. The result is we’ve had several generations of drivers growing up thinking it’s fine to swerve at your opposition and Maldonado is the result.

    Having said that driving standards in recent years have been OK, most incidents have tended to be marginal and I’d rather see drivers having a go than hanging back and doing nothing. Even with Grosjean most of his incidents have been marginal and a slight touch with a front wing is to be expect from someone at every race. The fact that he’s done it so often this year has put the spot light on him and the serious error in judgement at Spa got him a deserved ban, lets hope it’s the last of his incidents.

    Maldonado is a different matter. He piles into corners all crossed up and wipes out his opponents, usually in a way that lets him carry on, and lets not even start on the deliberate sideswipes. The real difference between Pastor and Romain for me is that he never excepts blame for naything he does, rather like Senna and Schumacher in that respect. He keeps getting punished with penalties but it’s long passed time that he was handed a ban, I’ll be surprised to see him in Singapore.

  35. Anil says:

    Sounds like a great idea to me. The whole ’10 place grid drop’ if you get 3 reprimands just makes no sense as it doesn’t seem like a fair punishment, whereas race bans might make people think just a bit more.

    As long as there’s consistency with how they are dished out I am all for it.

  36. ArJay says:

    Krash-kid this year…title-contender in 2013.
    Hope Williams retains Maldonado…
    Potential to be unlocked.

  37. Rudy says:

    The responsible for these inconsistency is the maFIA. Drivers come and go and the rules are the same. What’s the point on appointing ex-F1 drivers -from the Ice Age- for the stewards panel ? The problem is not with who rules what, but what rules to apply. In that sense a “logical” penalty system may be presented to the World Sport Council, one in which actual drivers, teams and the maFIA agree. As someone said upstairs, it’s not on the same logic parameter to hand out a 5-place grid penalty for a gearbox than a driving offense. Driving offenses should be punished removing championship points, both on WC and CC. Maldonado on this basis would calm down, be sacked by the team or be at “zero” points.

  38. dave mingay says:

    The list of his indiscretions doesn’t include Australia where he took out Grosjean in an absurd passing move from too far back. How the stewards missed that one when we could all see it on telly amazes me.
    Time for a red card!
    What a dilemma for Frank, to have two unacceptable drivers on whose money he depends. I guess that’s an addiction?

  39. Kay says:

    I have no idea why, but reading James’ looonnnnng list of Maldo’s offences just made me LAUGH OUT LOUD! Jeez this is like a joke!

    Seriously though, I like the yellow card idea. Before implementing that though, kick Maldo and Grosjean away from F1 for life first. We definitely can do without them before they cause further harm. Though I gotta say, at least the latter is apologetic; the former? He always just lays blame on the other and never admit any wrongdoings.

  40. Daniel MA says:

    Well I think Maldonado and Grosjean for that matter are acting a bit recklessly because they’re in competitive cars and are closer to the front just like they were on GP2, slowly but surely they will become less aggressive because they’ll realize that unlike GP2, this cars have different levels of performance and just being aggressive is not enough to beat the cars in front.

  41. meltwaterfalls says:

    Sounds like a pretty sensible idea to me.

    However more importantly and unrelated to this topic, can I just say a big best of luck to Alex Zanardi who is just about to head out in the handcycling at the Paralympics around Brands Hatch!!

  42. Duffy says:

    You euros and your yellow cards! what a joke, the only thing that impresses these drivers and teams is when you hit them in the wallet. I don’t mean those little fines they’ve been giving Maldonado, what’s $10,000 to a guy making millions, I mean ban the team and the driver for multiple races. No matter how much money he brings to the team if they’re not on the race track it’s over.
    Either that or don’t do anything and tell them all, Hey guys, that’s racin’ have at it!
    Remember it takes two balls to play this sport!

  43. Edmundo Gonzalez says:

    As far as I remember the GP2 season where Maldonado won that championship, Perez was taken out at least 6 times by other drivers and i think twice by Maldonado. So I dont really regard that championship as dominant by him. If I dont remember correctly please correct me.

    On the other hand, I think i would copy soccer penalty system but with three tiers. 3 reprimands convert to a 5 or 10 grid penalty. And 20 grid penalty places covert to a race ban. Of course this would only take into account driver penalties, not engine or gearbox changes. I think this would give a lot more meaning to the grid penalties and hopefully would net us a campionship where nobody would have to be banned.

    And I also agree with ferrari about using the same criteria in gp2 and gp3.

  44. Luis says:

    Maldonado should be racing Nascars instead of F1s …

    1. Elie says:

      You mean dodgems lol ..

  45. P Alliot says:

    Pastor Maldonado has a history of escaping the consequences of reckless driving with money:

    In 2005, he was banned for life after he ignored yellow flags at Monaco in Renault World Series, ran over a Marshall and broke his back. Maldonado’s father intervened and paid off the family concerned and smoothed things over.

    In GP2 he frequently resorted to using his car as a weapon, for example Spa 2009, Hockenheim 2010 – (against Grosjean!)

    Also known in junior formulae for ‘accidents’ blocking circuit during qualy after setting good times himself.

    There are many young drivers in lower formulas as fast as he is … but lacking the cash to paper over their red mist moments, and buy a seat in F1.

    1. CanadaGP says:

      Pastor is a child of privilege. In Latin American society, if your family has the money and influence you can literally buy or threaten your way out of very serious offenses. Even more so when the president of the country has your back. Maldonado sees the world in a different lens from what most people in this site do. It can be very dangerous when a child of privilege is weilding a 300 kph weapon.

  46. Ben G says:

    No, only red ones.

  47. Colin says:

    What about adding a team penalty to drivers who are consistently getting penalties. Maybe for every race ban a driver gets a team looses one day of testing at the start of next year. Or for x number of penalties by one driver in one year the team looses x number of constructor points.

    I know a penalty already hurts a team with the chance of scoring points (or more points) in a race, but a team centered penalty may encourage the teams to correct their driver actions with more urgency. Especially if the team penalty increases significantly for repeat offenders.

  48. knoxploration says:

    Yes, there should be a yellow card system, and yes it should be enforced firmly. We’re talking about driver safety here, and the kind of driving regularly demonstrated by Maldonado and certain others is downright dangerous. It’s high time that we showed some responsibility, and made a ruling *before* somebody gets killed.

    What’s more important, though, is that the drivers are punished not on what the result of their actions are, but on what potentially *could* have happened.

    Does anybody here think that Grosjean would have been penalized with a ban if he’d merely taken out a backmarker or two? No, and that is just wrong. Penalizing Grosjean in this manner solely because he took out a couple of the frontrunners is absolutely wrong. It shows us to be playing favorites, it downplays and belittles the efforts of the backmarkers, and it makes it clear that we’re not interested in safety in the least.

    And then we have the pit lane incidents, plus Schumacher’s dangerous cut across the front of another car to dive to the pit entry from the wrong side of the track, all of which went basically unpenalized. All three were dangerous, and all three merited action from the stewards–but because nobody in a championship-winning car found themselves out of the race, we largely ignored the incidents.

    It’s also high time that we banned cars driving side by side and/or overtaking in the fast lane of the pit lane, or driving in the inner lane of the pit lane except immediately around your entry to and exit from your pit box. This is eventually going to lead to injuries when two cars interlock wheels in the pit, an accident causes a wheel to become detached from a car in the pit, or similar. When it’s packed with largely unprotected bodies, the pit lane should not be a place for side by side racing.

  49. John Sinclair says:

    I have a driving licence. I speed or drive into other vehicles , I get points on my licence . Enought points I get a ban.
    If I behave for a while the points expire.

    F1 drivers have super licence. Ditto.

    Simple.

  50. Richard Graeme says:

    It’s hardly surprising the lesser experienced drivers- and yes, I’m including Hamilton in that group- are making stupid mistakes. Even Schumi is suffering through lack of testing-time.

    These days, the drivers don’t hardly get any opportunity to test. In a sport such as F1, that’s just crazy.

  51. Tim says:

    Driver AND car should be banned. This is a TEAM sport. And the attention of the owner/team principal/sponsors would certainly be piqued.

    Tim

  52. olderguysrule says:

    Should F1 have a yellow card system? I for one say yes. One where both Pastor and Romain would have gotten the red card this season b/4 Spa.

  53. Liam in Sydney says:

    James, do you believe that the Stewards would have had a quiet word to Frank Williams by now that would say something along the lines of “another major incident and you will be suspended severely”? Maybe Frank now needs to come down on Pastor like a ton of bricks?

    1. James Allen says:

      Or rather, ‘Calm him down a bit’

    2. Craig Baker says:

      Maybe Pastor is feeling inferior to his famous team mate and feels he needs to try harder.

  54. Stephan Roux says:

    Drivers should be exposed to single race bans especially if they are considered at fault for two serious incidents. This would not only serve as a deterrent for drivers who put the lives of their competitors and marshals at risk and for the role of third driver to mean something.

    it would also give the teams a chance to test new talent in race conditions whilst honouring season long contracts, I’m sure Pastor would change his ways quickly if Bottas had done a couple of races and proved far less error prone or temperamental behind the wheel.

    Also wouldn’t it be great if Mclaren could give Parfett a race or one of the Torro Rosso drivers got a weekend in a Red Bull or Perez had one race for Ferrari…

    A move like this could really provide some interesting chances for young and development drivers to showcase their talent and add some real spice to the championship (not that it’s needed this year)

    1. Stephan Roux says:

      James what do you think? There could be an interesting article in who could have replaced who in which races due to their various discretions …

  55. Smeghead says:

    Something needs to be done. This is F1, for feck’s sake – it’s the pinnacle of motorsport on this blue marble of ours, and the drivers should be held to a higher standard than anywhere else.

    Otherwise, you end up with the likes of the Indycar series, where it’s obvious several drivers have zero respect for those around them. Sure, some of the old hands in the series are very fair, but there are a bunch that just don’t give a crap.

    Look at the number of collisions in the Sonoma race a few weeks ago (at turn 7, if memory serves me), one of which punted Ryan Hunter-Reay (one of this year’s championship contenders) out of a solid point-scoring position. What a joke.

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