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Vettel does not like plan for driver penalty points in Formula 1
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Sebastian Vettel
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 May 2013   |  10:46 am GMT  |  44 comments

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel says he does not like the plan to give drivers penalty points, which could see them being handed a one race ban.

Under the new proposed system, stewards would hand out penalty points – similar to road users getting points on their driving licence – in addition to existing punishments, such as drive-through penalties, for misdemeanours on track.

Stewards will be free to choose the number of points handed out, although they will be given an advisory level to work from. Should a driver accumulate 12 points over a 12-month period, they would received a one race ban. Points will be erased after 12 months.

When asked about his thoughts on the system, reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel said: “I don’t like it. I don’t know, maybe I’m a little bit too old fashioned, I don’t want to make this too long but I think we had a lot of penalties in the past.

“I think from a drivers’ point of view we’ve been pushing for penalties and right now we are probably in a situation where we have more penalties than we would like so it’s a little bit of a vicious circle.”

Full details of system have yet to be fully released, but Vettel said that from what he has seen of the plans, he is concerned that drivers will be penalised for things that are not always in their control.

“I think the catalogue is not released entirely,” he added. “I’ve seen some sketch of it but I think you have the potential of scoring points for some things that are not entirely in our hands and small things and at the end of the day the consequence could be very big.

“I don’t know if that’s the idea. Surely, if you want to adapt a system that everybody uses on the road, which is the idea, there might be some logic behind it, but at the end of the day we are not driving on the road, we are racing.”

Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo was equally cautious about the new system. “We’ve obviously got to discuss this and make sure that it is not a bad thing,” he said.

“I think everyone’s looking for clarity so between an incident people want to know ‘Alright, this guy crashed in to me, is he going to get a drive-through? Is he going to get a five-place grid penalty? Is he going to get anything?’

“So I think just having maybe a points system like this could clarify what exactly the cost of an incident is. But saying that if they start bringing things in like unsafe pit release and you get a deducted point that’s not really your fault that’s the team’s fault. They have to be careful with how they do it, so we’ll see.”

But Ferrari’s Felipe Massa added: “From what I saw, I don’t think it will be so different to what we saw until now. Drivers who are creating problems will suffer more than the others. What I did all my career was not be involved in this, so it is OK.”

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44 Comments
  1. Jacob says:

    I think it just comes down to ensuring the points are given for the right transgressions then. Keep them for on track incidents for instance, although that doesnt rule out pit lane collisions etc.

  2. Jock Ulah says:

    Penalty points – how ‘entertaining’.

    Why not deduct them directly from the drivers’ championship points?

    Actually – No thanks.

    1. DB4Tim says:

      A great idea…end people running over anyone because their skill is not good enough to be in F1

      1. Random 79 says:

        Great in theory…except that those drivers tend to not have any points to deduct in the first place…

      2. Me says:

        Not true… Massa usually has a couple…

    2. Kit says:

      They wouldn’t touch the DC points as it represents revenue for FIA ,if I remember correctly. Driver pays $$ according to the DC points earned.

  3. JPS says:

    I think Felipe has this nailed. If you don’t drive into people you don’t get penalised.
    Vettel can’t rely on the Redbull as he has in the last three years and he is going to have to race. Sure he can do the dirty on his team mate with no repercussions but we will see what happens with other drivers.

    James, sorry for going back to this but I’m from Australia so not on the same time zone.
    Watching the Spanish GP last night was like watching Usain bolt, Yohan Blake, Justin Gatlin and Mike Rodgers in a egg and spoon race. You wouldn’t want to see these great athletes having to hold back in the Olympics 100m sprint . You want to see them going as fast as they can. That’s what I want in F1. I don’t have the answers but they have to change something. Tyre domination as others have said and commentators is not good for the sport. What are your thoughts?

    1. Allan B says:

      Watching the Spanish GP last night was like watching Usain bolt, Yohan Blake, Justin Gatlin and Mike Rodgers in a egg and spoon race.

      Quote of the week…..lol

      What an amazing analogy……

    2. Matt says:

      Man that’s a sweet comment : D

      So true!

      On topic tho my opinion is penalty points is harsh let them do there job if they touch – no problem .

      What needs to stop is dangerous moves but a move that doesn’t pay off and slight contact is acceptable so long as its not intentional. No one understands how difficult to judge going at that speed. Any doubters try karting and see how hard that is to react and judge at a fraction of the speed. My resolution would be to leave as is but try to react quicker to situations than after the race. Drive through a good penalty to deter

  4. pcoops says:

    Any new additions to F1 are pointless whist we have these ridiculous tyres. Every second comment by anyone to do with Formula 1 at the moment is tyre related. Hembery is a superb PR man and how he has deflected the issues so well is astounding, but come on… “its what we were asked to do” is not true anymore, they were not asked to force the drivers to back off by several seconds a lap or be unable to finish the race.. If it isnt possible to make tyres that force more pitstops but remain durable during the designed life cycle then say so, but its a total farce… Stop it now please..

    1. Me says:

      It’s what they were asked to do.

    2. Quade says:

      The “thats what we were asked to” defence is quite silly and unconvincing. How many times have we watched the Pirelli boss glow with gnome-like glee about how tough the races are going to be?
      He regularly mentions individual teams and talks about strategy. These things are beyond our expectations of a neutral tyre manufacturer.

  5. pcoops says:

    It perhaps also needs to be said that : Now we have no refuelling and pitstops take 2.6 seconds, they hardly spice up the action anyway.. With DRS and huge grip differentials with used and new tyres, overtaking is hardly that exciting either anymore, quality over quantity would be better.. The reason its only red bull complaining is that all the other teams are happy with anything that gives them an opportunity to beat Vettel. And this is coming from someone who does not want vettel to win.. Of course the top teams will still be the ones fighting for the championship, they have more resources, but for the most part it is how the car’s characteristics in conjunction with the track surface and layout suit the tyres on the day of the race that decide which of the top teams win..

    1. Me says:

      “Now we have no refuelling”

      Thank god… (or whoever you choose to pray to… or not)

      1. pcoops says:

        the point is that pit stops are not as influential or even as strategic as they were during the refuelling era, they are now little more than a drive through penalty barring any problems. So why bother with all the “tyre issues” to force more of these…

      2. Craig D says:

        Tell that to McLaren last year!

  6. Ian Spencer says:

    I think the drive through penalty comment is a good example thinking of the Spanish GP. Hulkenberg was unsafely released but then totally failed to react to the situation by backing off. It is an example of where discretion is appropriate and the driver needed to attract a punishment – but with the self-inflicted damage requiring a pit stop, a second stop really is a disqualification.

    The candidate from last year was Grosjean where perhaps a points system would have allowed him to justify himself moving to a conservative method of driving at the start rather than the sudden axe falling on him (though that crash that earned him a ban was worthy of the ban in its own right anyhow).

    Massa always claims that his driving is not a problem, but he had a tendency to cut drivers off unreasonably – getting an accumulation of points incident after incident might have brought that home (instead they changed the rule book to deal with the issue).

    Points have another benefit – punishing a transgression without destroying a race. For example, Perez definitely suffers from excessive steering play judging by the way he struggles to hold a line when someone is behind him – but if it all works out, then it would be better that he gets points than gets dropped back in the race. The stewards have options – a momentary moment of indiscipline that has minor impact on another driver can get points, and if it is a one off, no big deal, a major error that causes a big problem can be dealt with within the race, and if the view is that it was a one off then no need for points. The danger is that someone gets doubly punished – a stop and go, especially a 10 second one, is effectively a race ban in terms of impact on the race. A gathering of small points allows stewards to be consistent, punishing the transgression based on that race alone, rather than then perhaps bringing in their personal judgements of previous track records.

    1. mhilgtx says:

      Sounds like they will still have the drive through’s and what not’s.

  7. I agree with what Daniel Ricciardo says, in terms that there could be instances where something is not a drivers fault but he is still penalised for it.

    In the current system of penalties, the five place grid penalties for changing a gearbox where a driver is not at fault seems unfair to me. They need to figure out how to penalise the team and not the driver.

    The FIA could deduct constructors points for the particular team along with a financial penalty. Something like that would make more sense and would be a fairer way of dealing with it.

  8. DB says:

    I assume the points are in addition to lost grid position and drive troughs, right?

  9. Allan B says:

    “Should a driver accumulate 12 points over a 12-month period, they would received a one race ban. Points will be erased after 12 months”

    Are they planning on carrying it over between different years?

    That is how it sounds from this statement, if so, how will this effect Drivers moving between Teams, will they carry with them the points they accrued with the previous Team?

    If not, then at the later stages of each year it could be like a dodge-em car race or two, with drivers knowing the points are erased and taking out potential champions. Yes that is extreme but just putting it out there. It could be as simple as blocking in Qualifying.

    1. Random 79 says:

      Certain drivers have been known to do that in the past. Points or no points, some drivers will want to win at any cost.

  10. Elie says:

    The only problem you have when you start investing in a new procedure is that you start looking for reasons to use when normally you may not. That said its a good idea as long as the list is detailed and well weighted and you don’t start penalising for team errors, unauthorised radio telecasts etc,

    Good drivers don’t have anything to worry about. Really I don’t know why Seb is worried. Seems like anything or anyone at Red Bull don’t like rules that don’t favour them.

  11. Sven says:

    I agree with Vettel and Dan. It’s too much and not really fair. I fear it would come to the point that drivers would be afraid to overtake or defend hard–even more so than now. This is farce.

    I think crushing into someone does deserve penalty points, but leave anything else alone! I can’t believe that’s happening to F1.

  12. Matt W says:

    What will they be used for? Presumably if you cause an “avoidable accident” you should now get points rather than a grid penalty for the next race?

    I’m in favour of that as it lessens the impact that failed overtakes have on the offending driver where it’s an accident but will penalise a consistent record of similar incidents.

    That said, F1 has been completely inept at enforcing the current rules consistently so I think this just opens another can of worms.

  13. Michael says:

    What we need are stewards making decisions during the race rather than pushing everything back.

    While I don’t see anything inherently wrong with this new system, surely drivers who infringe that often shouldn’t be in Formula 1 at all.

  14. Ole says:

    I don’t like the idea of accumulating penalty points. If a driver does something wrong he should pay for it in the same race, not in the next race or later in the season. The race stewards should be capable of dealing with accidents as they happen throughout the race, it’s already too much about handing out penalties after the race. With penalty points we can have silly circumstances where a driver is involved in an accident but still manages to get championship points in the race, and then he is handed penalty points after the race. Wouldn’t a drive through penalty have been more fair?

  15. Quade says:

    There is no need to add more rules to what is becoming something of a farce already.

    What is really needed is for several meddling rules to be dropped and a super rule that dictates when new rules can be created.
    There should also be another rule that forces the FIA not to apply the existing rules arbitrarily.

    We can’t have all sorts of nonsense piling in at either the FIA’s or Bernie’s whim.

    1. Me says:

      “We can’t have all sorts of nonsense piling in at either the FIA’s or Bernie’s whim.”

      To a certain degree this makes sense, but you do realise that the FIA regulate Formula One.

      1. James Allen says:

        Please can you register with a real email address.

        We cannot accept contributions like this

  16. Mon Pen says:

    Er, where does this “Plan” come from? Is it just Bernie playing yet another silly game again?

    1. Anne says:

      Well in many countries it is used with regular street drivers. They idea in F1 is to avoid fines and grid penalties. So if a driver is penalized for blocking or whatever. That driver is given an amount of points. When that driver reaches a certain points limit he gets banned for one race. You have to thank Grosjean and Maldonado for what they did last season.

  17. Andrew Carter says:

    Given that Red Bull and Torro Rosso voted against it this comes across more as toeing the party line than anything else. The System has worked well enough in the BTCC and is a good way to deal with repeat offenders (probably why Lotus and Williams voted against it as well).

  18. mhilgtx says:

    This is a great idea, if you have an unbiased ruling body. But alas F1 has the FIA which run by an ex Ferrari guy. How did that happen, how as a guy ever allowed to be in charge of the FIA that was an ex upper management of any team?

    I say let them figure out how to penalize fairly and consistently first.

    On Massa, I wonder how he would feel about it now if he had say 7 points from this years transgressions already on his “license”?

  19. Jo Torrent says:

    I feel for Pastor & Romain, they might finish a season with a negative points tally

  20. Val from montreal says:

    If the points system would have been implemented in the 90′s , Damin Hill would been banned numerous times ..

    ie ; Weaving like a maniac in front of Schumacher at Montreal, Canada 1997

    Coulthard in Spa-Francorchamps for slowing down in a straight line in front MSC with all that rain in 1998 …

    What a joke : ((

  21. Carlos Marques says:

    Why not stick with soccer rules? Accumulate two yellow cards (in separate races) and you get a red card, i.e. you’re down 10 grid places in the next race.

    Accumulate two yellow cards in the same race and you get a red card, i.e. you get a drive-through.

    Accumulate two red cards and you get a one-race ban.

    And like soccer I’m sure we can come-up with a list of things that can cause a driver to get a yellow card in a race.

    1. Angelina says:

      Well though out penalty system but I will avoid banning an F1 driver from a race, no matter what the consequences as F1 is an individual sport with driver’s championship which includes all races. Drivers can no longer drop races like in 90′s & wdc is not a team sport like football. Its like banning a team from playing a match.

    2. Random 79 says:

      Nice, and if a driver is passed a little too closely by another driver he can jump out of his car and roll around on the ground holding his knee ;)

      But in all seriousness, not a bad idea :)

  22. Andrew Woodruff says:

    The problem, as with all the other reg changes in F1 over the last 5-6 years (tyres, DRS, quali format, testing ban, and I’m sure there are others) are the unintended and unforeseen consequences. For example, who predicted that the current combination of rules would lead to many races where drivers don’t bother post a time in Q3? Utterly ridiculous.

    I can see a situaton where the penalty points system will lead to the F1 ‘professional foul’. One driver with only a few points near the end of the season deliberately incurs a points penalty by weaving/chopping in the braking zone etc. because he knows he can afford to do it without consequence. The stewards won’t be able to give a different punishment because a precedent will have been set earlier in the season.

    There are also a multitude of problems when it comes to consistent application and matching the crime to the punishment. F1 has always had a problem with this, and it really shouldn’t be so hard. The only conclusion is the varying degrees of political influence behind the scenes, and the need to keep the championship alive as long as possible.

  23. alexbookoo says:

    So say you’re German and you’ve paid hundreds of euros for a grandstand seat to see Vettel at the German Grand Prix, but at the previous race he gets 1 penalty point for something silly and that tips him over the limit so he can’t race. The crowd would be furious (the rest of us might be quite happy but that’s beside the point). It’s a rubbish idea.

    1. Angelina says:

      yup. true.

  24. Janis says:

    Ohh,
    the next step will then be to bring in lawyers – to decide whether the wording of the rule matches the actual driver actions…
    IMHO, there are too many penalties and silly (one move, etc.) regulations already.

    One should realize that it is impossible to sanitize racing prohibiting all potentially dangerous action.
    As a result you must then try to “spice it up” again with silly tyre specs and DRS.
    We just saw where this leads.

    The move away from the intelligent TV viewer to short attention span channel switcher is obvious. Been reflected in the sponsor choice, too. Just look at McLaren: consumer goods instead of hi-tech high value stuff.

    1. Angelina says:

      +1
      Very good comment

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