F1: Pierre Gasly could be banned for his Alpine Debut in 2023

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 11: Pierre Gasly of Scuderia AlphaTauri and France during practice/qualifying ahead of the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 11, 2022 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Peter Fox/Getty Images) // Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool // SI202211111333 // Usage for editorial use only //

Pierre Gasly’s big move to Alpine could be postponed because of the FIA and its outdated penalty points system.

You wouldn’t believe that AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly has done anything to warrant a race ban over the last 12 months. According to Sporting Regulations, “If a driver accrues 12 penalty points, his license will be suspended for the following Competition (Grand Prix), following which 12 points will be removed from the license.” There have been similar scares with Sebastian Vettel in 2019 and Lando Norris last year. However, Gasly is in a more troubling situation. He has accumulated 10 points in just five months.

This means he will have to wait until the Monaco Grand Prix next May for his account to be reset to zero. Therefore, if the AlphaTauri driver accrues two more penalty points between now and May, he will be banned for the subsequent grand Prix. If it happens in Abu Dhabi, he will be suspended for his first race with Alpine in March. If Pierre was to get suspended, it would be the most farcical suspension in Formula One history, discrediting the whole point of the penalty system in the first place. 

The F1 Penalty System is Outdated

The current system was introduced in 2014 when the calendar was only 19 races. With 22 races this season and 24 in 2023, the chances of picking up penalty points are much higher than it was eight years ago. In short, there are 25 more sessions in a season. 25 more opportunities to be penalized when the number for a race ban is still 12 points. Also, considering the communication between teams and the FIA is inconsistent, it makes it tricky for the teams and drivers. 

After the Mexico City Grand Prix, Gasly said,

“Last weekend [in Austin], half the grid was given too much space behind the Safety Car and I was penalized.” With regards to the weekend in Mexico, Pierre stated, “I don’t know why I wasn’t given a message to give the position back [to Stroll]. At the end of the day I try my best inside the car, the last thing I want is to [pick up] stupid penalty points and lose race time.”

Going into the Brazilian Grand Prix

It is a very difficult situation for the FIA as they don’t want to go against the sporting code. But for Gasly to be suspended would be unwarranted. When he spoke in the press conference before the Brazilian Grand Prix, Gasly said:

“I’m not going to lie, it’s a very unpleasant situation and quite delicate, in some ways also a bit embarrassing to be standing in a position where I could be banned for a race. After the season that I have done, I don’t feel like I have been particularly dangerous over the last 12 months. That would be a harsh penalty.”

This is just another thing on the list of issues from the FIA this season. The promises from the FIA at the beginning of the season have not been met after last year’s futile finale. There is a genuine question to be asked if FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem can resolve all these problems. Only time will tell.  

Gasly will need to be extra careful so that this weekend isn’t his last with AlphaTauri before he moves to Alpine for 2023. In the end, the FIA needs to fix the penalty system to avoid inevitable embarrassing situations in the future. 

Featured Image Credit: Peter Fox/Getty Images