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Formula One begins ‘football-style’ crackdown on reckless drivers

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Reckless Formula One drivers have been warned that the introduction of a ‘football-style’ penalty points system may lead to them facing race bans in future.

Discussions into the viability of a revised punishment system for dangerous or other irregular driving are expected to take place at next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix and could be introduced later this year.

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International Motoring Federation (FIA) race director Charlie Whiting is due to meet the teams at a meeting of the Sporting Working Group think-tank ahead of the Barcelona race to discuss potential future rule changes.

“It’s a complex question and we need to get the balance right because banning a driver is a serious issue,” he said. “We need to make sure a driver genuinely deserves any ban.

“We will be monitoring offences and running a (hypothetical) system in the background to see how it would all work if put into practice. We need to do that for a while.”

Although there has been some support for the new idea from a number of teams, there has not yet been the necessary unanimous approval required. If this changes, a new rule could be drafted in this season.

Teams and drivers are anxious that a series of relatively minor infringements by a driver could lead to a ban.

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Whiting said that the FIA were mindful of this problem and that a ban could be out of context with a driver’s general conduct and that is why he and his assistants were analysing and trialling the possible systems.

The drivers, in general, are understood to be keen for the system to be brought in to replace the existing unpredictable way of handling misdemeanours and using fines and grid penalties.

Last season, several serial offenders on the track emerged after a spate of first-lap accidents and later collisions and other incidents.

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These included Venezuelan Pastor Maldonado of Williams, who was involved in several crashes, and Frenchman Romain Grosjean of Lotus, who was in seven opening-lap crashes in 12 races.

The Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) had sought clarification from the FIA about why drivers were still being fined for speeding this year when a deal agreed for an increase in super-licence fees was supposed to have stopped financial penalties.

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Following discussions with the FIA, the GPDA has been happy to hold fire on the fines issue until the penalty points issue is resolved.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]


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