Finally a Formula 1 ban in 2024? Hamilton & Co. were that close

In 2024, the penalty point system will celebrate its tenth anniversary. That could be the case with the first self-imposed racing suspension in Formula 1. Because Kevin Magnussen became the fifth driver in the history of the system to reach double figures, or more precisely 10 points. This means he only needs 2 more for the automatic lock. A good reason to look back: How close were the four predecessors (including Lewis Hamilton) to the ban?

How the penalty point system works – and why 10 points are dangerous

As a reminder: the system is very simple. For certain offenses, one or more points may be awarded in addition to regular penalties. These remain stored in an account for 12 months, then expire. Anyone who reaches 12 points on this account will automatically be banned from the next race weekend.

F1 race ban for Magnussen? Danner: That would be inappropriate! (11:07 mins)

10 points are basically a milestone on the way to the ban. Because for most collisions there are already 2 points, as well as for many scenarios such as disregarding yellow flags. Such offenses are anything but rare. And in fact, no one had as long a path to initial decline as Magnussen.

Daniil Kvyat avoids racing ban by one month in 2017

The fall of Daniil Kvyat and the effective end of his Formula 1 career as a result of 2016 and 2017 had it all. Today we mainly remember the starting accidents with Sebastian Vettel and the demotion to clear the way for Max Verstappen. But Kvyat’s fall from grace went far beyond that. In 22 races between Singapore 2016 and Hungary 2017 he collected 10 penalty points (and at the same time only 6 “real” points).

And Kvyat’s points account was mostly filled with driving offenses. Two collisions, once taking a shortcut while overtaking, once driving dangerously back onto the track. The two points for Canada were rather unusual: There he stopped on the formation lap, then hurried after the field and took up his original starting position again. Just too late. This earned him two penalty points and a 10-second stop-and-go, which the race management incorrectly called a drive-through penalty and only corrected after he had dismounted. There was no goodwill: Kvyat also had to sit through the stop-and-go afterwards.

In Austria in 2017, Kvyat shot down Verstappen and Alonso, photo: Sutton
In Austria in 2017, Kvyat shot down Verstappen and Alonso, photo: Sutton

Fortunately, two points had expired on May 29th. A month later and it would have been over: he stood in the way of Lance Stroll in qualifying in Hungary and scored another point, bringing him to 10. Then reason set in. For the rest of 2017 he received only one engine penalty. By the way: During his two-year comeback in 2019 and 2020, he also collected a total of 9 penalty points.

Run incident Points Penalty
USA 2016 Collision with PER 2 10 seconds
Mexico 2016 Position gained off track 1 5 seconds
Canada 2017 Incorrectly overtaken according to SC1 line 2 10 seconds stop-and-go
Austria 2017 Collision with ALO/VER 2 Drive-through penalty
Great Britain 2017 Dangerously back on track 2 Drive-through penalty
Hungary 2017 STR hinders 1 3 starting places

Penalty point inspiration Romain Grosjean fails due to suspension

Romain Grosjean is a special case. His 2012 season, which was riddled with incidents, reached a dramatic climax in Spa when he completely misjudged the start and triggered a mass crash that claimed the lives of two World Cup contenders, among others. Grosjean was banned for this – but not under the points system. This was only introduced in 2014. Grosjean’s 2012 season is considered a direct inspiration for the concept.

Grosjean never got rid of the image of the chaos pilot after that, and once he came dangerously close to being banned. It started with shortcuts and a collision in 2017, and Grosjean’s file from 2018 actually looks like a prime example of the existence of penalty points. Two starting accidents, one disregard for blue flags. Finally, a crash with Charles Leclerc, which raised him to 10 points.

Grosjean caused a start crash in Spain in 2018, Photo: LAT Images
Grosjean caused a start crash in Spain in 2018, Photo: LAT Images

The stewards were lenient on the latter. Just one point for an accident? The collision occurred despite caution, the verdict said. So Grosjean still had at least a two-point buffer, and he only really had to worry about one race. Then the first point from the previous year expired. In 2019 he knew how to behave and only received a point twice.

Run incident Points Penalty
Mexico 2017 Abbreviated 1 5 seconds
Brazil 2017 Collision with OCO 2 10 seconds
Spain 2018 Starting accident 2 3 starting places
France 2018 Starting accident 2 5 seconds
Singapore 2018 Blue flags 2 5 seconds
USA 2018 Collision with LEC 1 3 starting places

Trial victim Lewis Hamilton? In danger for just four hours

Lewis Hamilton delivered the opposite of Grosjean’s 17/18 series in 2020. Actually a clean driver, he turned around Alex Albon twice within a few races in 2019 and 2020 and thus collected four points. So far, so good, happened. Furthermore, things became more difficult. He received 2 points for a yellow card violation in Austria in 2020, only after Red Bull provided new evidence.

Then there was Monza, where he overlooked the no-entry signal on the pit lane during the race. There were 2 points for this. And finally Sochi: Hamilton made a test start at the pit exit twice – which was not allowed on this track. One point twice, that brought him to 10.

Frustrated, Mercedes went to the stewards and got the penalty points withdrawn that evening. Reason: Hamilton had completed the test starts on team instructions. Instead of points, the team was ultimately given a 25,000 euro penalty. The risk of a ban only existed (if at all) for one Grand Prix, more precisely for 5 hours and 36 minutes.

Run incident Points Penalty
Brazil 2019 Collision with ALB 2 5 seconds
Austria 2020 too fast under yellow 2 3 starting places
Austria 2020 Collision with ALB 2 5 seconds
Italy 2020 Driven into a closed box 2 10 seconds stop-go
Russia 2020 irregular test start (1 / 0) 5 seconds
Russia 2020 irregular test start (1 / 0) 5 seconds

Pierre Gasly saved by the team from suspension?

Pierre Gasly was probably only one cross-creep from the team boss away from being banned in 2023. This was due to a 2022 season in which he (similar to Hamilton before him) did not necessarily get into trouble just because of unclean driving. Of course there were two collisions, and once he drove too fast under red lights – but two other topics were worth discussing.

One point for too many track limit violations in Austria. Just a few races later, the practice of awarding points for track limits was ended. Too late for Gasly. And then the USA GP, where he got two points for being too far away from the safety car. All of this made for an uncomfortable start to the 2023 season – which then seemed to turn into a disaster in Australia. When Gasly hit the grass during the late restart, returned unsteadily to the track and shot his teammate Esteban Ocon.

The Alpine disaster in Australia could have been even worse, Photo: LAT Images
The Alpine disaster in Australia could have been even worse, Photo: LAT Images

Both drivers had to go to the stewards – and both described the accident as a racing accident. A more than happy outcome for Gasly. An opponent outside of your own team would hardly have reacted so accommodatingly. There wasn’t even a penalty. Two blockades by competitors in Spain also resulted in no points and only cost starting places. Since then, Gasly has not committed a single penalty point-related offense.

Run incident Points Penalty
Spain 2022 Collision with STR 2 5 seconds
Austria 2022 Collision with VET 2 5 seconds
Austria 2022 Track Limits 1 5 seconds
Japan 2022 too quickly under red 2 Drive-through penalty
USA 2022 over 10 car lengths under safety car 2 5 seconds
Mexico Leave the route, gain an advantage 1 5 seconds

Kevin Magnussen gets banned from racing with speedrun?

Things are really getting tricky for Kevin Magnussen now. Because he collected his 10 points at a record pace within five weekends. He will have to wait until 2025 for the first one to expire. Three accidents, one of which was awarded 3 points due to aggravating circumstances, and then Miami, where he also received aggravating circumstances and 3 points for intentionally taking short cuts to defend his position. Good for Magnussen: Although he is decried as a hooligan, he has only scored three points since his comeback in 2022. In 2023 he remained without points.

Run incident Points Penalty
Saudi Arabia 2024 Collision with ALB 3 10 seconds
China 2024 Collision with TSU 2 10 seconds
Miami 2024 Leave the route, gain an advantage 3 10 seconds
Miami 2024 Collision with SAR 2 10 seconds

Penalty points result in four suspensions in Formula 2

Formula 1 may have made it so far without bans, but Formula 2, with its – to put it politely – much broader talent pool, has already had four bans. Mahaveer Raghunathan, who was hopelessly defeated in 2019, will not be forgotten. He didn’t even make it to the summer break back then. In Bahrain he ignored the checkered flag, in Baku he ignored a request to weigh in during training, overtook too early at the start of the race before finally taking part three violations of the Virtual Safety Car in France earned the last points necessary for the suspension.

By the way, after he sat out the Austria weekend, Raghunathan continued cheerfully. In training in Abu Dhabi he completed his second ban – which he was never able to take because the season was over after that. He made an F2 rule change: If a driver reaches 12 in training or qualifying, he will be immediately banned for both races of the current weekend.

Amaury Cordeel followed in Raghunathan’s footsteps in 2022. 40 km/h too fast in the pit lane, six track limit violations in one race, a formation lap in the wrong place and, as a special lowlight, 4 points for driving too fast under a red flag. He sealed his ban with a collision in Baku.

Coincidentally, Cordeel’s accident victim, Olli Caldwell, was to receive his fourth penalty point suspension a few races later. At the start of the season, Caldwell drew attention with 7 points for track limit and grid violations, and in the following weeks he added more track limits, dangerous driving in the pit lane and hindering a competitor.

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