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Alpine’s push to wipe Gasly F1 penalty points blocked by rivals’ opportunism

Alpine has revealed that an attempt to get some of Pierre Gasly’s licence penalty points wiped was derailed by opportunism from its Formula 1 rivals.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine

Pierre Gasly, Alpine

Alpine

Gasly has been at the centre of a focus on F1’s driver penalty points system after he totted up 10 points – just two shy of the limit before a race ban kicks in – last year.

With some of his points coming from minor offences like track limits, his situation prompted discussion over the winter about whether the system needed a rethink to ensure innocent drivers did not fall foul of a rule originally intended to eradicate dangerous driving.

In response, and as revealed by Autosport, the FIA has agreed to change the way in which penalty points are distributed from the start of the 2023 season.

From now on, rather than offences like breaching track limits being included, points will only be given out for specific cases of dangerous driving.

While that is good news for drivers with a lot of points, as it minimises the risk of innocent mistakes pushing them over the limit for a race ban, there remains some unease about the situation.

That much was clear when Gasly, who was outspoken about the matter last year, did not seem impressed with the latest state of affairs.

Asked by Autosport in Saudi Arabia if he welcomed the new way that points were given out, he said: “I won't even answer that question. You get it [my response] the way that you want. But I won't make a comment.”

It is understood that Gasly’s stance is because he and his team feel that the change of approach to what offences earn points should be applied to those who have already fallen foul of them on their licences.

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Pierre Gasly, Alpine A523

Photo by: Alpine

Alpine team boss Otmar Szafnauer is clear that, if the FIA has accepted that handing out penalty points for track limits is wrong, then those drivers who have been punished for them should have those points removed.

“There's two elements to the rule,” Szafnauer told Autosport. “One, going forward, what should you get penalty points for? And I think it's right that you should get penalty points for not things like track limits, but dangerous driving, which was always the intent.

“I don't know how things like track limits or being too far away from the safety car ever got in there, because it's not dangerous driving. Anyway, that's one thing, and I agree with the FIA's [new] interpretation.

“Now, should that be retroactive? I'm always going to say yes, mainly because I think that's fair.

“If we all stand up, raise our hands and say we made a mistake: then correct the mistake looking backwards not just looking forwards.”

It has emerged that Szafnauer brought the matter up in the most recent meeting of the F1 Commission and proposed the idea of drivers having points earned for minor offences wiped off their licences.

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While some of Alpine’s competitors thought it was a good idea, the matter did not get the majority support needed to be implemented.

Speaking about his proposal, Szafnauer said: “I was in the minority.

“There were probably three or four out of the 10 teams that supported it.

“Some of those that did not admitted the reason they are not supporting it was for opportunistic reasons, hoping that something happens to us.”

Szafnauer admitted that there was little hope of being able to convince rival teams to change their mind over the matter.

Gasly’s 10 licence points have come from a mixture of driving incidents and sporting rule breaches.

The six points he has for his collisions last year with Lance Stroll in Spain and with Sebastian Vettel in Austria, plus not slowing for the red flag in the Japanese Grand Prix, would all have earned the same sanction under the new FIA approach.

However, the two points he earned for leaving too big a gap behind the safety car in Austin, and then the point each for a track limits breach in Austria and running off track and gaining an advantage in Mexico as he battled Stroll, would likely not have been given out.

With points staying on a licence for 12 months, Gasly won’t shake any off until 22 May, which is the Monday after the Emilia Romagna Grand Prix at Imola.

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