F1 drivers are of the view that the penalty points on their superlicense should be for more dangerous incidents than the one Lewis Hamilton got in Russian GP.
Considering that Mercedes’ Hamilton was only two points away from a race ban, the topic of penalty points on superlience was brought up for discussions, as a lot of the F1 drivers agreed with the British driver that it should be kept for more dangerous clashes.
While they understood the reasoning behind it but Hamilton argued that he did not hurt anyone but himself in that kind of situation, and so, even if they were penalising him, they should add points on his superlicense which is better for irresponsible driving.
Having had less points for most of his F1 career, Hamilton has had a rough time in 2019 and 2020, which brought him close to a race ban. The two points he got was scrubbed off but he still has eight, with the next cancellation to come only in November.
In the three rounds to come, he has to be careful to not make a bigger mistake. It is unclear if F1 drivers will take this up in drivers’ briefing but it is likely that will after it was discussed widely post the Russian GP, whether in press conference and or speaking to media like Motorsport Network, Racefans.net, BBC, AMuS and more.
Here’s what the some of F1 drivers said:
Lewis Hamilton: “It’s ridiculous the points that have been given people this year in general. Penalty points usually are for – I don’t want to speak on my behalf – from a drivers’ point of view, if you put someone else in danger, you crash into somebody, of course, you should be getting penalty points. I did not harm anybody, did not put anybody in harm’s way so ultimately it’s a ridiculous rule – but it is what it is. I’ll just make sure I’m squeaky-clean moving forwards. Don’t give them an excuse for anything.”
Valtteri Bottas: “It’s a tricky one. Even maybe I should know the rule book word by word but I don’t. Obviously we always get guidance from the team what we’re allowed to do and what not. There are so many different circumstances and I don’t really know what to say. I think it’s tricky. For sure they are trying their best no doubt but yeah, I can’t say more.”
Max Verstappen: “It is a bit harsh. If you causes a crash it’s difference – but the penalty Lewis got was already painful enough. I mean, it was not correct where he stopped but if they had given penalty points for that, I’m not sure that’s correct. I’ve been up there myself, I think with ten points or something so I said to myself I will just try to stay away from the stewards at the track. Seeing them in the hotel or the bar, that’s not too bad, but stay out of their room during the race weekend. It’s difficult.
“Like I said before, if it’s like a crash or whatever, you caused, I can understand they want to hand penalty points to maybe calm you down or whatever but with things like this, Lewis didn’t do anything on purpose to create an issue or whatever. But I guess we’ll talk about it in the next briefing we have and see if something will happen or not. It’s always good, I guess, to talk about it and communicate. At least we know what we’re up to fully and then we move on.”
Sebastian Vettel: “I agree [with Hamilton]. Simple as that. I think if you really do some crazy moves on the track and some dangerous driving, then they’re justified, but if you’re speeding in the pit lane or minor infringements, it’s probably not the situation where to apply penalty points.”
Charles Leclerc: “I have to agree a little bit with Seb on some things. I didn’t know about the 10 previous points he had which his only two points away from a race ban. So surely, we need to find a way to penalise the drivers in a way they feel it. It’s a bit weird to see Lewis only two (four) points off a F1 race ban. I don’t think he has done anything particularly wrong this year, so maybe there’s a better way to do it. I don’t know, it’s not my job either. FIA will look into it.”
Daniel Ricciardo: “I haven’t seen what he did. I did hear he completed two practice starts? I haven’t seen it. From what I understand, obviously Lewis broke a rule. I don’t think he’s put anyone in danger. From what I would presume or assume. I think a penalty, it’s like playing European football: you get a yellow card for a dangerous tackle. You get a red card for, let’s say, very dangerous tackle. Correct me if I’m wrong on the rules.
“But if you are to miss a race for a few of these minor infringements, it’s a little extreme to give the penalty points. I haven’t heard what was said in the press conference, but I understand the tone of Lewis voice. I would defend that. Especially because Lewis has already served a penalty in the race for that same reason. I don’t think it requires n additional penalty. Which potentially means him missing a race. Would this spice up the F1 championship? May be or for sure! But I would side with the other drivers on that one.”
Apart from the F1 drivers, the likes of McLaren’s Andreas Seidl, Ferrari’s Mattia Binotto and FIA’s Michael Masi also spoke on the topic with different views, where the Italian offered a differing view from the others who did not add much.
“You may feel them quite harsh, especially if you are the victim of it,” he said. “But on the other side, if you are not harsh sometimes, then you leave the door open to drivers to repeat it in the future. I think it’s never easy to judge, I think the FIA in that respect is doing a great job.”
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