Reading over the AUTOSPORT story about driver penalties in the form of a points system on their license had me wondering if this is a good idea. Apparently the drivers think it is and certain power brokers in Formula One do as well but it would be interesting to hear an opposing viewpoint. Jonathan Noble is, by uneducated guess, an ace guy but the article is written with the assumption that fans know about penalty systems currently in place and how this new points system would change that. It’s very bare on back story and the usual journalistic approach to informing the reader of the who, what, where, when and how. I’m sure I’m just running slow this morning and the error is my ability to digest news, not Mr. Noble’s ability to write it… he’s a good guy.

For those reasons, it is difficult to understand how a points system that accrues infractions in the shape of a points will work as juxtaposed to the current system of fines. I understand that fines are simply that… fines for cash. They have no punitive implication such as a ban or some other penalty no matter how many times you are fined.

The article says that this is tied to the speeding violations as well as drivers are keen to get rid of that penalty but have held off on making it an issue until the FIA could have a serious discussion over a points system which is now set for the weekend of the Spanish Grand Prix. According to technical boss Charlie Whiting:

“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.”

They are testing a system in concert with the actual season so they can assure that the system is properly managed and equitable. That’s good news as accruing a few points over speeding violations which would then amount to a race ban would be really harsh.

According tot he story, the FIA will review their system at the meeting in Spain to assure all parties that the system won’t tally up silly infractions that one day result in a massive punishment such as a race ban.

What the article also notes is that AUTOSPORT did report back in March that the Super License fee was drastically increased but that the driver swallowed that pill by being reassured they would not be fined for pit lane speeding infractions. I assume the amount of revenue generated through speeding penalties was well below the total increase in Super License fees or otherwise the FIA wouldn’t agree to it.

What do you think? Can a points system work and in particular would it be something that could be exploited or seriously detrimental to F1 or a particular driver?


An F1 fan since 1972, NC has spent over 25 years in the technology industry focusing on technology integration, AV systems integration, digital media strategies, technology planning, consulting, speaking, presenting, sales, content strategy, marketing and brand building.
  • Brian

    I am a little surprised something like that isn’t already in place. Given the money thrown around in F1, it seems any fine system would have limited punitive effects.

    I think the main point I disagree with in the article is that you don’t want bans for things like speeding, because if you don’t want bans for speeding, why do you have rules against speeding in the first place?

    Sure, actually causing an accident would warrant points, but as was discussed surrounding the Grosjean incidents last year, the punishment and in this case points would need to be assigned to the initial behavior, not the outcome. Therefore the points assigned for speeding would be related to how dangerous that behavior is and the points assigned for somethin like weaving under braking could be assigned relative to how dangerous that behavior is. If a driver really is constantly speeding through the pitlane and thus increasing the risk to those in the pitlane, I dont see why it wouldnt make sense to result in a ban.

  • Mike Hunt

    Only if you take off points for each subsequent race the driver didn’t get punished. You can’t just punish someone and ignore the fact that they have learned their lesson.

    • I believe points tallies get wiped at the end of each year, when Super Licences are renewed. Thanks to the Good Practise rules, there is provision for barring those who emphatically do not learn their lesson. End-of-season wiping should be OK because sometimes it takes a while for a lesson to fully absorb.

  • Rapierman

    First order of business is to ask yourself if there is anyone for whom there is no deterrent. If there is, get rid of that person. He’s a danger to the human race.

    Then you’ll have to ask yourself if a points system will serve as enough of a deterrent to create the atmosphere of compliance. If you can, then you’re in business. if not, then all the points in the world won’t solve your issue.

    • TooGood2tell

      First order of business is to ask yourself if there is anyone for whom there is no deterrent. If there is, get rid of that person. He’s a danger to the human race.
      >> In that case, how will we have F1 without Bernie and races without his chums Herbie Blash and Charlie Whiting?

  • TooGood2tell

    The very fact, that there is no consistency and lack of transparency in the way penalties are handed out. Penalties are decided based on the outcome and not the action(and the intention) any system will be useless.

    Add to it the fact that these days F1 is primarily about entertaining fans and spicing up the show, the penalties do have element of drama and handed out based on the players and not their actions.

    So while Romain Grosjean gets a penalty for Spa’12, similar incidents triggered by other drivers are treated as merely routine racing incidents. While an Adrian Sutil is penalized for joining the race track in dangerous manner (Singapore ’10 or 11), a Lewis Hamilton was let go scot–free (Fuji’07).

    Nothing is going to change

    • Andreas

      The penalties – regardless of in which form they come – does absolutely need to be more consistent. But to me, that’s a separate issue. Having the penalties on the license would mean they carry over to other forms of motorsports. If you’re constantly speeding in the pit lane and get banned for a race, you shouldn’t be able to race in any other (FIA-organized) series until you’ve done your time. That makes sense to me.

      • Toogood2tell

        If you’re constantly speeding in the pit lane and get banned for a race, you shouldn’t be able to race in any other (FIA-organized) series until you’ve done your time.
        >> Pit lane speed is controlled by software setting on the steering wheel, every driver hits the pit lane speed limiter the moment they enter the designated line on Pit Lane entry and same goes for when they exit the pit lane. So if there is a software glitch resulting in pit lane speed violation, shouldn’t the team be penalized rather than the driver? Just like unsafe release penalty.
        Again given the fact that lots of the functionalities are controlled by McLaren’s common ECU, why not give McLaren standing fine every season :)

        • Andreas

          That’s true, but the driver is usually held responsible regardless of what happened was due to driver error or mechanical failure. When Hamilton’s tyre delaminated and damaged his gearbox, he was handed a grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, even though it could be argued it wasn’t his fault. So it could be argued both ways, although your point is definitely valid.

          The way I see a points system would be quite similar to how regular driving licenses work in some countries. Various infractions (preferably of the “you either did it or you didnt” kind, such as pit lane speeding, ignoring flags etc) carry different points penalties, and the points only “live” a certain amount of time. When that time is up, they are removed and you’re left with any points you’ve amassed since. If you at any time accumulate more than x number of points, your racing license is temporarily revoked.

          Would that mean you can get a race ban for pit lane speeding, ignoring flags etc? No, but for doing it repeatedly within a short timeframe, which might not be a bad signal to send.

          But knowing F1, they’ll probably muck it up and make a simple thing ridiculously complicated, so it will probably never happen. But it gives us something other than tires to talk about (which I nearly succeeded with, but not completely). :-)