Max Verstappen is one of the closest Formula One stars to a race ban after accumulating seven penalty points. His position means the Red Bull driver is unable to take too many risks during the French Grand Prix to avoid receiving more and hence gaining a race ban.
The penalty system was brought in 2014 in order to dissuade drivers from interfering with others’ ability to race. Points are given out when a driver breaks the rules and could lead to a race ban if 12 are collected in the space of a year. Points remain on a driver’s record for 12 months before they expire.
No driver has ever received a race ban for penalty points in Formula One however it has been met by some in the junior Formula 2 category. Amaury Cordeel was the latest driver to be inflicted with it being forced to sit out the British Grand Prix this year.
Verstappen has been left in a tricky spot by points he collected towards the end of last season during the latter stages of his fierce title battle against Lewis Hamilton.
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He picked up two for taking out the seven-time world champion during the Italian Grand Prix before picking up a further two points for ignoring double waved yellows in Qatar. He then picked up three points for two incidents with the Mercedes driver during the ill-tempered Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. He hence sits on seven points, the same amount that has been accrued by Pierre Gasly and Lance Stroll.
Fernando Alonso, Yuki Tsunoda and Alex Albon are the next drivers at risk with each on six points. The Williams driver will need to be particularly careful given his sanctions have all been given this season so will not expire in the near future.
Ferrari duo Charles Leclerc and Carlos Sainz, along with Mick Schumacher are the best behaved drivers in the paddock with no points to their name. Hamilton has recently joined the trio with the points he received for his collison with Verstappen at Silverstone last year wiped following the race at the track this season.
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Verstappen’s record looks particularly bad when considering his record across his career. The current world champion is tied with Sebastian Vettel for the most points collected since the system was introduced. The pair have both received 30 points however the Dutchman has operated under the system for a year less than the four-time world champion.
The 24-year-old will need to remain cautious during the French Grand Prix this weekend in order to ensure he can compete in every race this season to maintain his championship lead.