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Analysis: Should yellow cards be used to discipline F1 drivers?

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Analysis: Should yellow cards be used to discipline F1 drivers?
Sep 5, 2012, 7:48 AM

One of the collateral effects of the one race ban on Romain Grosjean for causing the startline pile up at Spa, is to ask questions about how Pastor...

One of the collateral effects of the one race ban on Romain Grosjean for causing the startline pile up at Spa, is to ask questions about how Pastor Maldonado has so far avoided a similar ban.

Maldonado again firmly found himself under fire for his driving in Belgium with the Williams driver picking up penalties for three separate offences over the Spa weekend. It has raised questions about whether F1 should move towards a system of yellow cards, as in football, where an automatic ban is imposed once a certain number of yellow cards have been accrued.

While Romain Grosjean’s one-race suspension somewhat served to overshadow the severity of Maldonado’s own triple whammy of punishments, both drivers’ latest examples of wayward driving has served to opened up the debate surrounding the driving standards being diplayed by the latest generation of young guns entering F1 and in the junior series'.

Maldonado has been a persistent offender in that regard since the start of the season, and in his 2011 debut year to an extent, and research conducted by JA on F1 into the decisions handed down by the FIA stewards’ in 2012 is certainly rather damning. The Williams driver has now been punished for 10 separate offences across the 12 GPs to date with the most recent nine out these meted out in the seven events since his brilliant maiden win at the Spanish GP in May, a period in which he has also scored no points.

In total Maldonado has come to the attention of the stewards on 11 occasions and in only one of those instances was the respective charge not upheld. Since Monaco he has been in the stewards' office at every event.

Here’s the full rundown:

China - Reprimand for impeding Heikki Kovalainen in qualifying.

Monaco - Ten-place grid penalty for colliding with Sergio Perez in final practice.

Canada - Cleared following accusations that he impeded Kimi Raikkonen in Q1.

Europe - €1,400 fine for speeding in the pit lane during final practice. / Twenty-second time penalty for colliding with Lewis Hamilton.

Britain - €10,000 fine and a reprimand for crashing into Sergio Perez.

Germany - €1,200 fine for speeding in the pit lane during first practice.

Hungary - Drive-through penalty for colliding with Paul di Resta.    

Belgium - Three-place grid penalty for impeding Nico Hulkenberg in qualifying. / Five-place grid penalty for the Italian GP for jumping the start. / Second five-place Italian GP grid penalty for causing a collision with Timo Glock.

In addition Maldonado has also taken three further five-place grid drops for gearbox changes – two of which, in Monaco and Canada, were more than likely self-inflicted owing to the fact they were preceded by crashes in final practice and qualifying respectively.

Unlike the football model, F1’s decision to ban Grosjean for Monza is the first example since 1994 of the sport’s authorities standing a driver down for a race or throwing them out of an event completely as punishment for a major driving offence.

Mid-way through last season a totting up procedure for reprimands was inserted into the sporting regultions to give that rebuke some official value, with Article 18.2 stating thatany driver who receives three reprimands in the same Championship season will, upon the imposition of the third, be given a ten grid place penalty at that Event” or following event if the indiscretion takes place during the race. Maldonado is therefore one more reprimand away from a further 10-place grid drop, but given he has picked up four qualifying penalties already this season, few would regard this as a meaningful punishment should it have to be applied in a bid to try and change his ways.

Maldonado did certainly serve notice of his erratic style through the junior ranks and so therefore provides an example of what both Stefano Domenicali and Fernando Alonso have spoken about since Sunday’s first-corner pile-up at Spa that more needs to be done to lay down the law to junior drivers before they get to F1. Their driver’s style is certainly a quandary for Williams who, irrespective of the large budget Maldonado brings with him from PDVSA, knows it has a potential star on its hands but one whose actions on track is consistently costing the team vital points in the battle for valuable constructors’ championship positions.

Given Maldonado, albeit in his fourth year in the feeder series, comfortably beat the very highly-regarded and potentially future Ferrari driver Sergio Perez to the 2010 GP2 title the raw talent certainly is there, but it may be down to Williams to try and curb his aggression before the FIA  is eventually forced to act with more severity.

 

Should the drivers get an automatic one race ban after three driving offences in F1?
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Series Formula 1
Teams Williams