Pierre Gasly believes it’s “a bit embarrassing” to be on the verge of a one-race ban and is speaking to the FIA about potential solutions ahead of the Sao Paulo Grand Prix.
The Frenchman picked up a penalty point in Mexico City for leaving the track and gaining an advantage when he forced both himself and Lance Stroll wide while overtaking the Aston Martin driver. That moved him to 10 points for the calendar year — two away from a race ban — with no points dropping off his license until May 2023, and Gasly hints he could try to take such a punishment in Abu Dhabi to avoid the risk of being banned early in his Alpine career.
“I’m not going to lie, it’s a very unpleasant situation, and quite delicate,” Gasly said. “In some ways also, it’s a bit embarrassing to be standing in a position where I could be banned for a race after the season I’ve done. I don’t really feel like I’ve been particularly dangerous over the last 12 months, and that would definitely be a harsh penalty.
“But there’s been a lot of discussion with the FIA, trying to find a solution because personally, I want to do all the races, I want to finish the season in the best way I can with AlphaTauri. I want to do all the races in 2023 and get the maximum chances to perform for Alpine.
“Obviously, there is a lot at stake because no one knows what’s going to happen in 2023 — I could end up with an amazing car, fighting for the championship, for example. I can’t take the risk to be banned for a race and lose all my hopes for the championship.
“It’s a very tricky situation. The way the regulations are written at the moment, it’s quite strict on the drivers and quite harsh penalties, even though it’s not always related to dangerous driving. Definitely, the penalties have massive repercussions on the teams and drivers in the championship.
“I do hope we can find a solution ahead of the weekend to not end up in a silly situation where I’ll be banned for a race weekend. That would be terrible for myself and definitely not the way that I’ve seen the sport growing up. I don’t think that’s the correct approach. Obviously, I can’t really go into next year with only two points and that risk over my head. But at the same time, at the moment there is no clear solution so hopefully there can be a good plan going forward for 2023.”
Gasly’s penalties relate to causing collisions in Spain and Austria, exceeding track limits in Austria, speeding under red flag conditions in Japan, dropping too far behind the safety car in the United States and the Mexico incident. However, his plight has the support of some of his fellow drivers, with Valtteri Bottas saying he expects changes to be made.
“I think there has already been discussions and I think it’s better to keep it internally,” Bottas said. “From my understanding there will be some changes made for the future, because some of the things we’re getting points for weren’t really dangerous. I think the points should be given for something really dangerous where you can do harm to yourself or to somebody else on track.
“I don’t think Pierre deserves to be in this difficult situation, but that’s the rule now. The main thing is how it ends in the future.”