Formula 1 drivers are at a greater risk of incurring race bans as stewards are issuing far more penalty points in 2024 compared to last year.

Stewards handed out just two penalty points over the first five races of last year. They issued 18 over the same period this season, a nine-fold increase.

The majority of those came at last weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix. Five drivers received penalties which put a total of 11 penalty points on their licence. Any driver who collects 12 penalty points over a 12-month period received an automatic one-race ban.

The majority of the penalty points have been issued for incidents in which one driver collided with another. The FIA stewards are enforcing new guidelines this year which have toughened up their enforcement of the rules. This came partly in response to drivers pointing out that the five-second time penalties issued for some infringements were often too lenient.

Safety Car infringement left Sargeant on eight penalty points

The spate of penalties issued in recent races has left several drivers worryingly close to a ban. Logan Sargeant, one of those penalised last weekend, is now on eight penalty points. If he collects four more between now and the Italian Grand Prix in September – 11 rounds including two more sprint races – he will receive an automatic penalty.

Sergio Perez is in an even more perilous position having reached eight penalty points at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix. He won’t have any points deducted from his licence for another 12 rounds.

The driver who has felt the wrath of the stewards most keenly this year is Fernando Alonso. In the space of three rounds he has gone from having a clean licence to halfway towards a ban, due to a pair of three-point sanctions.

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The first was his hotly-debated penalty for slowing abruptly in front of George Russell on the penultimate lap in Australia, leading to the Mercedes driver’s crash. The second came in last weekend’s sprint race where he tangled with Carlos Sainz Jnr as he attempted to re-pass the Ferrari driver in turn nine.

Fernando Alonso, Aston Martin, Shanghai International Circuit, 2024
Alonso disagreed with penalty for Sainz clash

“Obviously, I [do] not agree,” said Alonso when asked about his latest penalty, “but they have all the power to do what they think is is right and we have to accept it and move on.”

But he and other drivers nearing the 12-point limit will have to keep in mind the stewards’ resolve to clamp down on incidents in races whenever they find themselves in a wheel-to-wheel battle.

No F1 driver has ever been banned for reaching this limit. However it has happened in other categories which have the same rules. Two Formula 2 drivers collected bans this way during 2022 and another did in 2019.

The closest any F1 driver has come to receiving a ban in this way is Pierre Gasly, who reached 10 points at the end of 2022. He avoided collecting any penalty points for his collision with team mate Esteban Ocon at Melbourne last year, at which time he was two points away from a ban, and by today’s standards would surely have been in much more trouble.

Drivers who have collected penalty points in 2024

Driver Event Session Infringement Penalty Penalty points
Sergio Perez Saudi Arabia Grand prix Unsafe release 5 second time penalty 1
Kevin Magnussen Saudi Arabia Grand prix Collision with Alexander Albon 10 second time penalty 3
Fernando Alonso Australia Grand prix Causing an incident Drive-through penalty 3
Fernando Alonso China Sprint race Causing an incident with Carlos Sainz Jnr 10 second time penalty 3
Kevin Magnussen China Grand prix Collision with Yuki Tsunoda 10 second time penalty 2
Lance Stroll China Grand prix Collision with Daniel Ricciardo 10 second time penalty 2
Logan Sargeant China Grand prix Overtook Nico Hulkenberg under Safety Car conditions 10 second time penalty 2
Daniel Ricciardo China Grand prix Overtook Nico Hulkenberg under Safety Car conditions Grid drop: 3 places 2

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2024 Chinese Grand Prix

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