Russell confirms ‘conversations have been had’ over hated F1 rule

George Russell says he's learning in Mercedes

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F1’s George Russell has called for the sport’s penalty points system to be reviewed, a rule many drivers on the grid have called out. Drivers can be handed penalty points for any issues or mistakes on track such as causing collisions, exceeding track limits or other misdemeanours.

The rule, introduced in 2014, states that if a driver accumulates more than 12 points over the course of a 12-month period, they will be forced to miss one race.

By the conclusion of the 2022 season, no F1 driver had exceeded the dreaded number, but Alpine driver Pierre Gasly is perilously close to the mark on 10 points. Faced with the possibility of a driver he does not consider “dangerous or reckless” receiving a ban, Russell admitted that a reconsideration of the rules is needed if the Frenchman fell foul of the system.

“Conversations have been had and I think the FIA will definitely review the points system,” Russell told media, including “If any driver was to receive a race ban, it needs to be for something pretty damn serious, and I definitely don’t put Pierre in the category of a dangerous or reckless driver.

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“A number of his penalty points have been through non-dangerous driving [such as exceeding track limits or dropping too far behind the Safety Car queue], so it would be a shame to see him take a race ban. Even if he were to get those 12 points, I think we need to reconsider it.”

Last November Russell commented on the same issue and expressed more concern for his colleague who will be treading on thin ice next season. “It is actually something we spoke about earlier in the year, I think it was around Barcelona, where some drivers picked up penalty points for nothing of an incident,” he said. “So I hope he does not get a race ban because he certainly doesn’t deserve one. If he somehow does manage to get 12 penalty points, there needs to be some exemption because the rules aren’t in the right place in that regard.”

Russell has also previously commented on what he thinks may be a more adequate solution, while also being unsure of exactly what it takes for a driver to be issued penalty points. “I am still not actually sure on the ruling for reprimands because I am not too sure whether I have collected any this year and I have penalty points. I think it is five reprimands and you get a grid penalty? I think that works quite well.

“I have not looked into the details for what exactly you get the penalty points for but for sure, the small sporting infringements, they are not dangerous to result in a race ban. It should only be down to reckless driving.”

Russell, the director of the Grand Prix Drivers Association, also discussed the possibility of the FIA increasing the weight of F1 cars. He cited a clear safety risk for drivers, with the Brit insisting that the impact of collisions can be like ‘crashing a bus’.

“The big one is the weight,” Russell told Autosport. “The weight is extraordinary. At the moment, the low-speed performance is not great.

“We keep making these cars safer and safer, but obviously the heavier you make them when you have an impact it’s like crashing with a bus compared to a Smart car. If you just keep making it heavier, heavier, heavier, stronger, stronger, stronger, actually you get to a point where you cross over that [line] that too heavy is actually not safer.”

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