The FIA has confirmed that a system of penalty points will be introduced into its flagship F1 series in a bid to control driving standards from 2014 onwards.
Amongst a raft of tweaks to the category's sporting regulations, many of which concern penalties and punishments, the governing body confirmed that drivers will be subject to a totting-up system that, at its extreme, could result in suspension from the cockpit.
“In accordance with Article 16.3, the stewards may impose penalty points on a driver's Super Licence,” article 4.2 of the 2014 regulations confirms, “If a driver accrues 12 penalty points, his licence will be suspended for the following event, following which 12 points will be removed from the licence.”
The regulations also reveal that the penalty point system will operate on a rolling twelve-month basis, with points remaining in force until the anniversary of their imposition or, as stated previously, a suspension removes them from the licence.
Elsewhere, there is further clarification of track limits, particularly when it comes to overtaking. The 2013 season was rife with discussion about drivers exceeding track limits, and appearing to gain an advantage from doing so, even though F1 safety delegate Charlie Whiting suggested that this was not the case. The definition appeared blurred, however, for drivers seemed to get away with putting all four wheels beyond the white lines marking the edge of the circuit on some occasions, while others – including Romain Grosjean's ballsy pass on Felipe Massa in Hungary – resulted in a penalty.
“Drivers must use the track at all times,” the rulebook insists, “For the avoidance of doubt, the white lines defining the track edges are considered to be part of the track, but the kerbs are not. A driver will be judged to have left the track if no part of the car remains in contact with the track.”
The most obvious tweak to the regulations in this area now gives the stewards discretion when it comes to penalising transgressions.
“Should a car leave the track the driver may re-join, however, this may only be done when it is safe to do so and without gaining any lasting advantage,” the document confirmed, before adding, “At the absolute discretion of the race director, a driver may be given the opportunity to give back the whole of any advantage he gained by leaving the track.”
A five-second time penalty is also proposed in order to allow stewards more flexibility when it comes to minor issues,
Pit-stop safety also comes under scrutiny, with adjustment to the wording of clauses concerning 'unsafe release'. Transgressions in any practice session will now result in a grid penalty for that weekend's race, while similar errors of judgement on raceday will result in a similar punishment for the following round. Penalties picked up in practice remain at the discretion of the stewards, however, while raceday punishments will result in a mandatory ten-place drop, with the regulations also allowing for the imposition of a drive-thru' or time penalty should the offending car be able to continue in the race.