Bernie Ecclestone has warned that issuing penalties in Formula 1 races on a regular basis risks leading to drivers 'losing the confidence to try to fight' and spoiling the sport.

The F1 ringmaster's comments come in the wake of not only a highly contentious Japanese Grand Prix at Fuji last weekend - in which McLaren-Mercedes world championship leader Lewis Hamilton, Ferrari ace Felipe Massa and Scuderia Toro Rosso star S?bastien Bourdais were all penalised, in the latter's case extremely controversially - but also the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps last month, when Hamilton lost his hard-fought victory in the stewards room after the chequered flag had fallen.

That has led to a number of figures in the paddock suggesting that if drivers are penalised for trying to overtake, they will cease to attempt to do so - and it will be the sport that emerges as the biggest loser. Ecclestone seems to agree.

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"We must be careful that we don't punish every little thing," the 77-year-old told German publication Auto Motor und Sport, "otherwise the drivers will lose the confidence to try to fight.

"What I want is a referee, who either immediately announces a penalty or, as in football, shows a yellow card. For certain offences you get a red card, for others a yellow.

"Once you have a certain number of yellow cards, you are banned for the next race."

That would be one way for F1's rule-makers to spice up the show - something seen as being of vital importance in the next couple of years - and on a similar theme Ecclestone suggested a number of other measures to make the action more exciting and bring escalating expenditure back into check.

"For qualifying it should all be on low fuel, and there should be points," he argued. "We could also reduce the number of paddock passes for the guys who work on the cars.

"[In terms of testing] I would be even more radical, [with] only one track at which you can test and we stay at each grand prix track one day longer so they can test on Monday."