Brown calls for revamp of 'crazy' driver penalty system

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McLaren's Zak Brown is calling for changes to F1's driver penalty system after Lando Nando came within one incident last year of an unjustified race ban.

Since 2014, an F1 driver face a suspension by the FIA if he accumulates 12 penalty points on his superlicence within a rolling 12-month period.

So far, no driver has reached the limit and suffered a race ban, but several are at risk of hitting the threshold at the start of the 2022 season.

AlphaTauri's Yuki Tsunoda collected 8 penalty points on his licence in his maiden year in F1, but the Japanese charger's next expiry date is on April 18. He'll there fore need to be on his best behaviour in the first three races of the season.

But Max Verstappen, who found himself in 2021 on the receiving end of the stewards' calls more times than he cares to remember has accrued 7 penalty points that won't expire until next September.

The reigning world champion will therefore need to steer clear of the stewards' office during fifteen races this year, or at least avoid any repeat offenses.

Brown's beef with the FIA's penalty system goes back to last year's Austrian Grand Prix, where Norris was handed two penalty points for - according to the stewards - running Red Bull's Sergio Perez off the track.

Coupled with previous sanctions levied upon the Briton, Norris' penalty tally swelled to 10 points, which put him just 2 points away from an outright race ban, a state of affairs that Brown disagreed with given his driver's impeccable conduct out on the track.

"Iโ€™m assuming theyโ€™re going to come to a conclusion that figures out a way to better make decisions moving forward," said Brown, quoted by The Race and referring to the broad "clean-up" he hopes will be undertaken by the FIA in the wake of its investigation into last month's controversial Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

"These driver penalties [are a problem]. Lando was an incident away from losing his licence, which was crazy because I canโ€™t think of any time Lando drove dangerously.

"To me, points on your licence should be about dangerous driving, not racing incidents. So Iโ€™m more interested in all that getting cleaned up because we were racing worried about Lando."

Brown admitted that he struggled to remember the incidents called by the stewards and involving Norris, which pointed to their innocuous or trivial nature.

"I have to remind myself of what the incidents were," he added.

"One of them was under a drying track under yellow [he] went quicker in the sector, but the track was getting quicker. That shouldnโ€™t be two penalty points, a disallowed lap maybe, maybe.

"So all that needs to be looked at. While everyone that I understand is laser-focused on Abu Dhabi. Iโ€™m looking at the last two years, weโ€™ve got to clean all this up."

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