Alpine might be taking a serious look at who becomes their reserve driver for 2023, as Enstone-bound Pierre Gasly edges dangerously close to being awarded a one race ban next season.
Gasly endured a horrendous United States Grand Prix, on the back of his deadly near-miss at the recent Japanese Grand Prix.
The Frenchman picked up two penalty points for the second race in a row, after being deemed to have fallen beyond ten car lengths to the car in front during a Safety Car period during the race at the Circuit of the Americas.
The stewards awarded the AlphaTauri driver with a five-second time penalty and two penalty points, after “it was clear from the evidence that car 10 was significantly more than 10 car lengths behind the car in front.”
This penalty ruined Gasly’s race, as he served his five-second time penalty during a pit-stop; at least he tried to.
The Faenza-based team were found guilty of having started work on Gasly’s car too soon, which resulted in a 10-second time penalty which was applied after the race.
“The front wheels were lifted at 4.54 seconds and rear wheels at 4.8 seconds,” the stewards noted.
“This is a breach of the regulations, however not significant enough to warrant disqualification. As this was a team error, no driver penalty points are allocated.”
Gasly’s penalty points total sits at nine following the race, with 12 being the number required to get an automatic race ban.
The 26-year-old was awarded two for speeding under red flag conditions at Suzuka which had put him onto nine; however, his total was reduced to seven ahead of the US Grand Prix as two of the Frenchman’s points expired.
Penalty points remain on a driver’s superlicence for exactly a year, something which is a huge issue for Gasly as he’s not set to lose any points now until May 2023.
With three races remaining this season, he could still exceed 12 points before the end of the year, with there now being a real chance based on his current form that he could miss the season finale.
No F1 driver has ever faced a race ban due to exceeding 12 penalty points, but it’s something that looks likely for Gasly, who finished P13.
Alpine will be wanting the Frenchman to remain on best behaviour now for the rest of the year, with the driver set to join the French side with penalty points pressure on his back.
The last thing Alpine will want is to lose Gasly for a race early on in their partnership, a time when learning to work together and get the best set-up out of the car is pivotal to success later in the year.