Newly crowned Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen will need to tread carefully in 2022, as he is not far from a race ban after a dramatic 2021 season that involved multiple clashes with Sir Lewis Hamilton.
Drivers can only collect 12 penalty points on their super licence in a full year before a race ban is applied by the FIA.
The Dutchman now finds himself on seven penalty points following his multiple incidents with Hamilton over the course of the 2021 season.
The first collision between the pair arrived at Hamilton’s home British Grand Prix, with the Mercedes driver making contact with Verstappen at Turn 9, resulting in a 51G collision with the barrier for the 24-year-old.
Hamilton was adjudged to be at fault for this, and was thus handed a 10-second penalty. The Mercedes driver still managed to win the race, however.
Verstappen’s first two points were handed out in the Italian Grand Prix, in which the title rivals clashed at the first chicane.
Verstappen’s Red Bull was launched up by a sausage kerb onto the top of Hamilton’s car while they were side-by-side.
The Dutchman then attempted to drive away while his tyre was on the Mercedes’ Halo structure, with the safety device preventing the Red Bull from making contact with the Briton’s head.
Verstappen was given a three-place grid penalty for the following Russian Grand Prix.
He then earned two more penalty points in Qatar for ignoring double-waved yellow flags, before further contact at the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix led to him being handed another three.
Verstappen forced Hamilton off the circuit at Turn 1, and was told by his team to strategically allow the Mercedes driver by.
As he attempted to do this, however, he slowed excessively in the eyes of the stewards, and Hamilton made contact with the back of the Red Bull.
Verstappen is now just five penalty points away from a mandatory one-race ban, and the first of his seven penalty points won’t expire until September.
The Red Bull driver claimed his maiden F1 championship in 2021, beating Hamilton in controversial circumstances on the very last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.