Sebastian Vettel's red mist? How the Ferrari driver earned nine penalty points
How Vettel rose to the top of F1's penalty points table, with a potentially nervy Austrian GP awaiting the championship leader
By James Galloway
Last Updated: 08/08/17 4:25pm
Sebastian Vettel will walk a disciplinary tightrope in the Austrian GP after his penalty for driving into Lewis Hamilton in Baku moved him within three penalty points of a race ban.
In addition to the in-race stop-and-go penalty, stewards added three points to his superlicence to take him up to nine for the last 12 months - just three away from triggering an automatic one race suspension.
But under the terms of F1's disciplinary rules for on-track misdemeanours, drivers' points are wiped on the one-year anniversary on which they were applied.
The first two of Vettel's active nine points were added at last year's British GP on July 10 2016, meaning they will stay on his licence until the day after the next race in Austria on July 9.
That means the Ferrari driver must avoid picking up three points or more at the Red Bull Ring to avoid sitting out Silverstone, a suspension which would represent a huge blow to his title aspirations.
Vettel, despite his pit lane penalty, increased his title advantage over Hamilton to 14 points in Sunday's race.
Vettel topping another table
While Vettel leads the Drivers' Championship, he also sits at the summit of the disciplinary table with his nine penalty points for the last 12-month period two more than Carlos Sainz and Jolyon Palmer.
Since the totting-up procedure was introduced in 2014, no driver has reached the 12-point limit over a one-year period, although Vettel and Daniil Kvyat have now reached 12 points in total across the last three-and-a-half seasons.
Romain Grosjean was the last driver to be banned from a race, in 2012, for causing a huge first-lap pile up at that year's Belgian GP. A title-chasing Michael Schumacher was given a two-race suspension in 1994.
Vettel's 'red mist'?
Although his four world championships mean the 29-year-old is the most successful driver on the current grid, his reactions in high-pressure situations - particularly over the radio - proved a major talking point throughout last year.
And asked about Vettel's susceptibility to pressure after Sunday's race, Hamilton said: "I think that's been obvious for some time, look at the things last year he said on the radio. We know how he can be. That can only be a positive - he is obviously under pressure. That shows that pressure can get to some of the best of us."
All four of the incidents for which Vettel has received penalty points over last year have been for his conduct in battles with other drivers:
2016 British GP - two points
In a difficult wet-dry Silverstone race which had already been compromised by a grid drop, Vettel was penalised after stewards ruled he had forced Williams' Felipe Massa off the track. In addition to having two penalty points added to his then-clean licence, Vettel was given a five-second time penalty and finished ninth.
2016 Malaysia GP - two points
A three-place grid penalty for Japan and two more penalty points were earned after Vettel was judged to have been "predominately" at fault for colliding with Nico Rosberg at the first corner at Sepang. The Mercedes car was spun round and Rosberg bluntly summed the situation up post-race by saying: "I got T-boned by a four-time world champion, out of control."
2016 Mexican GP - two points
Having already blown his top in the car at what he deemed to be Max Verstappen's wayward driving, Vettel found himself on the receiving end of a time penalty for his defence of position against the other Red Bull of Daniel Ricciardo. Although he took to the podium in third place, he was later demoted to fifth and once more given two licence penalty points, taking up him to six. A later reprimand from the FIA followed for swearing over the radio in the direction of race director Charlie Whiting.
2017 Azerbaijan GP - three points
Running second to Hamilton as the Safety Car prepared to pull into the pits amid an increasingly chaotic Baku race, Vettel felt the Mercedes had "brake-tested" him after he hit the Briton's car up the back. In apparent retribution, he pulled up alongside his title rival and, gesticulating with his arm from the cockpit, the Ferrari swerved into Hamilton's left-front wheel.
Drivers with most penalty points
|Driver||Points||Next points dropped|
|Sebastian Vettel||9||July 10, 2017 (2 points)|
|Jolyon Palmer||7||July 2, 2017 (2 points)|
|Carlos Sainz||7||July 30, 2017 (2 points)|
|Sergio Perez||5||September 18, 2017 (3 points)|
|Kevin Magnussen||5||October 23, 2017 (2 points)|
|Daniil Kvyat||5||October 23, 2017 (2 points)|
|Esteban Ocon||4||September 18, 2017 (2 points)|
|Nico Hulkenberg||4||April 9, 2018 (4 points)|
|Romain Grosjean||3||April 8, 2018 (3 points)|
|Stoffel Vandoorne||3||April 30, 2018 (1 point)|
Don't miss the F1 Report: Azerbaijan GP Review on Sky Sports F1 at 8.30pm on Wednesday for the final word on the weekend's action.
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