MAX VERSTAPPEN is at risk of a one-race ban in 2022 if his tense rivalry with Lewis Hamilton continues into the season.
Max Verstappen will need to be careful in his wheel-to-wheel duels with Lewis Hamilton, and any other drivers at the front of the pack, in the 2022 Formula One season given the penalty points he has on his FIA super licence. A driver can only accumulate a maximum of 12 points across 12 months before facing action.
Each penalty point handed to a Formula One driver stays on their licence for a one-year period and picking up 12 points across that time frame earns an automatic one-race ban.
Verstappen has amassed seven points in the past 12 months, and the first of those points will not expire until 12 September 2022, by which point there will already have been 16 races of the new season.
All of the title-winning Dutchman’s points in 2021 came late in the year with the first arriving at the Italian Grand Prix where he collided with Hamilton at Turn 2 during the race.
Verstappen’s RB16B ended up parked on top of the Mercedes on lap 26 in Monza after he sought to pass Hamilton around the inside of Turn 1 and into the inside of Turn 2.
The stewards sided with Hamilton over the incident, saying at no point was the Red Bull driver fully alongside his rival which meant he could not claim the inside of the corner.
He was hit with a three-place grid drop for the following race in Russia and also slapped with two points on his licence.
Verstappen picked up a further two points at the Qatar Grand Prix for failing to respect double-waved yellow flags during qualifying.
He followed that by picking up three points at the penultimate race of the season, the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix, for two separate incidents both of which came while he battled with Hamilton.
In the first the reigning world champion was punished for leaving the track and gaining a lasting advantage while he was handed a further two points for braking in a manner which caused a collision with Hamilton on lap 38 at Turn 27.
Hamilton, by contrast, was only hit with two penalty points all season which came for his first-lap incident with Verstappen which saw the Red Bull crash out at the British Grand Prix.
Those points that Verstappen collected in Qatar and Saudi Arabia came on November 21 and December 5 but the 2022 season is scheduled to end on 20 November 2022 in Abu Dhabi.
That therefore guarantees the Netherlands native will carry five points across the full 23-race calendar, heightening the need for him to be careful against picking up any more.
Only Sebastian Vettel has picked up more penalty points in F1 since 2015 with 30 (six of which came in 2021), with Red Bull’s other driver Sergio Perez just behind on 24 (seven in 2021).
Only rookie Yuki Tsunoda, of AlphaTauri, had more penalty points than Perez and Verstappen in 2021 with the Japanese ending on eight.
Verstappen tallied eight in his debut season in 2015, an amount he has never matched since. He then recorded just one penalty point in 2016 before three in 2017 and seven in 2018.
In 2019 the 24-year-old collected four but was able to go the full 2020 season without being handed a single point, before accruing seven in 2021.
Hamilton branded his rival “f***ing crazy” after their collision in Qatar, to which Red Bull team principal Christian Horner later responded: “He’s certainly not crazy.
“You’ve got two guys, different ages, going for the biggest prize in motorsport. It’s frustrating. There’s been some confusion. Some incidents get punished, some go unpunished.
“Max does tend to get the harsher verdict, particularly when you look back at the weekend.”
The duel between the two will continue with the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on the weekend of March 18 to March 20.
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